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Stephanie Womick

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    English professor

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  1. I had the opportunity to watch a screener for PBS's adaptation of Wilkie Collins's Victorian sensation novel, The Woman in White, and I quite liked it. It's a five-episode miniseries, and I believe that fans of the novel will find much to enjoy. The adaptation is largely faithful to the novel, though there is an invented frame narrative structure that introduces a new character, and which mostly feels a bit confusing and unnecessary. The settings are lovely, made appropriately Gothic with the addition of moonlight or mist, as necessary. I suspected going in that the performances of the actors playing Marian Halcombe (here performed by Jessie Buckley) and Count Foscoe (Riccardo Scamarcio) would be crucial to the success of the series, and both delivered (though this Foscoe is considerably younger and lighter than the original). What was perhaps most surprising about this adaptation was the role of Laura Fairlie (Olivia Vinall). In the novel, she's ironically rather forgettable, a pale watercolor portrait. She's painted with a bit more vividness in the miniseries, though I cringed at her introduction as an unconventionally free-spirited devotee of the cult of sensibility wandering about in her nightdress. However, her character develops as the series progresses, and, critically, we see her experiences from her own perspective. In the novel, the events are related by a series of narrators, mostly Walter Hartright, but also Marian, Uncle Frederick, their lawyer, Gilmore, Foscoe, various servants, even a tombstone, but never Laura herself. Because this protective layer of second-hand narration is removed in the miniseries, the story actually becomes rather more serious and disturbing, discarding the caper-like quality and delightfully creepy tone of the original.
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