Friday, March 20, 2009

The Moonstone

by Wilkie Collins

Legend has it that the moonstone was stolen from the statue of a Hindu god, and that three guards have dedicated their lives to recovering the moonstone. When, through a series of events, the moonstone ends up as Rachel Verinder's birthday present, she is ecstatic. Unfortunately, within 12 hours of her receiving the gift the moonstone disappears, seemingly without a trace.

This novel was first published in 1868, but it feels very readable. Dickens published not too much earlier than Collins, but his works take a lot more effort for me to read. I loved that aspect of this book.

I can't quite decide if I liked the fact that the narrator changed for each piece of the story. I really prefer to stick with one character for the majority of a book, but I for the most part I enjoyed the different narrators, so I think I will lean towards liking it.

The first narrator, Gabriel Betteredge, is a grouchy old man who I found rather hilarious. I've read other reviews that hate how sexist he is (and he definitely is!), but I mostly just laughed and read the really bad passages to my husband. The second narrator, Miss Clack, reminded me so much of someone I knew in high school that it was both hilarious and disturbing. She was constantly trying to convert her heathen relatives, and her "humility" truly added to her character. A lot of her passages were also read aloud to my husband. The rest of the narrators didn't have the same dramatic flair that the first two had, but I enjoyed reading their sections more.

I don't really feel like this was a great detective novel. There is a detective (Sergeant Cuff), but he is only present for the first part of the story, and while he makes some correct predictions and presumptions that's as far as it goes. He doesn't really solve the mystery because he isn't around to solve it. The book however is a pretty good mystery. While I figured out the who fairly early on, I really had no idea the how until it was pretty much spelled out for me.

An enjoyable read. 3.5 out of 5 stars

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