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The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone (original 1868; edition 2012)

by Wilkie Collins

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7,298166484 (3.96)657
Title:The Moonstone
Authors:Wilkie Collins
Info:International Alliance Pro-Publishing, LLC (2012), Paperback, 366 pages
Collections:Your library, Currently reading
Tags:fiction, classic lit, mystery

Work details

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)

  1. 90
    Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Booksloth)
  2. 62
    Drood by Dan Simmons (Jannes)
    Jannes: A (fictional) tale about Collins and his friendship with Dickens. "The Moonstone" in prominently featured. Give it a try if you're into historical thrillers.
  3. 41
    Uncle Silas: A Tale of Bartram-Haugh by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (Anonymous user)
  4. 31
    Dead Men Tell No Tales by E. W. Hornung (TineOliver)
    TineOliver: Both are essentially mystery novels, although Collins is both more pioneering and, in my view better written. While the two novels were published approximately 30 years apart, both are set in the mid 19th century. Reading both books allows the reader to place the works in context of other mystery novels from the 19th century. Accordingly, I am not suggesting that just because you enjoyed one means you will enjoy the other to the same extent.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 160 (next | show all)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Collins is an excellent writer and although the book is quite long I just delighted in the luxurious language and the descriptive passages. It was quite interesting as well to read the writings of the principal characters in relation to the theft of the moonstone.
Because I love mysteries, I am sorry I waited to long to read this first detective novel. ( )
1 vote book58lover | Dec 21, 2016 |
The worst of all events occurs at a young woman’s birthday party, it is neither murder nor theft but scandal! While Victorian readers might have seen the stunning narrative of The Moonstone in those terms, Wilkie Collins’ classic to us today is one of the first detective novels that paved the way for so many others with innovations in structure that keep the reader engaged.

As the reader quickly expects the titular diamond is present throughout the novel whether physically or in the minds of all those who relate their portion of the events before and after it’s theft on the night of Rachel Verinder’s birthday. The main narrator of the story is the Verinder family butler, Gabriel Betteredge, who gives a complete account of the events leading up the theft and those when the criminal case suddenly ends. Betteredge’s point-of-view makes a return during the second part of the book in which numerous other characters detail events that subsequently happened over the next two years. Collins’ builds the readers expectations to a fever pitch throughout Betteredge’s account until suddenly the narrative takes the first of many twists until the reader is once again eagerly is turning the page to see what’s going to happen next until the culprit and location of the fabulous gem is firmly established.

Given the era in which The Moonstone was written, many Victorian ideas and social norms are obviously in the narrative. However, unlike some other authors of the time Collins takes them both seriously and satirically to the enjoyment of the reader. Some of the best writing in the book is the character of Ms. Clack, an holier-than-thou spinster written so over-the-top that readers will quickly have a smile on their face as they go over her account. Although subtitled as a “Romance”, The Moonstone shouldn’t be seen as the forerunner of that modern genre. While a few star-crossed romances are in the novel, it is the mystery and the various types of detection that are the main focus of the narrative.

When I picked up this book and saw it was one of the first true detective novels, I wondered what I was getting. Upon finishing The Moonstone I can relate that all my apprehensions of stilted prose and mannerisms were quickly erased from my mind as the narrative and Collins’ style overwhelmed me. If you are a fan of mystery or detective novels, get this book and be happily surprised like I was. ( )
1 vote mattries37315 | Nov 16, 2016 |
Many years of reviews about a great classic detective novel,THE MOONSTONE, prompted me to finally read it via DailyLit.com.

Yes, it reveals a decent mystery, but it is cloaked in page after page of boring repetitive tedium which ultimately result in some true suspense in the final pages.

It could have been a fine novella if less tedious, with goofy plot twists.

Another problem is that one of the main character's Bible is ROBINSON CRUSOE: he quotes from this frequently as a guide with NO mention of slavery. Strange
not to have noticed that Rob was on his way to Africa to be a royal slave trader with no conscience.

Two great quotes are what I came away with:

"We are all of us more or less unwilling to be brought into the world. And we are all of us right."


"After the lapse of a minute, I roused my manhood and opened the door."

These are the true Classics! ( )
  m.belljackson | Oct 29, 2016 |
Wilkie Collins has never disappointed me. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
I read this as a buddy read with my Goodreads’ friend Laura, and it was fun to discuss it as we went along. Reading it with her helped me persist and finish it. I’m appreciative to her for waiting for me while I waited for my library copy and then sometimes waiting for me to catch up with her while we read.

This book is incredibly hard for me to rate and even more difficult to review.

I’m going to settle on 2 stars, possibly coming close to 2 ½ stars. As usual, I’m rating based on my personal reading experience. What’s weird is that I can’t give it a higher rating, but usually I regret reading anything less than a 3 star book and sometimes anything less than a 4 star book. I’m getting pickier and pickier about how I spend my reading time. Yet I’m glad I read this book and I certainly enjoyed parts of it. Mostly it was just okay though. It was easy to put down and usually not easy to pick up, and when I read it was a struggle and rarely a page-turner. Much of the time it felt like work to read it. I read most of it at a glacial pace, and felt frustrated. At times it felt tortuous, at times I got pleasure from reading it.

