The Moonstone

The Moonstone

4.2 68
by Wilkie Collins
     
 

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‘When you looked down into the stone, you looked into a yellow deep that drew your eyes into it so that they saw nothing else’

The Moonstone, a yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and believed to bring bad luck to its owner, is bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night the priceless stone is stolen again and

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Overview

‘When you looked down into the stone, you looked into a yellow deep that drew your eyes into it so that they saw nothing else’

The Moonstone, a yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and believed to bring bad luck to its owner, is bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night the priceless stone is stolen again and when Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate the crime, he soon realizes that no one in Rachel’s household is above suspicion. Hailed by T. S. Eliot as ‘the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels’, The Moonstone is a marvellously taut and intricate tale of mystery, in which facts and memory can prove treacherous and not everyone is as they first appear.

Sandra Kemp’s introduction examines The Moonstone as a work of Victorian sensation fiction and an early example of the detective genre, and discusses the technique of multiple narrators, the role of opium, and Collins’s sources and autobiographical references.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The first and greatest of English detective novels."
—T. S. Eliot
William Baker Northern Illinois University
"This superbly edited and richly documented edition of what T.S. Eliot described as 'the first and greatest of English detective novels' is the definitive and indispensible edition of The Moonstone."
Catherine Peters
"The Moonstone, one of Wilkie Collins's most popular and successful novels, has never been out of print since its first publication in 1868. Is another edition needed? The answer, in the case of Professor Farmer's scholarly and impeccably edited text, must be a resounding yes. Invaluable for his survey of past and present reactions to the story, and for his own insights, the edition also includes historical and background material and a well-chosen collection of relevant contemporary documents—always an important feature of Broadview Literary Texts. This Moonstone will surely prove another winner for Broadview's list."
The Wilkie Collins Society Journal
"Steve Farmer's Broadview edition will undoubtedly become the definitive edition of The Moonstone. [It] deserves a five star rating."
Adrian J. Pinnington Waseda University
"Here is a book which anyone with an interest in either Collins or Victorian literature in general will want to buy. The chief reason for this is Broadview's exceptionally generous editorial policy in its series of Literary Texts, and the very good use that Steve Farmer has made of this generosity. In this edition, for a reasonable price, we are given not only a beautifully printed and error-free annotated text of the novel, but also a full introduction and over 150 pages of appendices...This is the first time that Collins' dramatic adaptation of the novel has been reprinted and this text alone is well worth the price of the book."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140434088
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/28/1999
Series:
Penguin Classics Series
Edition description:
Revised
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
439,108
Product dimensions:
5.04(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Part Three of the Prologue
The storming of Seringapatam (1799)
Extracted from a family paper III

So, as told in our camp, ran the fanciful story of the Moonstone. It made no serious impression on any of us except my cousin—whose love of the marvellous induced him to believe it. On the night before the assault on Seringapatam, he was absurdly angry with me, and with others, for treating the whole thing as a fable. A foolish wrangle followed; and Herncastle's unlucky temper got the better of him. He declared, in his boastful way, that we should see the Diamond on his finger, if the English army took Seringapatam. The sally was saluted by a roar of laughter, and there, as we all thought that night, the thing ended.

Let me now take you on to the day of the assault.

My cousin and I were separated at the outset. I never saw him when we forded the river; when we planted the English flag in the first breach; when we crossed the ditch beyond; and, fighting every inch of our way, entered the town. It was only at dusk, when the place was ours, and after General Baird himself had found the dead body of Tippoo under a heap of the slain, that Herncastle and I met.

We were each attached to a party sent out by the general's orders to prevent the plunder and confusion which followed our conquest. The camp-followers committed deplorable excesses; and, worse still, the soldiers found their way, by an unguarded door, into the treasury of the Palace, and loaded themselves with gold and jewels. It was in the court outside the treasury that my cousin and I met, to enforce the laws of discipline on our own soldiers. Herncastle's fiery temper had been, as I could plainly see, exasperated to a kind of frenzy by the terrible slaughter through which we had passed. He was very unfit, in my opinion, to perform the duty that had been entrusted to him.

There was riot and confusion enough in the treasury, but no violence that I saw. The men (if I may use such an expression) disgraced themselves good-humouredly. All sorts of rough jests and catchwords were bandied about among them; and the story of the Diamond turned up again unexpectedly, in the form of a mischievous joke. 'Who's got the Moonstone?' was the rallying cry which perpetually caused the plundering, as soon as it was stopped in one place, to break out in another. While I was still vainly trying to establish order, I heard a frightful yelling on the other side of the courtyard, and at once ran towards the cries, in dread of finding some new outbreak of the pillage in that direction.

