Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reading in Retrospect: "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins

Hear ye, hear ye! I am fighting my way out of this blogging slump that feels like it has lasted decades. Just thought I would officially announce that.

So, The Moonstone. I read it more than a year ago. Lucky for me and my literary amnesia, I jotted a few notes as I read. AND I was smart enough to keep those notes tucked in the front cover of the book where I would be sure to find them again, along with evidence of this copy's origins: it was sent to me by Trisha at eclectic/eccentric. Unfortunately I can't remember the circumstances (maybe she had a giveaway and I won it? Maybe she was being generous in getting rid of excess reading material?) but no matter the occasion, I'm always appreciative when I'm the recipient of a free book.

Especially when the free book doesn't suck! The Moonstone is a good solid read, even at the ripe old age of 144. There are many who would award it with the title of "First Detective Novel Written in English," and it ranked high on my Agatha Christie scale. It's got secretive servants, honorable heiresses, dying dowagers, discerning detectives, and genial gentlemen, all in search of a damned diamond--or so it seems. There are some who may be more concerned with hiding than with seeking, and all the fun is in discovering the truth of the matter.

So it was a good read. But wouldn't you love to hear my criticisms? (You knew I would have some, didn't you?) My main complaint is that the solution to the mystery seemed less clever than contrived, making it difficult for me to sufficiently suspend my disbelief. On a brighter note, at least the solution was a mystery to me. I couldn't guess what the answer might be until it was spelled out. Which would have been perfect, if the answer hadn't been a disappointment.

Shall I go on? Betteredge and Clack were really well-developed characters; the others, not so much. Even Clack was somewhat of a caricature--I don't think I would have found her believable, except that I know people just like her! People who would say (or at least think) things like this:
"The true Christian never yields . . . we go on with our work, irrespective of every human consideration which moves the world outside us. We are above reason; we are beyond ridicule; we see with nobody's eyes, we hear with nobody's ears, we feel with nobody's hearts, but our own . . . we are the only people who are always right."
Looks like my complaints list was brief, and not too harsh. And this is obviously not because I'm afraid Wilkie Collins will read my blog post and be offended by it. I may not be labeling this as a Must Read, and I may never re-read it, but I enjoyed the experience the first time around--probably even more than I enjoyed The Woman in White. As those two are generally considered Collins' two finest works, he and I may never meet again, but it was fun while it lasted.


Kate said...

Happy to see you in my google reader, Kathy! :)

Kathy said...

Thank you!!