Collins tells us himself in the final lines of the Preface that the Moonstone diamond is founded on the stories of two royal diamonds, the Orlov in the Russian sceptre and the Koh-i-noor, a sacred diamond of India which is supposed to cause “certain misfortune to the persons who should divert it from its ancient uses.”
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins is considered to be the first English detective novel. I’m not a big mystery buff. I view this book as English literature that is also a romance with a few policemen thrown in. But I concede it does contain a lot of the elements that later became the classic detective story and if I tell you some of them, it will give away some aspects of the story.
As with some of his other novels, Collins tells the story through character narratives and at times with comedy. My favorite character, Gabriel Betteredge, the head servant of the Verinder household provides the first and most humorous narrative for a good portion of the book. Miss Clark’s narrative also had me laughing.
My copy of The Moonstone has the Preface written by Wilkie Collins and many of these wonderful illustrations. I recommend that you refrain from looking ahead at the illustrations, as I did, because you may find an illustration that gives away a plot twist in the story.
This was a book club pick, and on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, it rated around a 7 or 7.5. My rating was 7.5 or 8, but I’m comparing it to other Wilkie Collins’ books that I have read. The Woman in White, No Name and Armadale are all solid 9’s in my opinion, and The Moonstone definitely falls short of the other three.
The Moonstone is in the public domain, which means it’s available for free to read online at Gutenberg.org or listen to at Librivox.org and on their phone apps. So find your quiet place and read or listen to this one.