Wilkie Collins is one of my favorite authors. Or at least, he wrote two of my favorite books – The Woman in White and The Moonstone. These two are really at the pinnacle of the nineteenth century sensational novel. They both could keep a very sleepy person awake all night. The first time I read The Moonstone, many years ago when I was a married woman, I could not put it down, and had to read a few more pages, and then a few more pages, and then a few more pages until the very wee hours of the morning. The next day, Dennis complained that I had stayed up too late reading. “But my book was so good,” I said. “You read it and you’ll see.” So that evening, he started it just as I was drifting off to the land of Nod. The next night, he was reading something else. “Didn’t you like The Moonstone”? I asked, disappointed. He looked a little embarrassed. “I finished it,” he admitted. "Just as you were waking up." See? It is a real page-turner. On the other hand, Wilkie Collins has written some of the most boring books ever. The Dead Secret is a perfect example. I can’t believe it is still in print. It’s that silly. One knows what the secret is on about page four - or maybe even page two. I carried on because I could not believe that the plot could be so obvious, and hoped that some surprise twist might be coming. As anyone who keeps track (on the sidebar) of what I am reading will know, it took me weeks to finish this one. Then one night I simply could not go to sleep, and this book seemed like the perfect soporific tool to induce a snooze. But no – I read on to the bitter end, and there were no surprises. I turned off the light, hoping for a boredom induced torpor – but none came. I staggered downstairs, eyes very bleary, and looked about for something else to read. It had to be good, but not too good, since I did want to go to sleep before it was time to wake up. My friends, The Twins, had been amazed that I had never read a Horatio Alger book, but I thought they sounded potentially dull. I knew all about the “Rags to Riches if Only One is Sufficiently Morally Upright and Industrious” themes, and that storyline did not have a lot of appeal. Plus, I had never really had access to one of Alger’s books. Or so I thought. As I was searching my bookshelves, in my sleep deprived fog, through the haze, I espied an Alger book which I hadn’t even realized that I had. The perfect thing! It was fun to read, and actually did eventually have the desired soporific effect.
I might add that no golf club appeared in this novel, either onstage or off.