#onthebookshelf The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins 1886.

Another book on my reading list for third year and another that was enjoyed round the pool in Morocco.

This one was a hard one to get into, but I’m very glad I persevered, although it’s not like I had a choice since it was on my primary reading list for my Victorian Popular fiction module.

This was a classic whodunnit novel with every aspect of Victoriana jumbled in to create a crime caper with comedy, ridicule, real drama, tragedy and a little dash of oriental-ism too.

Interestingly, the 1868 novel is considered to be the first British detective novel of it’s kind. Although it’s a crime novel, with the main aim of  story to discover who stole the cursed yellow diamond named the Moonstone, from the helpless heroine Miss Verinder, there are many aspects to the novel which makes it note worthy.  For example, it is an epistolary novel; is written from many different cross sections of class and set out many of the great traditions of the detective novel- at least in the form we recognise today.

As I was reading, I have to admit, though I started out with the best of intentions, my English Literature head firmly screwed on ready to analyze the power relationships etc etc of the novel, I became enthralled with the suspense and surprise of who had stolen the diamond. at times, it was excruciatingly slow but it was worth it. The result was satisfying and deliciously unexpected.  I outwardly gasped at the revelation of the criminal! Highly recommended.

Another important feature of the novel is Collin’s attitude to slaves, Indians and servants and also his sensationalist depiction of opium usage.  Unbeknownst to readers at the time, Collin’s haunting depictions of laudanum abuse was written from his own experience, which makes the descriptions all the more harrowing.

Overall excellent read.  If you like Sherlock Holmes, this is for you.  In fact, the detective of the novel- Sergeant Cuff- is quite evidently a blueprint for the famous detective himself.  the parallels you can draw are easy to pick out form the outset.

Don’t be put off by the constant babbling butler at the beginning and his unexplained obsession with Robinson  Crusoe.

You will not believe who stole it. Honest.

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