Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Wilkie Collins, Poor Miss Finch (1872)

So the narrator is Madame Pratolungo, a widowed Frenchwoman with revolutionary politics (though that last isn't super-relevant).  Penniless, she ends up in England where she gets a situation as a companion for a young woman, Lucilla Finch, who is blind.  Lucilla ends up engaged to this fellow named Oscar Dubourg, who is leading a quiet life.  But then, disaster: some no-good types come to rob Oscar's house and whack him on the head.  That's bad!  But he recovers.  That's good!  But now he's subject to regular seizures.  That's bad!  But there's a cure.  That's good!  But the cure is silver nitrate, which gives people who take it a blue complexion (that's a real thing)!  That's...bad?  Well, what's bad is that Lucilla, in her blindness, has conceived an instinctive revulsion for people with dark complexions.  What will happen if she finds out?  Or even, if she recovers her sight?  Oscar has an identical twin brother (oh yes) named Nugent, living in America; he's a great guy, seemingly; previously, Oscar had been tried for murder and would likely have been hanged if Nugent hadn't found an exonerating witness at the last minute.  And now he's found a German doctor--one of those classic Comedy Foreigners--who may be able to restore Lucilla's vision (she's been blind almost since birth).  But oh no, now Nugent has fallen in love with Lucilla as well.  What follow are...well, "hijinx" would be overstating the case, but a sort-of drama.  It's not exactly that I don't want to spoil it; more that it's kind of convoluted and I can't be bothered.  Anyway, you can probably tell from the above whether you want to read the book, and that the answer is "no."

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