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.
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 -
Betteredge, Cuff and gardener
discussing the fine art of growing
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.