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The Moonstone – Book Review

As the first detective novel in the English language (and my first Wilkie Collins book), I wasn’t blown away by The Moonstone. The mystery surrounding who stole the diamond was certainly a compelling plot that kept me turning pages, but as many others have observed it was the drama involving the main characters that seemed to be the focus of the story. At first, I found this annoying because I didn’t care about anyone or what happened to them. However, as the plot slowly (and I mean slowly) progressed, I became attached to a few characters, especially Franklin Blake, and was satisfied with the book’s ending.

Since The Moonstone was written in the epistolary format, I knew it would be a series of letters and journals by different authors. Gabriel Betteredge’s narrative was so funny and charming right off the bat, I didn’t want anyone else to tell the story. But unlike Dracula which I had read not too long before this book, The Moonstone’s narrators were different in tone and style, and made the story richer and more interesting than if it had been narrated by one character. Mr. Betteredge remains my favourite narrator with the exception of the overkill on the Robinson Crusoe schtick. I agree with Laura from Reading in Bed that I could easily read a whole book narrated by Miss Clack. I was also surprised that Rachel Verinder wasn’t a narrator.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Moonstone because it had a gripping mystery and several narrators to keep me interested in the story. Looking at the impressive list of literary elements that would become fundamental to the mystery genre, I believe Wilkie Collins deserves a lot of recognition for crafting the first detective novel. However, it is probably the only thing significant enough about The Moonstone that would make me recommend this book.

* * * *

And now I will cast the narrators of the book. Who would you cast as your favourite character?

stephenfry

Sergeant Cuff played by Stephen Fry – Ever since he strolled in the garden and began complaining about the roses, I couldn’t get the ever lovable and funny actor out of my head. I think he would be perfect as the sharp and unwavering Sergeant.

dannypudi

Ezra Jennings played by Danny Pudi – No one else could better understand what it’s like to be looked on suspiciously (and even by your own friends!) than Abed from Community.

brendan coyle

Mr Bruff played by Brendan Coyle – Who better to play the no nonsense lawyer (with the soft spot for Miss Verinder) than Downton Abbey’s own no nonsense butler.

paulwesley

Franklin Blake played by Paul Wesley – Good guy Stefan Salvatore from the Vampire Diaries can’t seem to help attracting drama in his life (especially with the ladies) and so is the case with our Moonstone hero.

aliciaDrusilla Clack played by Alicia Silverstone – Our beloved Cher from Clueless has the save-every-soul passion (and inward snark) like holier than thou, Miss Clack.

goughGabriel Betteredge played by Michael Gough – Mr. Gough appeared in five Batman movies before usurped by some guy named Michael Caine. He immediately came to mind from page one of Mr. Betteredge’s narrative.

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17 comments on “The Moonstone – Book Review

  1. heavenali
    December 9, 2013

    I love The Moonstone, and have read it twice. Gabriel Betteridge was my favourite narrator too.

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    • ebookclassics
      December 10, 2013

      Have you read the Woman in White? I haven’t read it yet, but it seems everyone really likes it and consider it better than The Moonstone.

      Like

      • heavenali
        December 10, 2013

        I have a long time ago. Was considering re-reading it in January.

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        • ebookclassics
          December 10, 2013

          Look forward to reading your thoughts if you do re-read the book.

          Like

  2. Riv @ Bookish Realm
    December 9, 2013

    Betteredge and Clack were easily the best part for me about this book. It’s true that diamond theft did not get the kind of focus that it deserved, but as you also point out, the genre of detective novel was definitely in its maturity yet, so I didn’t even have that high expectations in this regard.

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    • ebookclassics
      December 10, 2013

      As the first ever detective novel, the number of classic mystery elements in The Moonstone was pretty impressive. I don’t read mysteries, but I never would have thought how interesting solving a crime could be if you presented different perspectives from the characters.

      Like

  3. Mabel
    December 9, 2013

    I thought Dickens wrote the first detective novel (Bleak House)? I’ve not read The Moonstone or Bleak House, but I’ve heard the credit actually goes to Dickens…

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    • ebookclassics
      December 10, 2013

      The Moonstone page on Wikipedia says the book is viewed as the first detective novel, but there may have been other books before it. I haven’t read Bleak House either, but I read that Dickens and Collins were buddies, so maybe they inspired each other.

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  4. Juliana @ Epilogues
    December 9, 2013

    Beautiful casting! Love all your choices, especially for Ezra Jennings. Poor guy was severely underrated.

    Glad you didn’t give up on it! I share all of your feelings about this one. Particularly the “slowly” part. I do agree with what you said in comparison to Dracula, too — Wilkie’s narrators definitely sounded very different from one another, whereas the ones in Dracula all sounded pretty similar. I hadn’t thought of that, but I definitely agree!

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    • ebookclassics
      December 10, 2013

      Who was your favourite character in the book? I felt that Wilkie Collins probably could have cut some of the repetitiveness out of a few chapters, but the book was originally serialized so that may explain why the story takes so long to get to the point. The book was slow, but good when the action started.

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      • Juliana @ Epilogues
        December 10, 2013

        Yes, that definitely explains it! And some of the repetitiveness might have been like “recaps” of earlier episodes.

        I think when I started reading Franklin Blake was my favorite, but by the time it all ended it might have been Ezra Jennings or maybe Sargeant Cuff. I didn’t really love anybody to pieces, but those guys were all right.

        Was yours Franklin?

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        • ebookclassics
          December 10, 2013

          I think Gabriel Betteredge was my favourite character and then Franklin Blake was next (although I wasn’t impressed that Lady Verinder had to pay his debt). I also liked Sergeant Cuff because I found his mannerisms amusing.

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          • Juliana @ Epilogues
            December 11, 2013

            Oh jeez, forgot about Betteredge! He was great.

            Like

  5. DoingDewey
    December 11, 2013

    How cool! Even if this isn’t the most amazing book ever, I think it could be worth reading just for the history 🙂

    Like

  6. lauratfrey
    December 13, 2013

    OMG yes Cher as Drusilla! I can just hear her squealing “PROJECT!”

    Like

  7. Ellie Baggley
    December 19, 2013

    I’m glad you enjoyed the book – the epistolary form definitely makes it all the more entertaining.

    I cannot fault any of your casting choices. Stephen Fry would make the most amazing Cuff!

    Thank you for joining in with the readalong 🙂

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      December 21, 2013

      Thanks for hosting the read-a-long! I had a lot of fun reading the book and everyone’s blog posts. I especially learned so much about Wilkie from your blog. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to read The Woman in White soon.

      Like

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