Title: The Moonstone
Author: Wilkie Collins
Number of pages: 528
Publication date: 1868
A stolen Indian diamond, sneak into London from a military that took it from the statue of a God in its temple, 3 Brahmans who swear protection of the gem and that are willing to risk everything (even dishonour) to recover their precious gem, an incredible thief, an intelligent detective in charge of the solving of the crime, and the 19th century countryside and London as the background of the story.
As maybe some of you might have guess, I have started the summer challenge with “The Moonstone” of Wilkie Collins. This great English novel from the 19th century it is also known as the first detective novel written in English, so it was a must in my reading list.
His author, Wilkie Collins, was considered the precursor of the mystery and suspense novel, introducing the elements that after would characterize this genre (an intelligent detective in charge to solve the crime, the reconstruction of the crime, a mystery in a close room, suspicion upon the person least possible, a surprising turn in the story, etc). The novel was a complete success in the time it was published, by the time delivered in bundles.
It is a hallmark from this author to write his stories using the technique known as “multi-narration” which means the story is narrated through the point of view of several characters. This method of writing was also used in his other great novel “The woman in white”, which I sincerely recommend. This multi-narration technique follows this rule: the character is only allowed to tell the story he or she has witnessed with no addition possible to the narrative.
Through this shifting in the person telling the story you can get a pretty good idea about the personality of the different characters, through the eyes of the narrators, and about the timeline of the story. There are 8 narrators in the novel:
· Gabriel Batteredge: the old and loyal servant who has served the family for more than 50 years. He demonstrates very strong and conservative opinions, some of them even a little sexist. He includes lots of additional details not directly correlated with the story, like for example what was the job that he needed to perform a concrete time.
· Miss Clack: the poor cousin of the family, very religious and conservative. As she states in several parts of her narration, she is obeying the wishes of Mr. Franklin Blake (who wants to write down the story of the diamond) in exchange of some money. She has high moral standards which shows whenever she thinks someone is not acting correctly. She writes in a way that tries to make you feel sorry for her, her situation and the way people around her treat her. In the end, she doesn´t succeed very much.
· Mr. Buff: the lawyer and family friend. In difference from the previous narrators he writes more formal and straight to the point. No detail unnecessary appears in his narration. Seems like as his professional has showed him: time is money and he doesn´t want to waste it.
· Mr. Franklin Blake: he is the instigator to the other narrator to write the story. Most of them, write it because they like the family, other (Miss Clack) do it for the money. The
story touches him very closely and personally, so you can see that he lets his feelings and opinions show.
· Mr. Ezra Jennings: the medical assistant, friendless and hopeless to live without anyone close. He let you know that due to something that happened a long time ago he deserves to be alone, but he actually doesn´t give you more details, which I find a bit annoying, because I liked this character.
· Sargent Cuff: the great and famous detective call from Scotland Yard to solve the thief of the Moonstone. You really get to know him when the first narrator (Gabriel Batteredge) writes about him and his obsession with roses. He tells the story like he is writing a police report.
A difference from other detective novels from nowadays is that in this case the story doesn´t evolves around the figure of the detective and his investigation. Quite the contrary, it revolves around the family whose diamond was stolen. In this sense you can observe how at some point of the story the detective leaves, and the narrative continues, in an agile way. Another point that it is worth mentioned is the fact that the social differences are patent: the detective is not allowed to push the aristocracy (Miss Verinder and the rest of the family) into an interrogation or pursue with the investigation further if Lady Verinder doesn´t allowed it.
In all it is a great novel to read and I strongly recommend it.
This is my opinion but I would like to know yours!
Hope you enjoy it 🙂