18. A novel by a famous author, other than the one(s) they are best known for: Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde
List Progress: 17/25
In between chapters of the realistic, dour, painful Marriage of a Thousand Lies, I interspersed something a bit more cheerful with Lady Windermere’s Fan, a 1892 comedy play by Oscar Wilde himself. I have never read any Wilde, no The Importance of Being Earnest or The Picture of Dorian Gray, so I am coming into his body of work a bit sideways. As an introduction to this famous figure, Lady Windermere’s Fan is accessible, easily readable and engaging…and that’s about it. I can see how a lively cast could make this work sparkle, but on the page, I found myself fairly neutral towards it.
Lady Windermere’s Fan tells the story of a high-society young woman who is informed by the community gossips that her husband has been seen consorting with another woman. She reacts poorly to this news and makes hasty and drastic responses, while her husband and the other woman deal with their own web of secrets. The plot is fairly basic and linear, but it sets the stage for a lot of great wordplay and eloquent speeches. There was more drama than I anticipated, as some of the scenes do dig deep into Lady Windermere’s conflicted emotions and the pathos of all these secrets and lies. But the setting and the high-society position of all the characters undercuts the drama by making it all feel so frivolous.
I know that people come to Wilde for the wordcraft, and it is good, would probably be a ton of fun with some talented actors outfitted in lavish costumes. But sitting down and reading it was just okay. I’ll be sure to read Earnest or Dorian Gray before I finalize my opinion on Oscar Wilde, but it’s fairly neutral as is.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, but try to see it on stage first.