Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Review:- Wilkie COLLINS – “The Moonstone”

Year Published: - 1868
Where the book was from:- My own copy
ISBN: - 978-1-85326-044-5
Pages: - 438pp
Genre: - Crime
Location:- England
How I came across it: - Reading Victorian literature
Rating: - ***** *****

One sentence summary:- Sometimes described as ‘the first ever modern detective story’ the plot concerns the search by the phlegmatic Sergeant Cuff for a missing diamond – the Moonstone.

Describe the plot without giving anything away:-
The Moonstone is a priceless Indian diamond, stolen from its rightful place in an Indian temple and brought to England where it is given to Rachel Verrinder on her eighteenth birthday. Promptly stolen, the suspects include Rachel’s cousin Franklin Blake, a troupe of Indian jugglers, a housemaid, and even Rachel herself. Sergeant Cuff is called in and with the help of Betteridge the elderly household steward the mystery is finally solved.

General comments:-
Mum always recommended this as a ‘good read’ and yet it is only with my search to understand Victorian literature that I have finally picked it up and read it. I was suitably rewarded. It is an excellent read and the plot transcends time.


There’s a bottom of good sense, Mr Franklin, in our conduct to our mothers, when they first start us on the journey of life. We are all of us more or less unwilling to be brought into the world. And we are all of us right.

What more could I possibly want to make me happy? Remember what Adam wanted when he was alone in the Garden of Eden; and if you don’t blame it on Adam, don’t blame it on me.

On hearing these dreadful words, my daughter Penelope said she didn’t know what prevented her heart from flying straight out of her. I thought privately that it might have been her stays.

The upshot of it was, that Rosanna Spearman had been a thief, and not being of the sort that get up Companies in the City, and rob from thousands, instead of only robbing from one, the law laid hold of her, and the prison and the reformatory followed the lead of the law.

Many men, many opinions, as one of the ancients said before my time.

A young lady’s tongue is a privileged member…

Her mouth and chin were (to quote Mr Franklin) morsels for the gods; and her complexion (on the same undeniable authority) was as warm as the sun itself, with this great advantage over the sun, that it was always in nice order to look at

…when they jumped from their saddles (without waiting to be helped), I declare they bounced on the ground as if they were made of india-rubber. Everything the Miss Ablewhites said began with a large ‘O’; everything they did was done with a bang; and they giggled and screamed, in season and out of season, on the smallest provocation. Bouncers – that’s what I call them.

A drop of tea is to a woman’s tongue what a drop of oil is to a wasting lamp.
People in high life have all the luxuries to themselves – among others, the luxury of indulging their feelings. People in low life have no such privilege. Necessity, which spares our betters, has no pity on us. We learn to put our feelings back into ourselves, and to jog on with our duties as patiently as possible

Let you faith be as your stockings, and your stockings as your faith. Both ever spotless, and both ready to be put on at a moment’s notice!

AUTHOR Notes:- Wilkie Collins (8 January 1824 – 23 September 1889) was a London-born, English novelist, playwright, and author of short stories. He was very popular during the Victorian era and wrote 30 novels, more than 60 short stories, 14 plays, and over 100 non-fiction pieces. His best-known works are The Woman in White, The Moonstone, Armadale and No Name.

Collins predicted the deterrence concept of mutually assured destruction that defined the Cold War nuclear era. Writing at the time of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 he stated, "I begin to believe in only one civilising influence - the discovery one of these days of a destructive agent so terrible that War shall mean annihilation and men's fears will force them to keep the peace."

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