Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 1868
Genre Fiction
Origin UK
Publisher Everyman
ISBN-10 0679417222
ISBN-13 978-0679417224
My Copy library hardback
First Read September 28, 2011

The Moonstone



Besides being known as the best work of my author du jour, The Moonstone is more famous because it's the first detective novel! It was the first to set up the basic plotlines of a detective novel: the scene is set, the crime is committed, and we spend the rest of the novel following one or more detectives trying to solve the mystery.

It follows a similar epistolary* style, where the narrative author changes hands throughout the book. The best by far is the first narrator, the family's trusted servant Betteredge. He's a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy, full of humble wisdom and wit, and refers every event to Robinson Crusoe. It's this kind of great character that makes Collins really work, and the overall plotting and pace is exciting and smooth, leaps and bounds better than The Woman in White.

* Note: Epistolary is totally the wrong word here. It's not made of letters, but written accounts, like testimonies or depositions. In one case a diary is used. Is there a term for that?

Noted on September 28, 2011

"What are you doing here?" I asked. "Why are you not in your proper
 bed?"

"I am not in my proper bed," answered the Sergeant, "because I am one of the many people in this miserable world who can't earn their money honestly and easily at the same time.

Quoted on September 28, 2011

In the twinkling of an eye, he burst in on me with his cigar-case, and came out strong on the one everlasting subject, in his neat, witty, unbelieving, French way. "Give me a light, Betteredge. Is it conceivable that a man can have smoked as long as I have without discovering that there is a complete system for the treatment of women at the bottom of his cigar-case? Follow me carefully, and I will prove it in two words. You choose a cigar, you try it, and it disappoints you. What do you do upon that? You throw it away and try another. Now observe the application! You choose a woman, you try her, and she breaks your heart. Fool! take a lesson from your cigar-case. Throw her away, and try another!"

I shook my head at that. Wonderfully clever, I dare say, but my own experience was dead against it. "In the time of the late Mrs. Betteredge," I said, "I felt pretty often inclined to try your philosophy, Mr. Franklin. But the law insists on your smoking your cigar, sir, when you have once chosen it." I pointed that observation with a wink.

Quoted on September 28, 2011

Perhaps you think you see a certain contradiction here? In that case, a word in your ear. Study your wife closely, for the next four-and-twenty hours. If your good lady doesn't exhibit something in the shape of a contradiction in that time, Heaven help you!--you have married a monster.

Quoted on September 28, 2011

Gentlefolks in general have a very awkward rock ahead in life-- the rock ahead of their own idleness. Their lives being, for the most part, passed in looking about them for something to do, it is curious to see--especially when their tastes are of what is called the intellectual sort--how often they drift blindfold into some nasty pursuit. Nine times out of ten they take to torturing something, or to spoiling something-- and they firmly believe they are improving their minds, when the plain truth is, they are only making a mess in the house. I have seen them (ladies, I am sorry to say, as well as gentlemen) go out, day after day, for example, with empty pill-boxes, and catch newts, and beetles, and spiders, and frogs, and come home and stick pins through the miserable wretches, or cut them up, without a pang of remorse, into little pieces. You see my young master, or my young mistress, poring over one of their spiders' insides with a magnifying-glass; or you meet one of their frogs walking downstairs without his head--and when you wonder what this cruel nastiness means, you are told that it means a taste in my young master or my young mistress for natural history. Sometimes, again, you see them occupied for hours together in spoiling a pretty flower with pointed instruments, out of a stupid curiosity to know what the flower is made of. Is its colour any prettier, or its scent any sweeter, when you DO know? But there! the poor souls must get through the time, you see--they must get through the time. You dabbled in nasty mud, and made pies, when you were a child; and you dabble in nasty science, and dissect spiders, and spoil flowers, when you grow up. In the one case and in the other, the secret of it is, that you have got nothing to think of in your poor empty head, and nothing to do with your poor idle hands.

Quoted on September 28, 2011

The upshot of it was, that Rosanna Spearman had been a thief, and not being of the sort that get up Companies in the City, and rob from thousands, instead of only robbing from one, the law laid hold of her, and the prison and the reformatory followed the lead of the law.

Quoted on September 28, 2011


Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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