The narrative, related in succession by Walter Hartright and other characters in the story, starts with his midnight encounter on a lonely road with a mysterious and agitated woman dressed entirely in white, whom he helps to escape from pursuers.
Combining a teasing plot with a vivid portrait of Victorian England, Collins makes his characters reveal themselves - and the solution to the mystery - by telling their own stories.
Horror lies waiting. A sinister Countess is driven mad by a dark secret. An innocent woman is made the instrument of retribution. A murdered man's fury reaches beyond the grave. When Countess Narona marries Agnes Lockwood's fiance and takes him to live in a rundown Venetian palace, strange things start happening.