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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Pearly Queen
  • 21-11-2020

Interesting twists and turns to keep readers guessing

A well written compelling, if overlong story with quite a few twists. Holds enough interest to keep listeners in suspense. Memories of Dickens who also wrote long novels and recommended to readers who have enough time to enjoy the leisurely pace.

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  • Pamela
  • 20-11-2020

In terms of social history worthy of interest.

Here is a window on women and illegitimacy in Victorian society. And I'm sure it must have been controversial at the time. In essence No Name is a microcosm of the options for middle class women in Victorian England. Originally it appeared in a serialized form for Dickens' magazine All the Year Round and frankly it does show that style that all those who write in that form originally reveal. And it is shown through stretching and embellishing that clearly in an edited book would be removed. I can see as a serial it would work better as the padding would not be as obvious. This also holds true of the shaky plot which relies heavily on incredible coincidences and deus ex machina. And characters are rather in some ways two dimensional and at other times become like personality plasticine to make the story fit. Even suspending disbelief does not entirely eradicate the unconvincing and frankly easy to guess outcome. The performances are absolutely excellent and carry the story exceedingly well and make it as enjoyable as it possibly could be.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-10-2020

my favourite Wilkie Collins book

I read this over 20 years ago and decided to revisit it on Audible... it was fantastic and as good a story as I remember. An excellent production . I highly recommend....

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  • GordonSalter
  • 05-10-2020

Fabulous!

One of my top two favorite novels along with David Copperfield. Read by true professionals. So grateful to Audible for making this one!

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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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  • Nancie Buckland
  • 23-08-2020

wonderful

Wonderful book, beautifully read. A great favourite, lovely to have it in a new format. Thank you Audible.

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