In Basil’s secret and unconsummated marriage to the linen-draper’s sexually precocious daughter, and the shocking betrayal, insanity, and death that follow, Collins reveals the bustling, commercial London of the nineteenth century wreaking its vengeance on a still powerful aristocratic world.
This was a random purchase, based on the name of the author, that and it wasn’t either The Woman in White or The Moonstone – neither of which I have yet read – which always come up whenever the author’s name is mentioned. It also reminded me of (when the currency was converted) picking up those classics for 99p, last century.
Basil is a tale of class, snobbery, obsession, prejudice, passion, deceit and vengeance. In its day it was a highly scandalous novel, today, sadly, there is nothing disgraceful about it in the slightest. There is, however,an odd choice made by the titular Basil, fairly early on and feels for that reason, a tad forced as a plot device.
I didn’t really care about any of the characters – I tried my best, honest – but as there is little to endear most of them anyway, it is, for me, a moot point. Only Basil’s sister and Mother-in-Law escaped my devastating lack of sympathy. I did enjoy following the trajectories (mostly miserable) of all the characters though, despite some stereotyping and illogical leaps.
There was on exception to my general apathy or downright dislike to the characters and that was Mannion, his demeanour and mysterious countenance really add something tonally darker into the book and contributed much to my enjoyment of the story and its eventual direction. Continue reading “Basil – Wilkie Collins”