Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone, a priceless Indian diamond which had been brought to England as spoils of war, is given to Rachel Verrinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night, the stone is stolen. Suspicion then falls on a hunchbacked housemaid, on Rachel's cousin Franklin Blake, on a troupe of mysterious Indian jugglers, and on Rachel herself.

The phlegmatic Sergeant Cuff is called in, and with the help of Betteredge, the Robinson Crusoe-reading loquacious steward, the mystery of the missing stone is ingeniously solved.


 Beautiful inside frontpiece of The Moonstone

When I found this re-published 1868 New York edition sitting on the Fiction shelf of my local Barnes and Noble, I just grabbed it. This edition is beautifully illustrated in a gorgeous blue hardcover book and very hard to resist!  My favorite Wilkie Collins novel remains, ‘The Woman in White’ followed by ‘No Name.’  That being said, everyone has raved to me about ‘The Moonstone’ over the years so I had to read it.  I love the descriptive tone of Wilkie Collins and the true ‘Victorian’ language in which he writes. I am immediately captivated and brought willingly into his world. I believe most of what is happening  just so I can enjoy the ride.  

I enjoyed ‘The Moonstone’ overall and read it with the analytical eye of it being tagged as ‘the first English detective novel!’  It works for me; especially since I am not an avid Sherlock Holmes fan if I’m honest. The only one I truly enjoyed was ‘Hound of the Baskervilles.’ I really am more of a Bram Stoker girl and highly recommend his other novels. 

So back to ‘The Moonstone’.  The premise and main character is the moonstone itself; a yellow diamond captured by a British officer during a military campaign in India in 1799. You see, the diamond was given to one of the younger relatives a Rachel Verinder but hours after it arrives at the Verinder estate it vanishes or did a relative steal it instead? Wilkie Collins begins what will be termed in future detective novels as throwing in several ‘red herrings’ and sending the reader on a goose chase following some false leads. Don’t worry the journey is well worth it! 

This is a mystery told from the perspective of multiple characters so expect to follow several narrators constantly interjecting the reader on its path. For instance, the beginning is told by the house steward of the Verinder estate a Mr. Gabriel Bettredge then followed by a relative Miss Clack. The Moonstone is a fascinating thriller for its day and unless you have an interst in jewels, Victorian England and India be careful because your attention could stray tempting you to rush through it and flip through chapters! Not that I did that…right away!

3 comments:

Kevin Marsh said...

Well done, a great find, a gem indeed!

Kimberly Eve said...

Thanks Kevin. Yes, it really is a beautifully produced edition and I'm so glad I have it.

Bethany Walmsley said...

I was wondering weather the book says who created the cover or which publishing house printed it. If you could let me know that would be great just send me a email. Thanks!

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