Monday, 14 June 2010

The Moonstone

Title: The Moonstone

Author: Wilkie Collins

Number of pages:

Started: 30 May 2010

Finished: 12 June 2010

Opening words:

Extracted from a Family Paper

I address these lines — written in India — to my relatives in England.

My object is to explain the motive which has induced me to refuse the right hand of friendship to my cousin, John Herncastle. The reserve which I have hitherto maintained in this matter has been misinterpreted by members of my family whose good opinion I cannot consent to forfeit. I request them to suspend their decision until they have read my narrative. And I declare, on my word of honour, that what I am now about to write is, strictly and literally, the truth.

The private difference between my cousin and me took its rise in a great public event in which we were both concerned—the storming of Seringapatam, under General Baird, on the 4th of May, 1799.

In order that the circumstances may be clearly understood, I must revert for a moment to the period before the assault, and to the stories current in our camp of the treasure in jewels and gold stored up in the Palace of Seringapatam.

Read the book here or get it sent to you in 283 parts here.

Plot summary:

On her eighteenth birthday, beautiful Rachel Verinder receives a present like no other—an enormous, glittering, diamond. Little does she know that this legendary stone will bring with it a world of mystery and danger. Snatched from a sacred statue in India, the diamond is the subject of an intense worldwide search by priests whose ultimate duty is to find and restore the stone to its rightful place. The stone seems to hold strange powers beyond mere beauty, perhaps even a curse that travels with it. The sparkling Moonstone belongs to Rachel for one night only before it is stolen in the night, but a storm of grief, misfortune, and even madness follow in its wake. Who has taken the precious gem? Can the stone be found and returned to its rightful owners in time to stop the mysterious forces that threaten to tear apart Rachel's life and happiness?

What I thought:

When I first opened this book, one of the first things I read was a reference to Robinson Crusoe (it’s referred to at the start of the first chapter, which is after the prologue above). So I decided to put down this book and read Robinson Crusoe first. I like the interconnectedness of books and I often find themes echoed in entirely different styles of books or things or other books referred to. I like to keep an eye out for such things because it is interesting to see how books and ideas are so often linked.

Anyway, I put off reading The Moonstone to read Robinson Crusoe, a book I did not much enjoy. The Moonstone seemed to start a bit slowly, mainly because I was not the biggest fan of the initial narrator, who himself was a big fan of Robinson Crusoe. However, as the story unfolded, I found the book to be much better and more engaging than I had first thought. There were passages that kept me totally engaged and many a stop passed on the tube (where I do most of my reading) without me even being aware of them.

It was a great read, despite what seemed to me to be an unpromising start. I have mixed feelings about Wilkie Collins books – I loved The Woman in White but loathed Armadale. Despite my nervousness at reading this book, it came up trumps and has restored my faith in the author – who I am sure will rest much easier as a result…


Sarah said...

I have Armadale on my shelf, unread... but No Name is my favourite so far. It seems rather ironic that you went off to read Robinson Crusoe first, didn't enjoy it that much, and then have to put up with the references to it!

But happy for you that you found Wilkie Collins back on form :)

Random Reflections said...

Sarah - I think that is the best place for Armadale. I might give No Name a go at some point though.

Robinson Crusoe was a painful diversion, but fortunately didn't prevent me from reading The Moonstone.