Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Victorian #4

I read this book for the A Victorian Celebration 2015 hosted over at A Literary Odyssey in June and July, 2015.

The Frozen Deep – Wilkie Collins

Earlier this year I enjoyed Collins’ novelettes My Lady's Money and A Rogue's Life.  Although I knew the plot of The Frozen Deep involved a love triangle instead of a mystery, I was looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately this was mildly disappointing because the tone was overwrought and the dialogue stagey and melodramatic. This is no surprise considering that the work started out as a play written by Collins and Charles Dickens. After Dickens died, Collins turned it into a short novel.

Some scenes are good. The ball in the opening scene is lively. The camps in Newfoundland and remote Arctic regions are persuasive. The recounting of the heroine’s second sight dreams is unsettling. The friend of our heroine personifies the anti-superstition camp, scolding the heroine for trusting dreams instead of Heaven. The ship’s cook, who complains all the time, provides comic relief with his tagline, “But I never grumble.”

The plot lends itself to melodrama, however. An unsuccessful lover vows vengeance on his successful rival. But his attitude changes because he shares an ordeal with his rival. Love, as we like to see, conquers all.

This is not essential Collins, but entertaining enough if a reader is looking for a short novel bursting with with Victorian melodrama.

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