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115 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The first, the longest, and the best..." - T S Eliot.
It was T S Eliot who described Wilkie Collins' "The Moonstone" as "the first, the longest, and the best of Modern English detective novels". Not everybody might agree with this, but all practitioners, readers, and fans of detective fiction will find much to admire and enjoy in this magnificent 1868 publication.
Although not exactly the first example of detection...
Published on 30 Oct 2002 by John Austin

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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointed...
I loved 'The Woman in White' by Wilkie Collins. The detective story, the intrigue, the mystery and suspense, all culminated in making a wonderful novel with a brilliant climax. So I was excited to read 'The Moonstone', which promised much of the same. Unfortunately 'The Moonstone' is NOT 'The Woman in White'. Instead what 'The Moonstone' is, is l-o-n-g and drawn out,...
Published on 31 Oct 2010 by madaboutbooks


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115 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The first, the longest, and the best..." - T S Eliot., 30 Oct 2002
By 
John Austin "austinjr@bigpond.net.au" (Kangaroo Ground, Australia) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
It was T S Eliot who described Wilkie Collins' "The Moonstone" as "the first, the longest, and the best of Modern English detective novels". Not everybody might agree with this, but all practitioners, readers, and fans of detective fiction will find much to admire and enjoy in this magnificent 1868 publication.
Although not exactly the first example of detection novels, it provides the archetypal sleuth, Sergeant Cuff, an astute though idiosyncratic detective who leads the chase to the solution of the mystery, easily surpassing the dim-witted local police authorities. It also explores the full potential of the whodunit formula.
Arguably, it is still the longest example of detective fiction. Unlike most other serialized novels of its era, this one is meticulously plotted. You'll find red herrings, suspense, the unexpected, climaxes that overwhelm or fizzle out, and a satisfying denouement. It is narrated largely by some of the principal characters. All are revealed in well-rounded perspective while carrying forward the story line. The most popular has always been Drusilla Clack, "that rampant spinster", a self-righteous tract-dispensing lady who likes to eavesdrop and to be judgmental.
Is it the best? I would unhesitatingly award it the prize, while welcoming other internet browsers to name other contenders.
Wealthy internet browsers are recommended to download the unabridged audio reading of the book. It is a novel that reads well, and the full length reading available is a model of its kind. Naxos has produced an abridged version. It has the benefit of multiple readers, but most of the charm and all the atmosphere seems to disappear in the abridgment process. Book format will put you in touch with the original text and, provided you have the leisure and disposition for tackling a 20 hour read, will provide your imagination, your mind and your literary appetite with rich material.
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81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic romp, 19 Jun 2001
By A Customer
I wish this book wasn't a "classic" because I was put off reading it for years thinking it would be stuffy. When I eventually overcame my preconceptions I discovered it's a madly entertaining romp that uses every Gothic cliche you could invent. A young beautiful heroine who's to inherit a fabulous Indian diamond bearing a curse, a party at a remote country house, the family's faithful old butler, the heroine's dashing cousin who no-one's seen for years, an ex-criminal servant girl with a sinister secret, quicksands, dodgy Indian jugglers (this is 150 years pre political correctness) with a clairvoyant servant-boy, a returning traveller who unmasks them as Brahmin priests determined to get the jewel back, an opium addict, murder and intrigue. So who did steal the diamond? It'll take you right till the end to find out in the most fantastic plot twist, and you'll be gripped all the way.
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeliness Masterpiece, 8 Dec 2002
I was enthralled from the beginning of the book, the fascinating history and "curse" of the Moonstone, as I continue to read on, it was almost impossible to put down the book. An enthralling combination of what makes a "bestseller" nowadays, a cursed gem, the oriental touch, a murder, a love story. The writing was excellent, the characters are vivid, and the progress through a series of narrative by the various characters adds to the suspense of the crime. The plot is also good, it is not easy to guess who stole the Moonstone, even though the book was written about 140 years ago. It won't disappoint you.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Packed full of dastardly adventures, hilarious characters and a mystery with a diamond at its heart, 28 Dec 2007
T S Eliot called The Moonstone "the first, the longest and the best of modern English detective novels". It's hard not to agree. The Moonstone, an enormous diamond of religious significance, is vilely plundered by a British soldier during the taking of Seringapatam in 1799. The Moonstone is brought back to England and, eventually, given to the prim, beautiful and wilful heiress, Rachel Verinder, on her birthday in 1848. And it goes missing the very same night. Rachel's family and friends are keen to recover the lost stone and to identify the thief and thus call upon the services of Sergeant Cuff, the most celebrated and successful detective that Scotland Yard can offer. Yet Rachel is strangely reluctant to assist in the investigation, and the professional sleuth is not the only one searching for the stone and for answers. Three juggling Indians accompanied by a clairvoyant young boy, a ruthless London money lender and an amiable philanthropist all seem to have their own interests in recovering the stone, while others including Rachel and a reformed thief turned servant girl, seem at least as anxious to conceal certain facts surrounding its disappearance. The stage is thus set for a gripping detective story full of twists and turns and unexpected developments, all centred on the Verinder's country house in Yorkshire.

