This is a very long book, and took me more than a week to read. Part of this, no doubt, because I was reading other books as I read this one: the second of James Butcher’s Codex Alera series, which I also managed to finish up last night.
Putting together my thoughts on The Moonstone, my overall impression is that I enjoyed it. I really liked the format a lot. I loved the way Mr. Collins told the story through narratives from multiple characters. This had the effect of hiding certain pieces of information from the reader until they could be revealed in the knowledgable character’s narrative. I thought that it was an interesting – and effective – writing device.
I also really enjoyed the characters. I really liked Betteredge, with his reliance on Robinson Crusoe for guidance, which has inspired me to add Robinson Crusoe to my list of books to read. Receiving the first part of the story from Betteredge was very effective. As a neutral narrator, his narration felt more reliable. Franklin Blake, as it turned out, provided some of the most interesting narration.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
With respect to the solution, I thought it was frankly rather silly and contrived. It all worked together nicely, and worked well in terms of the plot, but it was utterly unrealistic that someone could commit a crime while under the influence of opium and be unaware of it. This lack of realism didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book – it constituted a clever puzzle and it worked well enough. But it was silly.
There was a little bit of very decorous romance contained in the book.
Mr. Collins imbued this work with some social criticism, although not as openly and as obviously as his contemporary, Charles Dickens. He definitely doesn’t have the same level of scathing social commentary as a subtext to this particular work. There are some hints at the inequitability of the positions of social class, especially when the book addresses the perspective from Betteredge’s daughter. The distinction between the servant daughter and Rachel Verinder is nicely exposed as being due to an accident of birth rather than to some inherent merit of mind.
I’m not going to bother to rate the books that I talk about in this blog. Anyone who manages to find their way here will be aware of the authors I am reading and discussing.
At this point, I plan to continue with a survey of Victorian literature AFTER I take a brief break to read something by the inimitable Agatha Christie from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.