The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
I wonder why I'd never heard of Wilkie Collins before. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, complete with mystery, intrigue, betrayal, love, Victorian morals and much humor. His writing is on par with his contemporary, Charles Dickens, and one of my favorite contemporary writers, Sarah Waters, has obviously been inspired by Wilkie Collins' writing.
Collins has peopled his book with some flamboyant, fussy and farcical characters. One of the most flamboyant, Count Fosco, narrates part of the tale and declares, "What a situation! I suggest it to the rising romance writers of England. I offer it, as totally new, to the worn-out dramatists of France."
Another of the most memorable characters, Uncle Frederick Fairlie, laments "It is the grand misfortune of my life that no one will let me alone."
The story is narrated by a number of different people through journal entries, letters, and straight narration as if it were an epic inquest. Collins was probably one of the first to use this technique in English literature. It works very well in this tale. Some of the voices are a bit too similar, but others, such as Fairlie and Fosco, lend a wonderful color to the narration.
I have another Collins book on my shelf - The Moonstone -- and look forward to reading it. I'm also itching to read some Dickens now. Collins has managed to start me on a path from which I may not return for quite awhile!