Saturday, September 25, 2010


The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. 1868.

From the prologue: I address these lines -- written in India-- to my relatives in England.

From chapter one: In the first part of Robinson Crusoe, at page one hundred and twenty-nine, you will find it thus written. 'Now I saw, though too late, the Folly of beginning a Work before we count the Cost, and before we judge rightly on our own Strength to go through with it.' Only yesterday, I opened my Robinson Crusoe at that place.

When a cursed diamond is stolen from Miss Rachel Verinder--on the very night it is given--it opens up quite a mystery. Leading the search for the thief is Mr. Franklin Blake, cousin and would-be suitor to the young lady. He calls for the police, a detective, but what he learns--what they all learn after a few weeks search--doesn't quite make sense. What is more surprising is that Miss Rachel doesn't want the thief to be found.

I have come to love Wilkie Collins. (My reviews of Man and Wife and Armadale.) He's a great storyteller. And I love his narration. I do. I really, really love how he tells a story. He's also very good with characters. There were so MANY characters to love in The Moonstone.

Is my favorite narrator Gabriel Betteredge, an elderly house-steward to the Verinder family, a man who is obsessed with Robinson Crusoe? He opens and closes the account--minus the epilogue. Or is my favorite narrator Miss Drusilla Clack,  a young woman obsessed with religion? Her section was definitely the most comical! I don't know how I could ever choose between the two! Of course, those are just two of the narrators--there's also Mr. Bruff, Franklin Blake, Ezra Jennings, Sergeant Cuff, and Mr. Candy.

Here is one of my favorite passages--from Miss Clack's narrative:
As soon as we were alone, my aunt reclined on the sofa, and then alluded, with some appearance of confusion, to the subject of her Will.
'I hope you won't think yourself neglected, Drusilla,' she said. 'I mean to give you your little legacy, my dear, with my own hand.'
Here was a golden opportunity! I seized it on the spot. In other words, I instantly opened my bag, and took out the top publication. It proved to be an early edition--only the twenty-fifth--of the famous anonymous work (believed to be by precious Miss Bellows), entitled The Serpent at Home. The design of the book - with which the worldly reader may not be acquainted - is to show how the Evil One lies in wait for us in all the most apparently innocent actions of our daily lives. The chapters best adapted to female perusal are 'Satan in the Hair Brush'; 'Satan behind the Looking Glass'; 'Satan under the Tea Table'; 'Satan out of the Window' - and many others.
'Give your attention, dear aunt, to this precious book - and you will give me all I ask.' With those words, I handed it to her open, at a marked passage - one continuous burst of burning eloquence! Subject: Satan among the Sofa Cushions.
Poor Lady Verinder (reclining thoughtlessly on her own sofa cushions) glanced at the book, and handed it back to me looking more confused than ever. (202-03)
When this attempt at witnessing proves unsuccessful, Miss Clack decides to hide tracts throughout her aunt's home. When the tracts come back to her, well, she decides to write out her favorite passages from her favorite tracts and send them to her aunt as letters. Concluding that her aunt might be suspicious to receive so many letters from her all at once, well, she has a few friends help her out in her work.

And Lady Verinder (Miss Rachel's mother) is not the only one Miss Clack is anxious to save...

Here is another quote I'd like to share--this time from Franklin Blake.
Some men have a knack for keeping appointments; and other men have a knack of missing them. I am one of the other men. Add to this, that I passed the evening at Portland Place, on the same seat with Rachel, in a room forty feet long, with Mrs. Merridew at the further end of it. Does anybody wonder that I got home at half-past twelve instead of half-past ten? How thoroughly heartless that person must be! And how earnestly I hope I may never make that person's acquaintance. (389)
I really enjoyed The Moonstone. I loved the characters. So many wonderfully quirky characters! And I found the pace--especially towards the end--to be so compelling. It was impossible to put this one down!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous said...

Great review, Becky - glad you enjoyed it to the end. L.

Anonymous said...

I love Wilkie Collins too! My favourites are The Woman in White and Armadale, but I enjoyed this one too. Great review.

Julie P said...

Wonderful review, Becky! Hope you have a great week....

Stephanie said...

It has been a year since I read The Woman in White, so I definitely need to get my Collins fix.

Amanda said...

I'm in the middle of this book right now listening to an audio book. I'm only 4 or 5 chapters in but loving it!

Jessica (The Bluestocking Society) said...

I've been struggling struggling struggling with BLEAK HOUSE. Maybe I need to let Dickens go for a while and try some Wilkie.

Kailana said...

I really want to read this. I thought maybe this year, but don't think I will have a chance. Great review, though!