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Publisher's Summary

Magdalen and Norah Vanstone have known only comfort and affluence for their entire lives. Orphaned suddenly following the unexpected deaths of their parents, the illegitimate sisters find themselves flung into the other extreme of living: their father had neglected to amend his will following their parents' recent marriage, leaving them with nothing, and their bitter, estranged uncle, the legal inheritor of the family fortune, mercilessly refuses them support. 

They have no money, no rights and no name. Norah, the elder of the two, looks for work as a governess and accepts her fate. Fiery and headstrong Magdalen, however, does not. She vows revenge and schemes a series of traps to recover the fortune, no matter the cost....

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

Public Domain (P)2020 Naxos Audiobooks

What listeners say about No Name

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  • John
  • 06-07-2020

Good and Evil and Funny

“Here,” writes Collins in his introduction, “is one more book that depicts the struggle of a human creature, under those opposing influences of Good and Evil.” More particularly, it depicts two different reactions to personal disaster: passive acceptance and active resistance. But don’t let that “one more book” fool you; this is an exceptional work, delving into the big questions while, at the same time, being as downright funny as any book I’ve ever read.

The literary slot it fits most neatly is the Victorian “novel of sensation”, an enticing mélange of mystery and scandal. Dickens-like, it’s also something of a piece of “cause” literature. Without spoiling the primary turning point in the story, I’ll only say that, unlike his mentor Dickens, Collins lets the situation speak for itself. Not until the third of the “Scenes” into which the novel is divided does he indulge in a burst of Dickensian social criticism, and then he takes aim at urban poverty in general, not the specific issue that sets the novel in motion. This merciful avoidance of the soapbox makes one wish Collins had never touched laudanum, the drug that inexorably diminished his talents and left us with but four fine novels to enjoy.

The cast recording concept works less well here, where narratives are far more intertwined than in The Moonstone or The Lady in White. But where Collins gives a single character enough material to support an extended monologue, it works very well—and nowhere better than in the case of Captain Wragge.

This former militia officer and current “moral agriculturist” (i.e.: con man) is a brilliant compound of comic relief and breathtaking audacity, shaky morals and strict bookkeeping. With the exception of Wodehouse’s S. F. Ukridge, I’ve never met a deeper fictional rogue who made me laugh harder, in the process extorting my admiration—if not precisely for him, then certainly for his creator. Again, the comparison between Dickens’ inconceivably good heroes and irretrievably bad villains, and Collins’ more complex characters, is the difference between cardboard and flesh and blood. Take our heroine Magdalen. In truly un-Dickensian fashion, she’s a mixture of the admirable and the shocking: undaunted determination, low cunning, family loyalty and ungovernable emotion.

Another remarkable aspect of the book is how Collins can create engaging secondary characters who pass in and out of his story and, before you have a chance to miss them, they're replaced by others, just as interesting. Like his mentor, his invention seems inexhaustible. And the same holds true of Collins’ plot; the path to the inevitable happy ending is just as inventive—and just as elusive of the listener’s expectations.

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  • C. Hillard
  • 03-01-2021

Magnificently captivating!

I rarely take the time to write a review, but this book is more than worth the time! The characters were realistically flawed and compelling, even those with more minor roles in the twisting plot. The narration was perfection to the point I felt I was actually watching a beautifully staged play or movie! cannot wait to listen to another Wilkie Collins masterpiece.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-09-2020

Nope

I could not finish after reading half of it. An agonizing listen. Read something else.

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  • JA Cohen
  • 20-07-2021

Captivating and Clever--I did not want it to end!

I didn't know what to expect with NO NAME. I'd read Wilkie Collins's two most well-known masterpieces, THE WOMAN IN WHITE and THE MOONSTONE and really enjoyed them both, but I'll admit I wondered if any of Collins's other novels were worth reading (after all, no one seems to talk about the others when Collins's name is mentioned). But, I think I enjoyed NO NAME more than either of his two most well-known books!

The first hour or so, where characters and threads are set up, was a bit slow, and I was considering whether it would be worth 27+ hours of my time, but after the characters are introduced, I soon started to wonder what the "big secret" was and how it would affect the rest of the story. The first big section leads up the reveal of the secret, and I did not come anywhere near to guessing it (I definitely recommend not reading too many reviews with spoilers if you can).

Nicholas Boulton's narration works so well here--his voices for Captain Wragg and Mrs. Wragg were some of my favorites. I had more than a few laughs from the oddness of Captain Wragg who almost single-handedly kept the long middle section of the story from dragging (Collins uses a number of clever devices throughout to sustain the long story, but Captain Wragg's intrigues were some of the most entertaining). There's a lot going on in this book and threads come, disappear for a while, and then return to rear their heads in spectacular fashion.

Collins clearly thought that his readers would find his heroine morally repugnant for a lot of her actions throughout the book, so there is a lot of moral justification for things she does, which would not be so necessary in a novel today. By most modern standards, many of the things she does just aren't very shocking, but it's clear from other characters' reactions that we're in a Victorian world, and you have to listen to the book with that frame of reference. Yet, this book was so enjoyable. I fell in love with most of the characters, and it felt very much like listening to a stage play--just what I want in such a long novel. I couldn't stop listening so I could hear what would happen next, and yet I was so sad when it ended because I wouldn't be able to spend more time with these characters I'd grown so attached to. If you like Victorian novels, complicated heroines, or Wilkie Collins's other novels, definitely give this a try!