I usually read everything in a book. Absolutely everything. I didn’t read the two introductions (many pages!) before I read the novel because luckily they warned of spoilers. I ‘d intended to read them after I finished the novel, but I didn’t. I’m skipping them. When I finished the last page of the novel I felt as though I’d read enough and didn’t want to read more about the book, except for some more Goodreads members’ reviews.

Part of my difficulty, I think, is that it had been many years since I’d read books from this era. It took me time to get used to the writing style. Anachronisms abound but since the book was written in the mid-1800s and the bulk of the story does take place during 1848-1849 I could forgive the sensibilities expressed. The sexism, nationalism, classism, and possibly racism were to be expected. The book was published as a serial and I could tell. It felt slow and meandering and sometimes confusing, and a lot happens, but I didn’t like the flow of the narrative. Also, the chapter numbers showed up just anywhere on the pages and were not highlighted for noticing in any way. I didn’t like the structure. My copy at least had a Contents page that showed the different narratives with the names of the characters narrating and their corresponding page numbers. That helped a lot. I sent that information to my buddy because she didn’t even have that as a guide of what was to come in her edition.

There were multiple narrators and that I found fun. I liked quite a few of the characters. Some just got dropped though, never to return. A couple of the characters are real hoots. I did enjoy a lot of the humor in the book. It is funny and witty and there is a lot of irreverence, all positives. I did smile and chuckle frequently. I did enjoy portions of it.

One main aspect re the solving of the mystery less than thrilled me (though it could have been worse) and I did like the two main resolutions. I also liked the unsolved mystery about one character. I thought that having that loose end made the book better. I have read that this is considered the “first modern mystery” and if that’s true it’s a decent one.

When I realized that one of the main characters was an avid fan of the book Robinson Crusoe I looked up that book’s plot and interpretations since I haven’t read it, and I was afraid I’d dislike this book because of what I learned about that novel, but it turned out to not really interfere with what enjoyment I had.

One thing that surprised me was that one of the characters, an attorney, said “Cool!” and used the expression in the way we would today. I thought that meaning of the word originated in the 1950s. I guess not.

I know that this book has mostly high ratings here and I look forward to seeing why others feel as they do about the book. I’ve read some reviews of it over the years. Now I’ll read more. Other than that I’m happy to be done with this book. Of all the Wilkie Collins books I thought I’d like this one best though I guess I’ll leave Woman in White on my to read list, at least for now. ( )
  Lisa2013 | Sep 17, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (115 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Collins, Wilkieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Capriolo, EttoreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cole, G. D. H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cole, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Connolly, JoyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eliot, T. S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jeffrey, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karl, Frederick R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lane, Dr. LauriatIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laurora, HoracioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maine, G. F.General editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nayder, LillianAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stewart, J. I. M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Willis, ChristineEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 of our own Strength to go through with it.'
Intending praise, T. S. Eliot slung an albatross around the neck of The Moonstone with his encomium: 'the first and best of detective novels.' (Introduction)
In some of my former novels, the object proposed has been to trace the influence of circumstances upon character. (Preface)
The circumstances under which The Moonstone was originally written have invested the book - in the author's mind - with an interest peculiarly its own. (Preface to a New Edition)
I address these lines - written in India - to my relatives in England. (Prologue)
We are all of us more or less unwilling to be brought into the world. And we are all of us right.
It is one of my rules in life, never to notice what I don't understand.
Last words
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Stolen from the forehead of a Hindu idol, the dazzling gem known as "The Moonstone" resurfaces at a birthday party in an English country home-with an enigmatic trio of watchful Brahmins hot on its trail. Laced with superstitions, suspicion, humor, and romance, this 1868 mystery draws readers into a compelling tale whose twists and turns range from sleepwalking to experimentation with opium.

Described by T.S. Eliot as a "master of plot and situation," Collins possessed gifts of characterization that rivaled those of his close friend, Charles Dickens. The Moonstone exhibits these skills with suspenseful and dramatic effects, as the narrative passes from one colorful character to the next. The novel is particularly distinguished by the appearance of Sergeant Cuff, a prototype of the English detective hero and the harbinger of a popular tradition of sleuthing.
Haiku summary
History is made
as first detective novel
in English language.
Rachel gets diamond
for birthday. It's stolen at
night – call detective!

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375757856, Paperback)

"The Moonstone is a page-turner," writes Carolyn Heilbrun. "It catches one up and unfolds its amazing story through the recountings of its several narrators, all of them enticing and singular." Wilkie Collins’s spellbinding tale of romance, theft, and murder inspired a hugely popular genre–the detective mystery. Hinging on the theft of an enormous diamond originally stolen from an Indian shrine, this riveting novel features the innovative Sergeant Cuff, the hilarious house steward Gabriel Betteridge, a lovesick housemaid, and a mysterious band of Indian jugglers.

This Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the definitive 1871 edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:31 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

Rachel Verrinder receives the stone as a gift and does not realize that it has been passed to her in a sinister form of revenge by John Herncastle who, it transpires, acquired the moonstone by means of murder and theft. The jewel also brings bad luck. The stone disappears on the very night it is given to Rachel, though, and the tale concerns the unveiling of the culprit after the intervention of Sergeant Cuff, a famous London detective.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 19 descriptions

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18 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434089, 0141198877

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