I read Man and Wife by Wilkie Collins last year. Collins uses this book to point out flaws in the marriage laws for Ireland and Scotland and specifically the legal disadvantages of married women and the control husbands have over them, a theme that is also common in his most recognized book, The Woman in White. Apparently back in 1800s Scotland all you had to do was tell someone you were married and automatically you’d be married, without any type of ceremony or legal paperwork. You’ll find the law and its social complications as a regular theme in many other of his books including Armadale, No Name, The Dead Alive, The Moonstone and The Law and the Lady.
This is my book, I bought it from Amazon, and it was a direct Amazon purchase, not through a book seller. I paid $15 for it and it is missing the last chapter and Epilogue. I read this months after purchasing it and was well past the return date. It says Chapter 57 which is the last chapter and then “The End”. I was able to print the final chapter and Epilogue from Project Gutenberg at Gutenberg.org. Make sure if you buy a physical book that you have a complete Chapter 57 and the Epilogue before purchasing, and I would recommend not purchasing it through Amazon. Man and Wife is in the public domain, which means it’s free for you to read online or listen to at Gutenberg.org or Librivox.org.
The scoundrel Geoffrey promises to marry Anne and then finds another wealthier woman to marry and tries to take advantage of an accidental situation that makes Anne appear to be married to Arnold. Arnold wants to marry Blanche, Anne’s childhood friend. It’s interesting to see how this all works out including some rogue characters who try to make matters harder for our main protagonists. And there is an ironic twist at the end, which makes for a satisfying ending and I am so glad that I was able to find the ending at Gutenberg.org when I needed it.
The Woman in White, No Name and Armadale are still my most favorite Wilkie Collins books. But it kept me reading and I badly wanted to know the ending when I realized my book didn’t have it. If you like suspenseful books about the law and you’re a Wilkie Collins fan like me, find your quiet place and start reading or listening.