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The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone (original 1868; edition 2012)

by Wilkie Collins

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7,024154515 (3.97)634
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. 21
    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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English (150)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (156)
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
While storms raged, while at high tide waves hit the sea wall with such force that the house shook, I have been spent the dark evenings re-reading ‘The Moonstone’, secure in the knowledge that out house was built not long after the publication of Wilkie Collins’ wonderful book and so it has survived many storms and was so solidly built that it should survive many more.

I think that ‘The Moonstone’ is pitched at the perfect point between crime fiction and sensation fiction, and it makes me wish that I could have been a Victorian reader, so that I could have read it when it was new, original and innovative, and so that I could read it with my mind uncluttered by more than a century of books that have come since then, and a few that I can think of that clearly have been influenced by this wonderful tale.

I am sure that Conan-Doyle read this book; I suspect that Victoria Holt had it in mind when she named her novel ‘The Shivering Sands’; and I am quite certain that Hercule Poirot’s retirement to the country to grow vegetable marrows was a tribute to Seargeant Cuff and his wish to see out his days growing roses ….. but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m not sure that ‘The Moonstone’ has stood the test of time as well as some of Wilkie Collins’ other work, but it is still a fine entertainment, and among the most readable of classics.

The moonstone – a fabulous Hindu diamond – is seized – some would say stolen – during the storming of Seringapatam. The taker of the diamond believes it to be cursed, and takes serious steps to ensure his own safety and the safety of his jewel. In his will he leaves it to his niece, the daughter of his estranged sister. And so the moonstone is given to Rachel Verinder on her 18th birthday. That night the moonstone disappears. The case is investigated by Seargeant Cuff, of the new detective force, and an extraordinary sequence of events will unfold before the truth of what happened that night, and the fate of the jewel, is made clear.

The tale is told by a series of narrators, because this is an account of the moonstone compiled some time after the events it describes by an interested party. He brought together family papers and accounts of events that he asked those who were best placed to report, to create a continuous narrative.

That device works wonderfully well, controlling what the reader knew without the reader having to feel manipulated, and adding depth to the characters by viewing them through different eyes. Fortunately the narrators are nicely differentiated. I loved Gabriel Betteredge, the indispensable steward to the Verinder family, a man of firm opinions who was nonetheless a model servant, who believed that all of the answers to life’s problems lay in the pages Robinson Crusoe. But I heartily disliked Miss Clack, a pious, sanctimonious cousin, blind to the feelings and concerns of others, but insistent that they must read her tracts. And I was fascinated by Ezra Jennings, a doctor who had been dragged down by his addiction to opium, but who was grateful for the chances he had been given and ready to play his part in uncovering the truth. And there were others; every voice, every character, was utterly believable.

Even more interesting than the narrators though were two women, at opposite ends of the social spectrum, who both chose not to speak out. Rosanna Spearman was a servant, and though I had reasons to doubt her, I could see that she was troubled and I feared for her. I nearly dismissed Rachel Verinder, as a spoilt madam, but in time I came to see that I had misjudged and underestimated with her.

The atmosphere was everything I could have hoped for, and the settings were wonderfully created. I especially loved the scenes set out on the treacherous ‘Shivering Sands’. And the story twisted and turned, and sprang surprises, very effectively. I remembered that broad sweep of the story from the first time I read ‘The Moonstone’, many years ago, but I had forgotten just how events played out, but even when I remembered it didn’t matter. Wilkie Collins was such a wonderful, clever storyteller that I was captivated, from the first page to an afterword that was absolutely perfect.

I loved almost everything, but I do have to say that the story is a little uneven, and that no character is as memorable as Marion Halcombe and Count Fosco in ‘The Women and White.’ But then, few characters are.

This is a very different pleasure. maybe a more subtle pleasure. And definitely a rattling good yarn! ( )
1 vote BeyondEdenRock | May 11, 2016 |
I ended up finishing this novel rather quickly - it's an early detective novel and though it had a bit of a slow start, I did really get drawn into it and at some point just had to go on reading because I wanted to know what happened.

In the novel a young girl, Rachel, receives a precious gem known as the Moonstone through an inheritance. The stone is said to be an ancient hindoo religious artifact, looked for by hindoo brahmins who will stop at nothing to retrieve it. While she and her family are still debating what to do with the gem, it gets stolen... After the disappearance a famous detective is called in to try to retrieve it, but he is led astray and the gem remains undiscovered until a year later, when the investigation is restarted and some unexpected findings lead to a startling conclusion.

Collins lets several of the main characters in the novel tell separate parts of the story, each person telling the part in which he/she was most involved. I like the way he gives each character a voice of his/her own and uses the stories to tell the different parts and to show different perspectives - at different points in time characters may or may not be aware of specific facts, making it an interesting intrigue to follow. I did feel that in his characterization of the main characters Collins is sometimes a bit over-the-top, but this also added an element of humor, so it wasn't very disturbing.
The fharacter of Sergeant Cuff is a bit of a proto-Holmes - an eccentric detective with a love of roses and a tendency to spend long periods musing over the facts, but who also follows concrete clues to get to the truth. Though his investigations lead him to the wrong conclusion, this is not altogether surprising, since the final solution is not what you expected.
Though I did have a suspicion of the right perpetrator at some point half way through, it long remained unclear how he could have pulled it off and what happened exactly on the night of the robbery. Collins really keeps you guessing, but brings everything to a nice ending in which everything is explained. ( )
1 vote Britt84 | Apr 30, 2016 |
Called "the first and greatest of English detective novels" by T.S.Eliot, The Moonstone is a masterpiece of suspense. A fabulous yellow diamond becomes the dangerous inheritance of Rachel Verinder. Outside her Yorkshire country house watch the Hindu priests who have waited for many years to reclaim their ancient talisman, looted from the holy city of Somnauth. When the Moonstone disappears the case looks simple, but in mid-Victorian England no one is what they seem, and nothing can be taken for granted.
Witnesses, suspects, and detectives each narrate the story in turn. The bemused butler, the love-stricken housemaid, the enigmatic detective Sergeant Cuff, the drug-addicted scientist--each speculate on the mystery ( )
1 vote | bpascoe | Apr 16, 2016 |
4 1/2 stars. I've had The Moonstone for years, but never read it - now that I have, I have to ask myself: what took me so long?? I greatly enjoyed it! The multiple narrators was an interesting style, and worked very well for a mystery. And Collins weaves a lot of character development into each narration, with each having a unique voice and perspective (and biases). A few slight quibbles - the first narrative (Betteredge) was very very long and somewhat dry - that start may have been what put me off reading it originally. But overall, a great read! ( )
1 vote Booklover889 | Feb 25, 2016 |
I had to abandon this at least 2/3 of the way through. I was listening to a Librivox recording and the third narrator, Christine?, killed it for me. Her English is so heavily accented to the American ear that I could hardly follow it anymore. This also occurred at a major transition point in the novel and I just couldn't get there when it slowed to a sanil's pace. Oh well. ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (115 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Collins, Wilkieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Laurora, HoracioTranslatormain authorsome 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
Maine, G. F.General editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nayder, LillianAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stewart, J. I. M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnEditorsecondary 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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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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17 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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