I must admit that I was daunted by the 504 pages of this book. I mean, I've read longer books. It wasn't that I didn't think I could finish it, but that I was afraid I would spend too long reading each day and shirk my responsibilities like I did with the previous book, except 2.5 times as much. I decided to limit myself to 100 pages a day so that I might also manage to feed my kids with some regularity.
However, this quickly became more of a goal or a challenge than a limit. A hundred pages was easy the first day because I spent the morning in a doctor's waiting room (without any of the kids, I might add). But I only managed about 14 pages the second day! Then 37 the next. Then I managed to catch a bug that my older kids so graciously brought home to me from school. I contrived to stay in bed for the next two days, and made up for lost time between naps. I don't recommend this method, but it helped by giving me more time to read than I would have had otherwise.
Judging by the back of the book, which claimed that the author's aim was "the 'creepy' effect," I was expecting shivers. I am sad to report that the story is not especially chilling. (OK, this might be a spoiler, so close your eyes for a moment): Once again I was disappointed by the lack of a ghost; I was just sure the titular woman in white was a ghostly figure. (You can open your eyes again now).
That's not to say, however, that I didn't like the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it (even though I did not enjoy my circumstances these past two days). It is Very Victorian, and reminded me of other great books like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. It was very well-written and left no plot holes that I could detect. I was afraid that I would be left without ever knowing the Secret that Sir Percival was so anxious to keep hidden, or that the amazing likeness between Anne Catherick and Laura Fairlie would remain brushed aside as a simple coincidence, but I should not have allowed myself to fret. Collins covered all ground sufficiently . . . some areas, it seemed to me, multiple times.
In fact, that may be my one complaint about the book (other than the fact that it wasn't very creepy, which wouldn't have even been a complaint if the back cover hadn't raised my expectations in that direction). Towards the end (especially during Count Fosco's superfluous narrative in which I didn't learn anything new) a satisfactory resolution could have been reached in a much smaller number of pages. I began to feel as if I was being beaten over the head with details that were already, for the most part, clear enough to me. But this was a small price to pay for an absorbing Victorian mystery.
Be forewarned that reading 100 pages of this book is about like reading 200 pages of any other. If you have any sort of life or responsibilities outside of reading, give yourself at least a week (maybe even two) to get through it.