Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Moonstone

It took me a while to get into The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. I started reading it for two reasons, the first of which was that last year I read another novel of his, The Woman In White, which is pretty good; the second reason was that I had recently read somewhere that The Moonstone is thought of as being one of the first detective stories - possibly the first. Since I've grown very attached to reading mystery and noir stories over the last year it seemed like a good book to read.

It starts off quite slowly really, and for a while I was worried that I had mis-read the review ("It's the first detective story... but not that good..."), however before I was a quarter of the way through I was totally hooked. What's great about it is that it totally gives you the feeling of being a participant or a close friend of those involved; it is told in the form of various journals and records of events as they happened and just like the characters in the story, one develops theories as to what has happened to the titular diamond - and time after time that theory is shown to be wrong (the true circumstances of the disappearance of the Moonstone are brilliant, and very imaginative).

The characters themselves are always well-written: some of them are not very likable people, but they are all three-dimensional, they all stand out from the page. Collins gives such life to them, especially to Gabriel Betteredge (a devoted manservant) and to the outcast Ezra Jennings - who gives one of the shorter contributions to the tale but leaves one of the biggest impressions in my opinion.

I don't do marks out of ten or anything like that, but if you are looking for a good book to while away the time as you sun yourself on a beach this summer, or to pass the time on the train or in the evenings then you will be hard pressed to find a better companion than The Moonstone.


Bethany said...

Another excellent review! People really should pay you for this! I enjoyed the Woman in White - I will give this one a try.

zero_zero_one said...

People really should pay you for this

From next week I'll be putting a tip jar at the top of the page ;)

I was given The Woman In White as a birthday present a year ago, and didn't think it would be my cup of tea at all; when I read it I really enjoyed it, and as a result I started to read a lot more classic literature. If you liked The Woman In White I think you will like The Moonstone :)