Written in a semi- epistolary style, with several of the major characters telling the parts of the story with which they were most concerned from their own perspective, Collins' novel has strong gothic overtones and much in common with the `big-house' novels written earlier in the century and serves as a bridge with the swelter of English detective fiction which was to follow. It is long, but you hardly notice as Collins whisks his mystery from India to Yorkshire, to London, to Brighton and back to Yorkshire. Elegant prose reminiscent of yet lighter than Dickens encapsulates an enchanting mystery with magical, even fantastical overtones, and presents a series of warm, engaging, if somewhat stereotypical characters: who can forgot the admirable Gabriel Betteredge, with his mystic faith in the powers of Robinson Crusoe to provide answers to daily difficulties, or the misunderstood Erza Jennings, with his face so much older than his body and his two-tone hair?

A sheer delight to read, like some much detective fiction, it does not demand to be taken seriously, yet for the careful reader, there are on offer deeper strains of tension over class, over Empire, and over religious differences and good and evil, which one might more readily associate with the post-war literature of a cosmopolitan diaspora.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of crime fiction, 15 Nov 1999
A story about the theft of a diamond seems pretty tame stuff compared to the bloodthirsty standard of today, but the masterful craftsmanship of Wilkie Collins turns a seemingly mundane story into an exciting journey back to the 1840's.
The story is told through a seies of narratives relating to before, during and after the theft. One of my favourite narratives is that of Drusilla Clack, a devout christian who tries to convert anybody and everybody at any opportunity. The book is witty,often very moving and above all mysterious. It is a long story ( I estimate it at over 200,000 words ), but it is worth every word because of the atmospheric and skilful writing. I felt that I knew what it was like to live in England in the mid 1800's and my head was full of vivid pictures of the scenes described by Wilkie Collins.
Definitely one of the most readable and cleverly written books that I have ever read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A healthy dose of suspense, exotica and opium!, 9 April 2002
By A Customer
As a detective novel enthusiast, I'm embarrassed to say that I had never heard of Wilkie Collins before The Moonstone was mentioned at my reading club. Having read the book since, I can't wait to read everything ever written by this brilliant author.
The Moonstone is a fascinating novel, ostensibly inspired by several famous stones taken/stolen from India, including the Koh-i-Noor. The story begins with the theft of this large Indian diamond, the Moonstone, by a British soldier and follows the stone as it finds its way into and then out of, a peaceful country house in Yorkshire, England.
Interestingly, the story of the diamond, its disappearance and its recovery is told entirely in the form of narratives by various characters in the story. This is done with a view to "producing witnesses, rather than presenting reports". Not only does this style of writing do wonders for building up the suspense, but also adds an interesting human quirk to this classic whodunit.
If you do read this particular edition of the book, do not skip the introduction by Catherine Peters. She reveals some fascinating facts about Wilkie Collins and his writing of The Moonstone. Critically ill halfway into the story (which was appearing as a serial in Charles Dickens' magazine at that time) but determined not to leave his public in suspense, Collins completed the novel with the help of a devoted secretary (his daughter) and a healthy dose of opium! In fact, this reference to opium finds its way into the book, as do some of the other interesting facts relating to Collins' life.
The language of the book is a bit dated and its size a bit daunting, but I urge you to plod on. As said by T. S. Eliot, The Moonstone is "the first, the longest, and the best of the modern English detective novels".
PS - In case you found my review a bit long-winded, hey, I'm just preparing you for the book!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointed..., 31 Oct 2010
I loved 'The Woman in White' by Wilkie Collins. The detective story, the intrigue, the mystery and suspense, all culminated in making a wonderful novel with a brilliant climax. So I was excited to read 'The Moonstone', which promised much of the same. Unfortunately 'The Moonstone' is NOT 'The Woman in White'. Instead what 'The Moonstone' is, is l-o-n-g and drawn out, with fairly forgettable characters and an ending that left me feeling flat.

