No Name, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


After the tragic deaths of their parents, Magdalen and Norah discover the devastating news that they are both illegitimate and not entitled to any inheritance.

Norah is forced to become a governess to earn her keep but Magdalen has grander plans and embarks on an elaborate scheme of revenge against her cold-hearted relatives.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780099519027

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I got this book as a Christmas present and it turned out to be a real surprise, as I'd been vaguely under the impression that the only Collins books worth reading were Moonstone, Woman in White and (possibly) Armadale. As others have explained above, the plot revolves around the attempts by Magdalen Vanstone to put right the injustice done to herself and her sister Norah as a result of their father dying unexpectedly without having made a valid will.In his preface, Collins states (not altogether convincingly) that his primary objecitve is to study the psychology underlying Magdalen's vacillations between right and wrong. To this end, he intends to eschew his usual twists and turns and shock revelations. Well, up to a point .......The first thing to say is that the book is a real page-turner. Once past the initial scene-setting (itself very well done), it's hard to put the book down. This is helped by the fact that - unlike his friend and associate, Dickens - Collins does not really go in for copious sub-plots. As somebody else has mentioned here, the central section where Wragge and Lecounter go head to head with their rococo machinations is splendid, as well as being very funny at times.My one criticism would be that the book is fractionally too long. The cost of squeezing a couple more episodes out of the plot is that the coincidences pile up and plausibility takes a nose dive. But this is a minor quibble. This is a fine novel by a much overlooked writer.

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