The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

The BookDepository

2003 Paperback

The Moonstone was first published in 1868, and is considered to be the first detective novel ever written. Many people site The Moonstone as the longest piece of detective fiction in existence. I’m not an expert on this, but I do know that it took me a long time to read it! At 464 pages it only just classes as a chunkster, but I feel no guilt in counting it towards the Chunkster Challenge as the type was tiny!

The story takes place in an English country house, in which a rare diamond is stolen over night. The suspects are therefore limited, and a famous London detective is called in to investigate the crime.

The writing was easy to follow, but it was very dense, and so it was a slow read. For the majority of the book this wasn’t a bad thing, as I loved the descriptions, but there was a slow section in the middle, which I found hard to get through. It picked up towards the end though, and the it was very well plotted. I didn’t see any of the twists coming, and I liked the realism of it. There were also a lot of other issues raised during the book. SPOILER! Highlight text to read. I loved the beginning and ending in India, and the way Wilkie Collins challenged racial stereotypes by portraying the Indians as mysterious thieves, when they were the good ones all along.

I also found the opium factor interesting. I had no idea of it’s affects, and have since learnt that Wilkie Collins was writing from experience, as he had an opium habit.

I loved reading it so soon after The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher as I noticed all the similarities between the real murder at Road Hill and the theft of the moonstone. If you’ve read The Moonstone then it is worth having a look at this analysis – I found it very insightful. It contains lots of spoilers, so don’t click through if you’re interested in reading the book soon.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Moonstone. It was hard work at times, but well worth the effort. As it’s the first ever detective novel I can’t not recommend it, everyone should read it at some point!

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  1. DebD says:

    I’ve seen the Masterpiece Theater adaptation for the book and it was referred to quite often in my recent read To Say Nothing of the Dog – which reminded me of the ending. I would like to read this sometime, but I think I’ll have to wait a few years to forget enough ;)

    Thanks for the review.

  2. Deb – I’m pleased it’s referred to lots in To Say Nothing of the Dog – I’m planning to read that soon! Once I’ve found a copy of 3 Men in a Boat!

  3. Karen says:

    I have had Wilkie Collins recommended to me but I am not sure I am up for a dense, descriptive book at the moment! Might have to keep this one on the back burner for now.

  4. Sandy says:

    I loved this novel! I do admit, it had some moments where I had to push myself to stick to my guns and get through it, but was well-rewarded in the end. (I like how you handled the spoiler section…clever!)

  5. Simon S says:

    I think that Wilkie Collins The Woman in White is probably one of my top three books of all time and yet I have never read this, I havea copy in one of my many TBR boxes but it never seems to get to the top which is odd. I will put it higher now especially after (like you have) reading The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. Have you tried Lady Audley’s Secret, its wonderful.

  6. hopeinbrazil says:

    I’ve had this book for ages, but haven’t read it yet. Thanks for a good review that piqued my interest.

  7. S. Krishna says:

    I read the Woman in White and really likedi t, but I haven’t gotten around to this one yet. Thanks for the review.

  8. I haven’t gotten to Moonstone, but your experience sounds like mine of Woman in White–a bit slower reading because of the different writing style of the time, but fascinating and engaging. Moonstone got on my TBR list right after I read Woman in White!

  9. Framed says:

    I loved the Moonstone and really enjoyed Woman in White. Sometimes it’s just fun to read something so obviously written for a different era. I have The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher on my list but haven’t got a copy of it yet.


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