The Evil Genius

The Evil Genius Collins boldness in drawing sympathetic portraits of both the wife and the other woman is astonishingly modern The novel well deserves to be brought back into print Catherine Peters Oxford University

  • Title: The Evil Genius
  • Author: Wilkie Collins
  • ISBN: 9781551110172
  • Page: 114
  • Format: Paperback
  • Collins boldness in drawing sympathetic portraits of both the wife and the other woman is astonishingly modern The novel well deserves to be brought back into print Catherine Peters, Oxford University

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      Posted by:Wilkie Collins
      Published :2018-04-01T02:14:10+00:00

    One thought on “The Evil Genius

    1. Lynn

      This one's not "The Moonstone," but it's still a worthy way to spend some time. It's a bit more pulpy, and has echoes of "Jane Eyre" (the poor abused waif who gets sent to a dreadful school and badly used) and any number of other Victorian novels in which good triumphs. It has Dickens echoes, also, which is fitting. (Little Nell and others).Like Moonstone, though, Collins has such sympathy for his characters, even the ones that lesser writers would portray as demons. There's some debate about wh [...]

    2. Lauren

      Ugh, Randall is the worst. Catherine's life and reputation are ruined, through no fault of her own. She decides to take the only option available to save her and her daughter's future - to say she is a widow, rather than a divorced woman. Randall is incredibly offended, and thinks she should have lived in isolation for the rest of her life. Seriously?! She should have taken herself and her child off to live in solitude, never having a friend, never having a playmate for Kitty nor any marriage pr [...]

    3. Michelle

      Throughout the story I kept wondering who WS being referred to as the evil genius. I wanted to strangle at least three of the characters by halfway through! Collins' reminded me of the importance of trust and good communication in marriage.

    4. Linda

      If your idea of great drama is a non-sweeps-week episode of All My Children, have I got a book for you! Save yourself the trouble, and don’t try to figure out who the evil genius is as you’re reading, because there isn’t one. There’s a weird brother, a prissy, meddlesome mother-in-law (think Darrin’s mom on Bewitched), a retired sea captain who saves wayward women (just women—no wayward men need apply), and an inoffensive lump of an ingénue.It’s easy to figure out why this novel w [...]

    5. Bagtree

      "Get over yourself, Catherine. You can't divorce your husband just because he banged an abused teenager, ruining both her life and yours."

    6. Gypsi

      Wilkie Collins is best known as a writer of sensationalist fiction: supernatural suspense, terrifying drama, complex mysteries, and all often used as a vehicle for his complaints against social injustices. The Evil Genius doesn't fall into that category by today's standards, but for Victorians, it's very subject matter was sensational and taboo. The Evil Genius is novel of marital infidelity, Divorce (yes, with a capital "D"!) and the scandal and injustice that often (in Collins' times) surround [...]

    7. Leserling /Belana

      I'm a bit of a Wilkie Collins fan, and since there are a number of his novels that I don't know yet, I decided to revisit his works.This work is one of his weaker novels, but not quite as weak as 'Poor Miss Finch', which is by far the weakest of his novels that I've read. The characters are plastic, and they develop, but I think I prefer his mysteries to his romances. I'm not quite sure what to make of the moral views, either. They're somehow twisted, but then I guess they're indeed mirroring th [...]

    8. Johnny

      What?! The old geezer was reading a romance novel? Well, I didn't realize when I started The Evil Genius that it was a romance novel. The PDF version I read didn't have the subtitle "A Domestic Story" and I had heard of Collins as a sometime collaborator with Dickens and a detective and supernatural storyteller of the first rank. So, when the novel began with a shipwreck, a trial, and missing jewels, I thought I was settling in for an Edwardian Era mystery.The mystery was solved in the space of [...]

    9. Nicole

      At some point, I should probably re-read and reassess this book, since I listened to it as an audio book, rather than reading the text, and the performance was not particularly good. (Though it makes sense to have a man narrate the book since the real-life and fictional authors were male, the majority of the actual dialog in the book was conducted by female characters, and his attempts to sound like a women were rather painful. Actually, his efforts to sound British were rather painful, too.)Any [...]

    10. PSXtreme

      I picked up this copy blind, mostly on the reputation of Wilkie Collins and the interesting title of the book. I was hoping for another turn-of-the-century gem like Jules Verne's The Master of the World. Unfortunately, this was not to be.(view spoiler)[To begin with, the title in itself is misleading. There is no "Evil Genius" in the storyt as someone who WE would consider that to bee obvious thought is that it would be a scientist determined to take over the world by means of his dastardly crea [...]

    11. MissSusie

      This book was so different than I expected from the title I expected a spooky gothic story like Woman in White but alas that is not what this book was it’s the story of a marriage breaking up, a meddling mother-in-law, a child who suffers through it all and a young girl who seems to be taken advantage of no matter where she goes. This was an interesting look at divorce in a by gone era if a bit outdated.The narrator of this one John Bolen isn’t a favorite, I don’t like his women’s voices [...]

