The third novel I read for R. I. P. was The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. He’s an English playwright and writer who wrote during the Victorian era and completed 30 novels, over 60 short stories, and 14 plays. One of his good friends was Charles Dickens. William Wilkie Collins grew up in London. His father, William Collins was a famous landscape artist. During his childhood, Wilkie attended Mr. Cole’s private boarding school. He was bullied by one of the boys who insisted that Collins tell him a story each night. The author credits this bully with awaking his desire to tell stories. I’m not a fan of bullies, but at least this situation had a happy outcome for Collins and for all of his fans. But if any bullies are reading this, stop being a bully. It’s mean and despicable.
Sorry, back to my post. The Moonstone relates the story of an Indian diamond, which had been confiscated by an Englishman during a war in India. He stole the stone from the forehead of a Hindu god, and smuggled it into England. It was believed that Vishnu ordered the diamond to be protected by hereditary guardians. The priceless diamond turns out to be a curse. On her eighteenth birthday, Rachel Verinder is to inherit the moonstone from her uncle. The same night that she receives it, the moonstone disappears. Earlier in the day, three Indians were seen on the Verinder property. Did they steal it? Did someone in the house? What about one of the housemaids who has a history of theft? The famous Sergeant Cuff is called in to investigate and suspicion falls on the housemaid, but did she really do it.
This epistolary novel is thought to be the first detective novel in the English world. It first appeared in serialized form in the magazine All the Year Round, published by Charles Dickens. Many consider this novel as the precursor to mystery novels. Dorothy L. Sayers said it was “probably the very finest detective story ever written.” That is quite a compliment. A part of me wants to play devil’s advocate and disagree. But I can’t. I loved this novel. It was fun to read and to speculate who did what. As it turns out, many of the guests, invited and uninvited, to Rachel’s birthday party had motive to take the diamond. And many of them are hiding something. As the mystery unraveled I was not disappointed. At times I could not read fast enough. If you’re a fan of Victorian writing and mystery novels I would highly recommend this novel.
The Moonstone is on my 1001 books you must read before you die and it counts towards R. I. P.
It’s years since I read this book and now I want to read it again. Thank you for reminding me of it, I’m going to try and find it in the library next time I’m there.
This was my first Collins book and I’m impressed with his writings. And I had no idea he wrote so much during his lifetime. I hope you can find a copy. Good luck at the Fayre!
I just downloaded a copy of this because it’s one of the classics and was free… I didn’t know the story, but I’m looking forwar to reading it now 🙂 Thanks for the review!
I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think and happy reading!
I tried to comment but my connection failed, so here’s hoping it lasts now.
I prefer Wilkie Collins to Dickens. He seems to have more humour, less omniscient author presence, so that the twists and turns of the plots are much more immediate and exciting. Sarah Waters’ Victorian novels have a strong whiff of Collins. I believe she has been influenced by his writing style. I didn’t know the bullying story. Interesting. Thanks.
I just returned from the library with a copy of Fingersmith. I’ll have to read more Collins and Waters to compare their writing. The next time you run into Waters can you ask if she was influenced more by Dickens or Collins 😉
I very much like Wilkie Collins and of course loved both the woman in white and the moonstone. I think is so amazing that these books just keep getting new followers all the time (guess that’s why they are classics huh? lol).. I also enjoyed Fingersmith I think I read it a year or so ago.
I think the Woman in White will be my next Collins novel. I’m surprised I hadn’t haven’t heard of him before last year, and yet he was quite prolific during his lifetime. I’m super excited to start Fingersmith. I really enjoyed Tipping the Velvet.
I agree, this book is hard to put down once you start. A friend of mine loves this author so much, she named her cat Wilkie!
Wilkie–that’s a cute name for a cat. I’m finding many people love him and I’m starting to see why.
Wilkie Collins is one of the writers I’m always trying to force on other people because he’s nowhere near as well-known (and therefore loved) as he deserves to be. Although I enjoyed the Moonstone, The Woman in White is definitely my favourite of his works; Count Fosco is one of my favourite literary characters of all-time.
It is a shame he isn’t as popular as say Dickens. They knew each other and were friends, but Dickens is famous and Collins, at least in my world, isn’t. Must get Woman in white soon!
You’re on a roll at the moment with these books. Wilkie Collins is brilliant – definitely read The Woman in White next – it’s brilliant.
I hope to buy a copy when I pop into a bookstore…knowing me, that won’t be long from now, but don’t tell!
It´s been years since I read this – thanks for a great review and for reminding me!
What a coincidence. My best friend just told me I HAVE to read Woman in White. Had never heard of this book before, but it sounds wonderful too. Fascinating about the bullying story.
I read this historical fiction about Dickens life (I wish I could remember the author or title). It was my first audio book – really long and I am glad i read it. The book is told from Collin’s point of view about Dickens and this mysterious person or creature haunting the man. Ever since that book, I thought I should try some Collins and your review encourages me further.
I’ve read this years ago but will read The Woman in White next before I re-read it.
The bullying story is one of the more unusual stories about becoming a writer.
I found a free copy on iBooks and just downloaded. The history about it potentially being the first detective novel in the English world is interesting.
Thanks for the review!
I love this book! I’ve got a very old and worn copy with no front cover (I’ve only read it once, so it wasn’t me!) and have been thinking of buying a new and pretty copy as pages are starting to fall out!
If you liked this, you really have to try The Woman in White as well. It’s the perfect Autumn read.