Friday, October 9, 2009

Delving Into the Classics: "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins

After a very long time, I found myself in the mood for a good ole' British mystery novel. Having read Agatha Christie's novels in the past repeatedly, I was on the hunt for something different this time around. Enter Mr. Collins with what was apparently one of the first detective/mystery novels written in the English language.

To begin,
The Moonstone is a story about the mysterious disappearance of an Indian diamond in colonial England. The story is told through the narratives of a number of different characters who witness events that lead to solving the crime. Each chapter works to further the plot in a different manner, and there are multiple stories within the larger story, and all of them are interesting. There are a number of red herrings, and an intensely satisfying explanation to all occurrences at the end.

The plot moves fairly quickly although the time elapsed in the book itself isn't quite as fast, due mainly to the fact that the novel takes place in the late 1840's. Reading the novel reminded me strangely enough of just how fast we move from place to place, idea to idea in this day and age.

The writing isn't super complicated or dense. At the same time, each narrator of the story comes across exceptionally well. You really get a feel for the personality, and cognitive process behind each narrator. It's fantastic stuff!

One of my favourite characters in the novel is Gabriel Betteredge. His narrative takes up most of the novel, and for a good reason too. I will never hear of
The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe without thinking of him. To find out why, read the book!

And without further ado, here are my recommendations for readers. Enjoy!

The Moonstone is for people:

  • who are looking for a jolly old English whodunit
  • who are looking for a mystery set in the English countryside
  • enjoyed reading Jane Austen
  • who think they'd like to see what would happen if Jane Austen was crossed with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Moonstone is not for people:
  • who are looking for intense, fast-paced thrillers
  • who don't enjoy reading about colonial England or cultural misappropriation
  • who can't fathom reading older English works

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