    12. Jennifer

      Ha ha ha! Ending fail.Seriously, when I was listening to the book, I wasn't sure why the ratings were so much lower than Collins's other books, and then I mentioned this to a colleague, who said, "Oh, is that the one Collins died before finishing and it was finished by someone else?" Since I try not to read the reviews before reading a book for fear of spoilers, I wouldn't have been aware of something like that.As it turns out, this is not that book. But I wasn't sure how Collins was going to re [...]

    13. Robert Hepple

      An 1886 Victorian melodrama with many of the most traditional ingedients, including the rigid class structure, a governess, family scandals and an almost draconian attitude to divorce. These days, such domestic issues are the stuff of tv chat show ritual humiliation in the name of entertainment, but Collins would have us believe that these issues are all of critical importance to Victorian values. In other words, you need to think in terms of idealistic Victorian values for the story to work, af [...]

    14. Heidi

      I was content with the ending but this wasn't my favorite Wilkie Collins. However, I think it gives you a good picture of how life was for women back then. Divorce now is almost commonplace and is usually no big deal when discussed. Back then it was scandal and reason to not let your kids play with their kids. This story emphasized how much influence the wrong kind of mother-in-law can have on a marriage. That woman was manipulative and placed doubt in her daughter's head where there didn't need [...]

    15. Jeff

      A morality tale.In my edition (Broadview Press) there is a very informative introduction, mainly regarding the social climate and the status of women that prevailed at the time of writing (1886).In the guise of an interestingly complex plot, the author , in a Dickensian manner, explores the unfair treatment of women under Victorian marital laws. All the characters come off rather well in the end if you are prepared to allow that humans are essentially flawed. The main actors display maddening bu [...]

    16. Jill

      I don't think a better work of fiction could have been produced to illustrate the horrors and pains infidelity causes to everyone. Considering it's fiction, it really tears at your heart like a non-fiction account would. My favorite character is Catherine. I had no idea what this book was about one way or the other when I picked it up. I only knew that it was Brit lit and that Dickens and Collins were good friends. The introduction was interesting, because from it I learned that Collins was very [...]

    17. Sophie

      Hard to say, between the narration or the story, which was the more tedious aspect of this book. I guess the nod would have to go to the story itself, since it was all treacly melodrama with no depth or characterization. But the narrator was a close second. His clumsy accents and really bad attempts at female voices were tough to listen to. And yet I did. I'm not sure why, but for some reason, having begun this silly story, I stayed with it until the end. Maybe just to see how ridiculous it woul [...]

    18. Hollowspine

      The evil genius here was, I would say, a bit different from the norm, being that she was an old woman. She was also my favorite character. Although, maybe she wasn't a saintI don't know if I would call her 'evil.' It wasn't her fault that her son-in-law was morally bankrupt or that the governess was so new to the workings of the world.An enjoyable book for the most part, I think I'll read Armadale or the Women in White next time though, somehow I don't believe that this was Collins best work.

    19. Aleks Schoen

      This novel is not like Collins's other work. There really is no central mystery, so it misses out on some of Collins's detective story genius. However, it is fascinating in other ways. First off, there is no evil character, despite what the title might lead you to believe. Second, the way in which it treats the characters and their relationships--especially the various love triangles--is interesting. Accepted social and familial lines are blurred and crossed often and quickly, and by everyone.

    20. Amber

      I really love Wilkie Collins' writing style and it was an interesting story, albeit a little silly at times because by the end the characters basically go back to where they startedt sure how there could really be any trust there in the relationship, but perhaps this was more of a religious story?

    21. Jessamy Barker

      Very typical WC fare, and I enjoyed it very much. He does write children very well - Kitty is great :) I also liked the bits set in Sydenham and around Crystal Palace as that's an area I know well. I was actually surprised that a book of this time would write about an affair and divorce, especially with all characters involved being treated sympathetically. Really interesting.

    22. David Hambling

      The characters in the central love - triangle are all insipid, and it's up to the others to make up the lack. Fortunately the mother in law and the lawyer are full-on Wilkie Collins creations; entertaining enough, and amazingly forward for its time in looking at moral issues around divorce, it's not The Moonstone by a long chalk.

    23. Kali

      I love Wilkie Collins and I love Victorian sensation novels. But this one, with its focus on how "wrong" divorce is, doesn't resonate with modern readers in quite the same way as Collins' "The Woman in White" or "The Moonstone."

    24. Nancy Hirsch

      NervwrackingThis book drove me nuts ;it was too long and kept running around and not progressing fast enough . I did reading it ,though, skipping some parts at the very end because I was going crazy regarding Catherine and Sydney and the husband ,it was too drawn out .

    25. Darla Ebert

      I was surprised how good this was, and seemingly a lesser known of Wilkie Collins's books. However I admit it was a "guilty read" because there were some unexpected (in a book of this time period) morals issues, it was riveting. Absolutely

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