I got to an open door, and saw the bodies of two Indians (by their dress, as I guessed, officers of the palace) lying across the entrance, dead.

A cry inside hurried me into a room, which appeared to serve as an armoury. A third Indian, mortally wounded, was sinking at the feet of a man whose back was towards me. The man turned at the instant when I came in, and I saw John Herncastle, with a torch in one hand, and a dagger dripping with blood in the other. A stone, set like a pommel, in the end of the dagger's handle, flashed in the torchlight, as he turned on me, like a gleam of fire. The dying Indian sank to his knees, pointed to the dagger in Herncastle's hand, and said, in his native language:—'The Moonstone will have its vengeance yet on you and yours!' He spoke those words, and fell dead on the floor.

Before I could stir in the matter, the men who had followed me across the courtyard crowded in. My cousin rushed to meet them, like a madman. 'Clear the room!' he shouted to me, 'and set a guard on the door!' The men fell back as he threw himself on them with his torch and his dagger. I put two sentinels of my own company, on whom I could rely, to keep the door. Through the remainder of the night, I saw no more of my cousin. Early in the morning, the plunder still going on, General Baird announced publicly by beat of drum, that any thief detected in the fact, be he whom he might, should be hung. The provost-marshal was in attendance, to prove that the General was in earnest; and in the throng that followed the proclamation, Herncastle and I met again.
He held out his hand, as usual, and said, 'Good morning.'
I waited before I gave him my hand in return.
'Tell me first,' I said, 'how the Indian in the armoury met his death, and what those last words meant, when he pointed to the dagger in your hand.'
'The Indian met his death, as I suppose, by a mortal wound,' said Herncastle. 'What his last words meant I know no more than you do.'
I looked at him narrowly. His frenzy of the previous day had all calmed down. I determined to give him another chance.
'Is that all you have to tell me?' I asked. He answered, 'That is all.'
I turned my back on him; and we have not spoken since.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

“The very finest detective story ever written.”—Dorothy Sayers

Meet the Author

William Wilkie Collins (8 January 1824 - 23 September 1889) was an English novelist, playwright, and author of short stories. His best-known works are The Woman in White (1859), No Name (1862), Armadale (1866), and The Moonstone (1868).

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 8, 1824
Date of Death:
September 23, 1889
Place of Birth:
London, England
Place of Death:
London, England
Education:
Studied law at Lincoln¿s Inn, London

