This very short biography of Victorian author Wilkie Collins is breezy in style and it skims the surface of his colorful life. Readers are given facts about his childhood, oddly shaped body, dislike of marriage, two mistresses, friendship with Charles Dickens, travels abroad, and illnesses, but with only 233 small size pages of text there isn’t room to go into much depth about them all.
I would have liked to learn more about how the two mistresses managed–their relationships with Collins overlapped, and though he provided for them and their children as best he could his refusal to marry put them both in a difficult situation. I also would have enjoyed a larger sense of history from the book, and deeper insights into life in Victorian England, but as the subtitle indicates this is “A Brief Life” and I did come away from the book with new perspectives on Wilkie Collins.
I was most fascinated by the ongoing overview of the books and plays Collins wrote that’s integrated into his personal history, with the plots and characters of those works put into the context of his life and time. This quick introduction to Wilkie Collins is like an intriguing appetizer that whets the appetite for more.
I read an ebook advanced review copy of this book provided to me at no cost by the publisher through NetGalley. Review opinions are mine.