The Moonstone, a yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and believed to bring bad luck to its owner, is bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night the priceless stone is stolen again and when Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate the crime, he soon realizes that no one in Rachel’s household is above suspicion. Hailed by T. S. Eliot as ‘the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels’, The Moonstone is a marvellously taut and intricate tale of mystery, in which facts and memory can prove treacherous and not everyone is as they first appear.
As those who have read my ‘About Me’ section will know I’m a Military Spouse and, with that said we are in the throes of moving season for the Military. Even though our move is a way off yet I decided to get ahead of the game by sorting through my books, and came across this in a box. Needless to say, once I opened the cover everything else was forgotten.
Wilkie Collins, for those who may not be aware, was a friend of Charles Dickens and a reader may think that because of this their writing styles would be somewhat similar; this is not the case they have drastically different writing styles and because of this I thoroughly enjoy Wilkie Collins novels as much as I despise anything penned by his friend who is just too long-winded and maudlin for my taste.
The storyline in this book is narrated from the perspective of each member of the unique cast of characters that the Author brings to life on his pages. They are entertaining, smart and funny, bringing out a lot of the social norms of the period in their narratives, whilst at the same time showing that things were changing much to the annoyance of one particular chauvinistic male. Because the Author is able to convince the reader that the plot is being revealed to them on a personal level, rather than them being a spectator in the unfolding mystery, the characters become ones you can love or hate as you would people you meet in real life. The characters in this novel are societies ‘Gods of the Universe’; they are privileged, pampered but definitely human, a trait that is often lacking in more modern novels in this genre. There was not one character I preferred over another, as each brings their unique perspective of the world around them into the tale, and through this the reader is able to experience more of what is happening behind the main storyline.
As in most novels written in this time period, the location description are vast, sweeping and very detailed; it is verbose to the extreme and a reader that is new to its pages may wonder how anything ever was accomplished in Victorian times when they used 20 words to convey something we use 4 words for today. Despite this it is still an excellent read, no matter how many times I open this book, or listen to it on audio book. It is not fast-paced by any means, and those readers that enjoy this in a mystery book may find that aspect off-putting, but regardless of whether you solve the mystery before the reveal or a thrown off the scent by the varying twists and turns, there is still plenty in the novel to keep you turning the pages to the very end.
I would highly recommend this as a good engrossing read for anyone who likes mystery novels, those books set in the Victorian era or who is curious about the book purported to be ‘the first mystery novel’. I’ve read Wilkie Collins novel the Woman in White, and will no doubt continue to revisit both of his works in the years to come.