To while away the time until the next project (The Queen of Hearts) was finished, I downloaded ‘Poor Miss Finch‘.
It certainly doesn’t count among the best books he has written. It is a wildly construed story from beginning to end. The lead characters are Madame Pratolungo, who narrates the story, Miss Lucilla Finch, a blind young girl, Oscar and Nugent de Borg (twin brothers with an inherited annual income of 2,000 £ each). Furthermore there are Lucilla’s parents, her aunt, and the German surgeon Herr Grosse, who are involved in the unfolding of the story.
None of the characters are convincing; they are either black or white. Mr Finch (the pastor of the village) is described as an ugly, petty man, willing to sell his daughter if he can get money out of it, Mrs Finch is described as a slovenly birthing machine.
Lucilla is lovely and charming despite her father and stepmother.
Mrs Pratolungo has some radical political views but is otherwise quite the gentlewoman.
The twin brothers are the two faces of a coin, although that only shows toward the end. Both are cowardly (although I’m not sure that notion was intended by the author). Both fall in love in Lucilla, and thus the complications begin.
Collins shows off his knowledge of medicine–although I’m not sure how true his statements were at the time. I looked up treatments for epilepsy, and apparently, people were indeed treated with nitrate of silver back then.
However, I couldn’t find any mention of its effects on the human physiognomy, other than that it is now considered dangerous and totally ineffective for epilepsy.
Not being an ophthalmologist, I can’t possibly judge about the eye story, but it didn’t convince me; however the German doctor was quite convincing in his “Germanness”.
Now, with all this in mind, you may wonder why I listened to the whole story. I’ll tell you why: it is superbly read by Sandra G. I don’t know whether she is still active on LibriVox, but it doesn’t look like it. More is the pity.
Mind, the above is just my personal opinion. For the exact contradictory opinion (as well as some which I’d agree with) you could read this article and comments.