Narration Note: The first time one of the other narrators picks up the story by reading one of the many letters, it's a bit jarring. However, the other narrators only read the characters' letters, so if you're having trouble reconciling the voices they use with the voices you've been hearing Boulton use for hours, keep in mind that most of the letters don't last very long.

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  • Lotis
  • 22-03-2021

Fabulous

This book is seemingly endless, intricate and well read. Some amusing characters and all characters well drawn. A delight!

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 22-07-2020

A brilliant piece of theatre

Published in 1862 between The Moonstone and The Woman in White, I think Wilkie Collins's much less well-known 'sensation novel' No Name is far superior and much more rewarding. With the chapters headed and shaped as acts in a stage play of intrigue and drama, all of its 27 hours are totally absorbing. The cast is brilliant (as would be expected from Naxos) and contributes hugely to the theatrical listening enjoyment.

It is read these days probably primarily as an example of Collins's way-ahead proto-feminism with his creation of a defiant, brave, independent, creative heroine in Magdalen Vanstone, and in his portrayal of women whose lives were blighted by poverty and or pregnancy. The book is all these things, but also a huge amount more is plaited and entwined into the tightly woven complex plot.

Norah and Magdalen Vanstone are left with 'No Name' after both her parents die suddenly and the girls find that they have nothing. Their parents had in fact married only just before their deaths and Mr Vanstone had been killed before he could have his new will signed - so all goes to his hated brother, the girls' uncle, who refuses to help his illegitimate nieces left with 'no name', no home and no money.

Norah resigns herself to becoming a governess, but feisty Magdalen embarks on a mission to retrieve the money rightfully belonging to her sister and herself. It is Magdalen's outlandish adventures which fill the chapters. Wilkie Collins himself kept 2 households with two 'wives' and illegitimate children unknown to one another for 30 years, so the major theme of disguise and duplicity is no surprise and appears in many intriguing forms throughout Magdalen's adventures including marriage on false pretenses.

Collins is frequently compared to Dickens and although he is usually thought to be second to Dickens, I think he's his equal. Collins' women are deeper and more vital than Dickensian women and he doesn't fall back on pure caricature. Collins' range of themes and strands are staggering: the complexity of legal rules particularly those governing wills and money loom large; the theatrical flourish of physical dangers, cliff hangers and curtain falls at the end of chapters; villainy and swindling in all its forms including its exciting, charming faces; the snares of marriage; sea-faring and the psyches of retired sea captains; letters, correspondence, documents quoted in full relating events and feelings; secrets and discoveries; convenient deaths; the intricacies of detail in dress and manners; the inclusion of different social classes... and of course human love in its many heart-warming manifestations!

It's a great 27 hours and makes a wonderful world to lose yourself in if you feel the need to escape our stressful world for a while.

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  • Emma T
  • 18-06-2020

Entertaining story, brilliant characters, performed superbly!

I throughly enjoyed No Name, and probably more so than The Woman in White and the Moonstone - and I loved those novels. This story has more humour and less mystery than the other two books. The colourful characters are of Dickens standard and are performed superbly, particularly Captain Wragge and his wife - especially his wife! 😂 I highly recommend this audio book.

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  • M
  • 13-06-2020

Wilkie Collins

After the Woman in White and The Moonstone, this book No Name is just as great. It tells the story of two young daughters who were disinherited because of the laws of the time and the struggle of the youngest at aged 18 to regain their inheritance and place in society. Full of diverse character, audacity and intrigue, would make a great film.

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  • brenda Hawker
  • 02-09-2020

Brilliant

Narration excellent ! the story gripping, I think it would make a great series will try another by this author.

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  • Mrs. Susannah C. Lester
  • 27-08-2020

I cannot recommend this highly enough

The narrator for this wonderful book is nothing short of a genius. He shines an individual light on all the characters in such a way as to amaze and enchant. Wilkie Collins' writing is classical and complex but so eloquent and beautiful that it carries you along in it's tide, and is a work of art in itself. The story is clever with a few lessons in life to learn along the way. I haven't quite finished it yet but couldn't wait to write a review. I loved this book!

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  • S M.
  • 23-05-2021

Gripping from beginning to end

Willie Collins never fails to enthral me with his books. I heartily recommend it. The reading is extremely well performed.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-04-2021

Perfection, didn't want it to end

I had such a brilliant experience with this audiobook. The story was gripping, the writing was sublime and the narration was truly brilliant. The narrator made the book for me, he performed it fantastically and has a wonderful voice. I feel bereft now it's over!

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  • C. Bromfield
  • 21-03-2021

My favourite book read beautifully

Loved it. Nicholas Boulton is wonderful to listen to. Other voices added charm and variety.

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  • Jo Longley
  • 14-03-2021

Excellent

I love Wilkie Collins’ novels, but don’t always have the time to read them myself. This is brilliant and I also have this production’s narration of Armadale, too. Nicholas Boulton (who has the majority of the reading) is really excellent, as are all the cast, and it would be great if they did all of Wilkie’s books: I would definitely buy them! First class

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  • ziiigggg
  • 03-01-2021

bit dated

the narration is first class in this classic tale from a contemporary of dickens. we have some jolly characters and a bit of a plot, but sadly it is all just too drawn out and repetitive for todays ears, in my opinion. others might enjoy the journey, and differ.

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