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The Moonstone (Illustrated + link to download FREE audiobook + Active TOC) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 68 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read this book because I love mysteries and classics and it seemed to be getting good feedback. However, this is one of the highest level mysteries I have read and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I loved how there were several narrators to keep it flowing and all of them were very different people. It has many twists and turns and I was very surprised at the ending! The only thing that stops me from giving it a 5 is that at times it was very dull and confusing but the rest of the novel makes up for it! I will certainly be reading more from Collins!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never read any of Wilkie Collins' books before (although I look forward to doing so) and found this book to be extraordinarily intriguing. He is able to capture the reader's attention from the very first page and continues doing just that throughout the rest of the book. His characters are very well chosen and distinguished and his style of writing is very captivating.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is really a simple detective story that has been written in a likable manner. Three main protagonists tell the tale of the stolen diamond. Among the three the narrative of Miss Clack is quite enjoyable. This book pokes fun at religious fanaticism, sycophancy and stratified social norms of Victorian England. But what attracted me was the way Indian Characters are treated by the writer. Absence of condescension and racial bigotry marks the writer¿s sympathetic viewpoint of the Indian Characters and even rationalizes their murder of the perpetrator. One is then surprised to note that this novel is way ahead of it¿s time, as Indians characters are still either patronized or vilified albeit couched in innuendoes. Though not exactly in the league of the great classics it is undeniably exquisite piece of work! The writer was a great friend of Dickens ¿ who I believe mistreated him and as a result Collins was often depressed. That could well mean that Dickens was jealous of Collins and rightly so. Except for Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, I find Dickens¿ writing boring and unnecessarily convoluted. For instance, one does have a hard time reading Hard Times, especially considering that Emile Zola had taken the same subject in Germinal and made it interesting and a delight to read.
NAaisl35 More than 1 year ago
For her 18th birthday Rachel Verinder is given the dazzling Moonstone, an enchanting diamond stolen from an Indian temple. In the dark, the diamond has an eerie glow, making it subject to stories of curses and superstition. It was gifted by her infamous late uncle, only to be stolen that very night. When Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate, he realizes that no one in Rachel's household is above suspicion. This mystery is exciting, but it's aimed at a middle aged audience. For any teenager the plot is too slow and the language difficult to understand. It's a brilliant read if you're patient. A classic mystery story, and one of the very first mystery novels. Wilkie Collins was born in 1824 and died in 1889. He was one of the most popular novelists of his day, and wrote many great mystery stories. You could call him a mystery expert because the way he wrote this book showed a deep understanding of the way mysteries are solved. A good mystery novel should have suspense, crime, and a enticing detective . The Moonstone covered them all. Near the start of the book there is already some foreshadowing. As the narrator Mr. Betterage tells us, "If I could only have looked a little was into the future, I would have taken Rosanna Spearman out of the house, then and there, with my own hand." Also, throughout the story the people around Sergeant Cuff, including the readers begin to get 'detective fever'. This is when you get an urge to continue reading, and you desperately want to find out what is going to happen next. In many detective novels, the object of the story was to trace the influence of circumstances upon the character of the people. In other words, use how the people behaved to find out who committed the crime. Collins has reversed this process. The attempt in this story is to figure out the character of the people using the circumstances. In a lot of ways, it is a physiological experiment. Another one of the story's assets was that the story of the diamond is not entirely fiction. The inspiration for the moonstone was actually the stone that sits on top of the Russian Imperial Scepter, which was once the eye of an Indian idol. The idea of the curse came from the famous Koh-i-Noor, another sacred gem of India. It is prophesied to bring certain misfortune to the people who divert it from its ancient uses. It was these realistic objects, along with a new way of solving mysteries and the intricate patterns of character's lives, that made the book so unique. I have read no other mystery books that are as complicated as this one. In a book like The Orient Express by Agatha Christie the mystery story follows the pattern that most mystery stories do. The crime is committed, the detective solves the mystery, the criminal is caught. Still an enjoyable read, but it doesn't have the kind of depth that the Moonstone has. In the Moonstone you not only find out about the crime being solved, but you get the opportunity to observe the nature of human activity. It tries to explain what makes people tick. In conclusion, the Moonstone was a long but unique read, most suitable for anyone from the late thirties up. The story's high points were the suspense, the detective fever, and the realistic approach in the setting. The book would not appeal to a teenager because of the complexity and consideration put into the details of the story. This book is highly recommended to anyone who likes a challenge and a game of wits.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is incredible!!! I never guessed who it was, a must.
LibrarianJP More than 1 year ago
In The Moonstone, Collins introduces us to a variety of characters, situations, and a great mystery. I found the novel to be so absorbing, that I was hardly able to put the book down. Even when he unravels a part of the mystery, Collns only makes the story more mysterious(an amazing feature)! After reading The Moonstone, I decided that I had to buy The Woman in White to get more of Collins distinctive writing style.
VRC More than 1 year ago
Wilkie Collins is great fun to read. His philosophies are somewhat (and refreshingly) liberal for his time, particularly those in regard to servants, foreigners and women. His stories are sprinkled with just a dash of wit and satire, yet his characters and their motives are crystal clear and believable. In this, arguably one of the first mystery novels, (Poe began it all, after all, did he not?) the plot revolves around a stone, a great gem that has been stolen from an Indian idol. A birthday present to our heroine, it is stolen the same night it is given, and through a series of changing narratives the mystery is uncovered. It's a clever twist of plotting to make the hero the villain and then the hero again, but how it comes about I will not say. No one likes to have a mystery spoiled. The Moonstone is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I highly recommend it.
Dawn83 More than 1 year ago
Fun, thrilling, and utterly captivating from beginning to end.
angie1984 More than 1 year ago
