The Moonstone: I Love You, Wilkie Collins

For My Life of Crime…Reading, I’m reading every novel on HRF Keating’s list in Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books. I love The Moonstone. If you are a fan of nineteenth-century novels with framing devices, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Collins’ narrative will appeal to you. As Keating says, the novel is “full of splendid character studies.” More than that, it is a rollicking good time. A yellow diamond is stolen from an Indian temple, secretly transported to England, then vindictively willed to an innocent young woman…and that’s just the set-up for the novel’s central plot. Let me just channel Stefan from Saturday Night Live for a second. This book has everything. Briefly, a list of things in the first 300 pages:

  • The cursed yellow diamond of the title
  • Brahmin priests posing as jugglers in the English countryside
  • A heroine meant to be played by Katharine Hepburn
  • Quicksand
  • A detective obsessed with growing roses
  • Jokes about subjectivity in German philosophy
  • Elderly men who read Robinson Crusoe when in crisis
  • Unrequited lesbian love triangles
  • And Miss Drusilla Clack, who puts religious tracts in other peoples’ bathrooms.*

If that list doesn’t make you want to read a book, I don’t know what will!



*PS: I found this section hilarious. My grandmother was something of a Miss Clack, except she preferred to distribute her tracts with the Halloween candy.

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