The plot - a beautiful precious stone, shrouded in mystery and believed to be cursed, goes missing at the house of Lady Verinder shortly after it is given to her daughter Rachel as an 18th birthday present - sounds intriguing and certainly sets things up for what should have been a brilliant detective story. But that's where it falls flat. Instead, pages are given over to the minutiae of people's everyday lives, and character assinations that seem to go on forever. The supposedly great Sergeant Cuff (a fictional character, but one of great literary merit) gets pretty much everything wrong and ends up looking like nothing more than an amateur detective. Instead it is left to Franklin Blake, the protagonist of the story, to discover what really happened and in so doing, clear his name. But Blake is not interesting and doesn't draw you in; he is flat and two-dimensional and it's hard to care what happens to a character if you feel no sympathy or connection with them.

This was a chore to read (hence the reason why it took me well over a month to finish) and a disappointment after The Woman in White. I can only assume that Collins' regular use of opium (incidentally a key substance throughout the novel) to relieve his gout, had a great deal to do with why this novel appears disconnected and never seems to pick up the pace. My advice - stick to Collins' earlier works, which are much more engaging and readable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic, warts and all - one of the foundations of crime fiction, 30 Aug 2011
By 
AK (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The Moonstone is one of the early (and probably one of the longer) crime novels, dating from the middle of the 19th century. The basic plot is simple enough and concerns the disappearance of a 'cursed' diamond from India during the new owner's birthday night, shortly after she was given it.

The book is written as a series of recollections of various people involved in or touched by the incident, all recalling the event months / years later.

The story is reasonably interesting and at least some of the aspects of the crime committed are hard enough to guess before the story starts drawing to a close. So in that sense the book is definitely a success and can be recommended - with one proviso. Namely it takes a certain time to get into its stride and while curiosity is aroused, Collins' writing does not exactly make this a page turner. If you start losing interest in the first section, it may be worthwhile to persevere, as the book definitely gets a bit better after the first 100 or so pages. It never turned into a gripping read in my opinion and it takes the author a long time to get anywhere with the story but it may well have been devoured far more hungrily by Collins' contemporaries - in that sense it is to be taken as a classic (which it is) and its peculiarities are probably best accepted.

So as long as you do not mistake this for an Agatha Christie, or even worse, a modern thriller type crime fiction, there is enjoyment to be had from the story, even if the work to get to the gems is a bit harder. And while probably not intended so by the author, certain aspects will also produce wry amusement for a more modern reader - definitely an added bonus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely piece of Victoriana, 19 July 2009
By 
Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
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Most of the story has been set out in other reviews but I would echo one suggestion to read the novel first and study all the forewords, introductions and general gubbins once you've finished.

It is an event and character driven novel with only the sands of the Yorkshire coast giving any feel of location. The characters take turns as narrator with Bettinger, the old retainer, given the longest voice at over 200 pages. Each person is 'giving testimony' about the central crime. Every narrator has endearing idiosyncrasies and are beautifully drawn by Mr Collins.

As with Dickens this was designed for serialization and so can often feel as though you are reading the novel by the kilo rather than the chapter. It does reward patience with loads of weird characters and nuances that are missed the moment you give in to the temptation to speed read.

All the loose ends are tied up neatly. The good people do well and the bad people get their comeuppence - very Victorian. It is a sweet read to savour. Set aside time to devote to it and it rewards.

The Penguin Classic version was really helpful on background but what a poor, uninviting and irrelevant cover.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you like Victorian thrillers?, 30 Jun 2009
By 
Citi Kiti (Salisbury, Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
If you like thrillers written in the Victorian era, with all the detail and chiaroscuro of Dickens' stories, this is "the one". Add all the twists Sherlock Holmes had to untangle, and THE MOONSTONE stands at the headwaters of that stream in English literature. I recommend NOT reading Introductions and Forwards before reading the novel itself, because some of them spoil the fun by revealing too much of the plot. Once a reader is into this book they will found themselves up to their ears in drama, clues, exotica, virtue, vice, good and evil.
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The Moonstone (Penguin Popular Classics)
The Moonstone (Penguin Popular Classics) by Wilkie Collins (Paperback - 26 July 2007)
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