I READ WILKIE COLLINS'S "WOMAN IN WHITE" AND I LOVED IT, BUT THIS BOOK IS EVEN BETTER, THE ACTION AND MYSTERY FROM THE FIRST PAGE TO ALMOST THE END OF THE BOOK.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend Collins' The Moonstone. It kept my attention throughout with a storyline that was both interesting, entertaining, and a quick read. It reads like a combination of Indiana Jones, Sherlock Holmes, and Edith Wharton...part mystery, part romance, and part social commentary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So cool!,
Johnny-Appleseed More than 1 year ago
I have a couple small flaws with this book, but they're insignificant compared to the genius within it. The first is the length of it; the book is over 500 pages long, and for over 400 of them, the Diamond (being The Moonstone) is lost. This leaves a reader such as myself plowing through the thick of the book wanting the Diamond to reappear just so it is over with. But that is a selfish laziness of mine. The second flaw with the book has to do with the narrative style; I found myself wanting Betteridge to write the entirety of it. After reading his entire piece, and noticing that it was the first part (and approximately half of the story), the other ten narrators paled in comparison. In addition, the descriptive styles in which they wrote rarely differed from one another. We as an audience felt as if Collins were simply filling their mouths with words as they spilled them out. Overlooking those two flaws, the book itself is incredible. Keeping in mind throughout the entire story that it was the foundation of the entire mystery genre help make us realize just how incredibly well the story is written. Collins gives us multiple false leads and red herrings on the journey, and leaves us wondering exactly how the sacred Diamond escaped from Miss Verinder's drawer that fateful night. The remainder of this review contain easily conceived spoilers, and it is recommended that those wishing to read this novel ignore it. I will say that my conclusion is The Moonstone is an absolute must read for anyone who enjoys detective novels. As we slowly but surely piece together solid evidence of the path of the Diamond following its disappearance, we suddenly are jilted back to the fateful night; who exactly did the deed? We find out this critical turning point, and shortly after, the puzzle, assembled in reverse, comes to a close. Throughout it all, we grow to dislike the Indians, who are actually the rightful owners, and are finally snapped back into this correct focus and given a satisfactory ending. Incredibly well-constructed plot and a happy, restorative ending make The Moonstone to be an absolute must read for anyone who enjoys detective novels.
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
A diamond is stolen from the English country estate of Lady Verinder and the renowned Sergeant Cuff is brought in from London to help solve the case. The diamond, said to bring bad luck to its owner because it was stolen from a temple in India, was given to Lady Verinder's daughter, Rachel, on her 18th birthday. It was bequeathed to Rachel from her uncle (who stole it when he was a young soldier) on his death. The story unfolds through several narrators, all of whom know a piece of what happened. As each of them writes his or her side of the story, the reader gets just a little more information that helps to solve the mystery. Considered to be the first detective mystery, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins offers a glimpse into the times it was written-the 1860s. It was published serially, with new pieces of the story unfolding one section at a time for around six months. It reveals the understandings held about English ladies and gentleman, especially the thought that no well brought up young man or woman could ever commit a crime. It touches on a common occurrence at the time, the looting of jewels by English soldiers from temples in India. And, it's fun to read once you get into the rhythm of Collins's writing style (writers at the time were paid by the word, so you won't find sparse descriptions and conversations here). Each narrator brought a different perspective and style that was refreshing, and each break kept the story moving in unexpected ways. My daughter and I both found it fun to guess what had happened the night of the theft and in the days following it. My guesses were invariably wrong, but that didn't stop me from developing new theories as the story progressed. My daughter's guess about the culprit was right, although neither of us anticipated some of the twists and turns The Moonstone took before the mystery was actually resolved. The Moonstone is longer reading for mother-daughter book clubs, but it is easily divided into two separate sections that can be discussed at two different meetings. Groups could read The Loss of the Diamond, then gather to discuss their theories about what happened. They could also write predictions down and compare them to what actually happened during the rest of the book when they meet again. I recommend The Moonstone for reading groups with girls aged 14 and up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bought for Book Club; found hard to read author's circuitous style; planned to serialize in newspaper; kept waiting for plot to get better, but it didn't.
Guest More than 1 year ago
it starts off really really really slow.. but after a few hundred pages it picks up pace and gets into the plot.
Anonymous 5 months ago
A great detective novel which some characters are still revelent to today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great characters, storytelling and more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alec, calm down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Redfur you must unite with Hawk to save Hazle and Day if not great fears come upon and all will be red. Redfure finds himself on a redrock looking over everything ot looks normal the all is red. Goodbye Redfur.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RedReadSD More than 1 year ago
I have read other books by Wilkie Collins and found them to be acceptable, not great but not too bad. 'The Moonstone' was on a list of books that everyone should read, so I was expecting it to be exceptional. I was severely disappointed. The story is told in sections, each section is written by a different character, each relating the events from their perspective. Set in the 1840's (when it was written) the language may be a hurdle for anyone that is not familiar with that era. I was comfortable with the language and the era however the story seemed to drag on forever. The characters were very one-sided and not very likable. Some things were described in complete detail, when no detail was needed, while other things and scenes were not described well at all, leaving me trying to picture who was where. If you want to read a 'classic' mystery just so you can say you have read it, this may be the book for you. If you want a good mystery that draws you in, a story that you can become emotionally invested in the outcome, you should pass on this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book and it was not as good as Woman in White. What I think it lacked was enough suspense for a good mystery. I do like the writing style Wilkie Collins uses in this book with the different 1st person narrator. There are also really good characters in this story. However, my opinion is that a writer can have wonderful characters, but the story has to be good enough for the characters in it. This is where this novel really fell flat for me. The story as a whole was just kind of anticlimactic at the end and it got long-winded at times. I am on the fence on recommending this book. The writing style is unique, but Collins' Woman in White is just a better story than this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Wilkie Collins. I love the way he writes. Very good read.