Review - The Moonstone

The Moonstone
Author: Wilkie Collins
Pages: 350+


Rachel Verinder, a young Englishwoman, inherits a large Indian diamond on her eighteenth birthday. It is a legacy from her uncle, a corrupt English army officer who served in India. The diamond is of great religious significance as well as being extremely valuable, and three Hindu priests have dedicated their lives to recovering it. The story incorporates elements of the legendary origins of the Hope Diamond (or perhaps the Orloff Diamond). Rachel's eighteenth birthday is celebrated with a large party, whose guests include her cousin Franklin Blake. She wears the Moonstone on her dress that evening for all to see, including some Indian jugglers who have called at the house. Later that night, the diamond is stolen from Rachel's bedroom, and a period of turmoil, unhappiness, misunderstandings and ill-luck ensues. Told by a series of narratives from some of the main characters, the complex plot traces the subsequent efforts to explain the theft, identify the thief, trace the stone and recover it.

My thoughts:

First order of business, I'd like to give myself a pat on the back for finishing this book. I truly dreaded almost every moment of it.

The book is filled with social satire and witty commentary. Some are funny, many are not. Here, I'll let you be the judge:
A cloak (on a woman's back) is an emblem of charity -- it covers a multitude of sins (84)
Follow me carefully, and I will prove it in two words. You choose a cigar, you try it, and it disappoints you. What do you do upon that? You throw it away and try another. Now observe the application! You choosea woman, you try her, and she breaks your heart. Fool! take a lesson from your cigar-case. Throw her away, and try another! (124)
Poor thing! the bare idea of a man marrying for his own selfish and mercenary ends had never entered her head (194) 
Have you had enough? because there's a ton more I can share, thanks to the narratives of Betterredge.
Also, I was only mildly curious to learn why Rachel was acting so cruel to Franklin Blake...and in my opinion the only interesting character is Mr. Candy's assistant, Ezra Jennings. He's the unsung hero, the unlikely hero. Consequently, his narrative/involvment in the plot (the opium experiment) was the only part I enjoyed. However, this doesn't happen until the last maybe 50 or so pages. I think that's the major problem with this one: it's too slow and too tedious.

I know it's a classic, but I didn't care for it. And I'm a little confused because I really liked The Woman in White. I guess I'm in the minority of people who prefer The Woman in White over The Moonstone. It is for me the better of the two. But this is just my humble opinion. That is all.

The Moonstone

Two stars.

Smooth Criminals, Reading Challenge for 2012

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