Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Moonstone readalong: half way there

Let me begin by telling you how difficult it was to stop reading this book once I was half way through. But no doubt, you know it for yourself, if you have read, or are reading, The Moonstone.
Wilkie at work - maybe he is working
on The Moonstone?
It is time for the half-monthly recap of our readalong. If you haven't read this book, and intend to (and really, there is no reason you shouldn't want because it is nothing short of fantastic), then beware of some possible spoilers in this post.
Let us just take a moment to admire this wide range of extraordinary characters that Wilkie brings us in this book: Gabriel Betteredge, Drusilla Clack, Detective Cuff (loved his heated arguments with the gardener over growing of the roses), the whole Ablewhites' bunch, Rachel Verinder, Rosanna Spearman... Blake and Bruff are a bit lifeless compared to this other lot and benefit a lot from the narrator's generousity. Betteredge humorously describes Blake as a man with several different personalities because he has spent time abroad, in different countries - sometimes the German punctuality overtakes him, other times more Italian traits -

He had his French side, and his German side, and his Italian side - the original English foundation showing through, every now and then, [...]

What do you say, when our county member, growing hot, at cheese and salad time, about the spread of democracy in England, burst out as follows: "If we once lose our ancient safeguards, Mr. Blake, I beg to ask you, what have we got left?" - what do you say to Mr. Franklin answering, from the Italian point of view: "We have got three things left, sir - Love, Music, and Salad?"
All's well as long as you have Love, Music and Salad left, I think (also, there's another idea for a cool Wilkie T-shirt).
The Moonstone starts with the narrative of Gabriel Betteredge, who I think we all agree is a cuddle-worthy hilarious sexist old man (he really doesn't like women all that much, does he, except for Verinders - the paragraphs in the beginning where he describes his wife always being "on his way", like on the stairs - he wanted to go up, she wanted to go down; when she wanted to go down, he wanted to go up), and honestly, you really don't want his narrative to end, only until you get to the next part, the superstar of this book so far, for me - Drusilla Clack.

Betteredge, Cuff and gardener
discussing the fine art of growing
Now here's a character that would make you pull out your hair if she happened to appear in the same room with you in "the real life", but let's admit, as a book character, she is fantastic. No one really likes her and you can easily see why; at the same time one kind of wants to sympathise with her because she seems to think she is doing The Right Thing. Of course, the whole affair ends in hilarious martyrdom from Clack's side. And she knows it - after eavesdropping on conversation that is not meant for her ears -
To show myself, after what I had heard, was impossible. To retreat - except into the fireplace - was equally out of the question. A martyrdom was before me.

Drusilla seems to think of herself as some kind of a deeply pious superhero - basically she has a religious remedy to solve any problem -
A mental problem was involved here. I am deeply interested in mental problems - and I am not, it is thought, without some skill in solving them.
Drusilla's solution to mankind's problems (which includes littering other people's homes with lots of pamphlets with certain contents) does not meet warm welcome from... well, almost anyone. For example, Mr. Ablewhite:
His wife was the next person whom he addressed. "Who... who... who," he said, stammering with rage, "who asked this impudent fanatic into the house? Did you?"
The last of the narratives I read was this of Mr. Bruff, the attorney; it was a lot more matter-of-fact, and basically just a big info-dump, but I needed to catch my breath anyway after that bumpy ride with Drusilla.
Next narrator is Franklin Blake and I really don't have highest hopes for him - after all, what can you possibly come up with after Betteredge and Clack? - but I want to see where the story goes and what happened to the big-ass diamond, and also what happens to Rachel Verinder, who is an interesting character but who I would not want to be my BFF.
I'll finish this ramble off with a few covers I found - apparently there is a comic book based on the story, how wonderful is that? But yeah, those covers just look amusing in any case.



  1. There is a comic book based on the story?! AMAZING!

    Anyway, I loved reading your thoughts. Betteredge is definitely cuddle-worthy. I would happily snuggle up with him and a copy of Crusoe (you know, in that fantasy world where I don't hate Crusoe). Miss Clack made me want to pull my hair out and laugh uncontrollably on multiple occasions. Those religious tracts! Some of them actually sound pretty terrifying. Bruff definitely was different to his predecessors but I did enjoy the quietly triumphant elements to his narration. He certainly lives up to his name I think - in fact that is one thing I love about this book, all the characters have really descriptive names. I know that's like a thing in Victorian lit but I do love it here.

    Also, I needs to get my one of those t-shirts - love, music and salad? Yes, please!

    Enjoy the rest of the novel, looking forward to your thoughts at the end :D

    1. Haha, next time when I try Robinson Crusoe I'll just be thinking about Betteredge constantly and then maybe it will not be so bad. And yes - I also made a mental note on the descriptive names (Ablewhite? :D)

      Thanks Ellie.

  2. I love those comic book covers! Somehow it captures the cool retro vibe I get from reading The Moonstone. Unfortunately, I'm still way behind in the book ...

    1. Indeed! I would love to see the comic book but I fear if they still exist they are probably very expensive. I stopped reading The Moonstone in the middle of the month to stretch it out more, and have only now picked it up again.

      I hope you are not behind because you find it boring - if I remember correctly you have several reads in your hands right now so it makes sense that you can't focus on them all at once.

  3. I didn't know what all the fuss was about this book seeing so many bloggers participating in this read-along. Not wanting to read spoilers, I didn't read this whole post when I first saw it, but I made a mental note to investigate the book further, which I promptly forgot about until I spotted an absolutely gorgeous copy at my local library. I finally read the synopsis and can hardly believe this one passed under my radar for so long -- I totally get your enthusiasm now! I'm way too late for the read-along, but I'm thinking this might even be a good classics club pick (if you judge a classic by a book's age, it definitely qualifies!)...I really must make a better effort on that for the new year...

    1. Zomg look at that copy!

      Wilkie Collins is an excellent Classics Club pick I think because he is more of approachable author than many others. (Judging by the language, it's hard to think these books are written almost two centuries ago.) Another huge plus is that his characters are hilarious. At least based on the two books I've read (other being The Woman in White), he is a very funny author. I definitely encourage you to try out either of these books :)


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