"fabric artist and quilter"
This is reputed to be the first ever whodonit mystery written and as a detective novel it was great. It is not now my favourite genre - I have in my time read many of Agatha Christie's and other such mysteries and this is up there with the best of them. However, after listening to A Lady in White I was fully expecting a more gothic setting and as such the book was a bit disappointing.
A similar format was employed by Wilkie Collins' in that different sections of the book were spoken by different characters such as the butler, the inspector, dinner party guests etc. However, unlike the version of A Lady in White that I heard where there were both a male and female narrator were used, in this Peter Jeffery read both male and female characters. He did a good job but it lacked the drama I expected.
I did enjoy it, I didn't guess the thief and it was very entertaining. Recommended to those that enjoy whodonits and want to hear the one that started it all.
Quite apart from having an ingenious plot, this story is brimming with characters you will either come to love or come to love to loathe! Peter Jeffrey's narration is simply brilliant.
The plot kept me guessing the whole time.
Like the great Cuff, I would go into service and work for Gabriel Betteredge if Peter Jeffrey were playing him. The book is worth the price of admission just to hear Betteredge talk about himself. Miss Clack is deliciously hateful.
This is a story you can listen to over and over again with the same enjoyment as you had the first time you heard it.
Say something about yourself!
This is a classic for a reason. Despite its impressive length, the listener doesn't want it to end. (Well, this one didn't, at any rate.)
At its heart, this is a mystery story - the first great detective novel, in fact - centered on the question of the theft of the moonstone. (This layers irony upon irony, as it is stolen no less than four times - and, for that matter, the tale is built on the original theft of the stone by a British officer from its native Indian setting.) Collins skillfully builds the novel upon the foundations of the real-life Constance Kent murder case of 1860, basing the police inspector, Sergeant Cuff, on the living model of Detective Inspector Jonathan 'Jack' Whicher. He also captures some of the burgeoning method and mindset of forensic science through the theories and experiments of his character Mr. Candy.
What sets this novel apart, beyond its claim to many "firsts," is the remarkable multi-layered texture of the tale. Collins uses a variety of narrators - male and female, highborn and lowly, of various ethnic and racial backgrounds - to convey his story, and he shows remarkable sympathy and sensitivity in writing about the outcast and marginalized characters as well as the mainstream and traditional ones. The Moonstone may be a read as a work of social criticism, an indictment of imperialism and the white man's (or woman's) burden, and a commentary on a crucial moment in intellectual history in which custom, faith, superstition, prejudice, reason, and science were colliding in a particularly powerful way. Even Collins's minor characters and asides are weighty and thought-provoking.
The Moonstone outsold Great Expectations by Dickens when it was originally published, and it's easy to see why. As a novel - not simply a detective novel, or a Victorian novel, or an English novel - it holds up extremely well to multiple modern readings/listenings.
Peter Jeffrey's narration is as flawless as they come. He manages to distinguish many characters' voices from each other with seeming effortlessness, and he fills his reading with warmth and humor, dread and pathos at all the perfect places. I simply can't recommend this highly enough.
I love to read mysteries, histories, biographies, humor, and Jane Austen.
I enjoyed listening to this, though I found it a bit slow sometimes. Didn't realize this was basically the first detective story ever written. As a detective story, it seemed a bit thin, but then again it's hard to get everything right when you are inventing a genre! I've also read that Collin's description of laudanum addiction is remarkably accurate. The reader is excellent. For folks who enjoy 19th century literature, be sure to give this one a listen - you will enjoy it.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
When reading The Moonstone, it might be useful to remember the time in which it was written, and think of Victorian decor - lots of florals, stuffed cushions, and knick-knacks. The concept of "less is more" simply doesn't exist. That will prepare you for Wilkie Collins' writing style which is also a product of its time. Economy of expression does not exist, but if you can forgive the verbosity and appreciate the characters and the plot, you may enjoy this ancestor of the mystery novels genre. Personally I had mixed feelings - sometimes enraptured by the excellent character development (Mr. Betteridge and Miss Clack being especially well drawn) and then frustrated by repetition and irrelevancies. If I had not listened to it on Audble, because of the excessive descriptiveness I would have either skimmed past the wordier sections or possibly given up altogether. But the excellent reading kept me engaged.
Judged by todays mystery/thriller standards, it is tame and overly complicated. Lives don't hang in the balance, clues are not left out in the open for the reader to be able to solve the crime along with the characters. If it had been written today with the same overstuffed style, I would rate it lower than a four, but I could clearly see the forerunner of Sherlock Holmes and of the English "cozy" mysteries in this story and appreciated it for what it was. Readers expecting action and thrills will not be so satisfied.
This book is one of the most beautifully read audio books I have heared in a long time, a great and we'll written story, if a little rambling at times, it's clear why this is considered a classic. However it's Peter Jeffrey who re-envigorates it with such perfect character interpretation.
No, the book is too long
The humble house servant who like Robinson Crusoe.
not a bad book, just really long
I do plan to listen again. It was a fantastically woven story. I have to say, it really had me guessing and reevaluating right up until near the end. There were so many threads to follow, and many interesting characters to try to figure out. It was quite the tangled intrigue. It's almost difficult to talk about without many spoilers, so without divulging, let it suffice that it kept me gripped. I thought I'd been developing a knack for cracking whodunits pre-reveal, but this one was well beyond my powers. As it turns out, this is probably the earliest of what I'd deem a detective novel, and was distinct in character from my usual mystery favorites by the later writers like Conan Doyle and Christie. Some aspects struck me as a bit sensational, too fantastic, like the myth surrounding the stone and deadly foreigners come for revenge and to return their relic... but other parts of the story-line were perfectly down to earth and believable, like the maid's story of unrequited love. Not my usual type of mystery novel at all, but well worth the read.
Definitely the detective. I felt rather sorry for Inspector Cuff, how things were turning out, after all of his work and sound theories.
I don't know if I could have tackled this book in print form, it might have been a bit tedious. With the narration, it helped keep track of players, and brought it more to life.
Well, I might have if I could, but it was too long, and there weren't enough free hours in my day.
I recently read the non-fictional Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, which tells the story of a sensationalized murder in 1860 and the investigation and fallout. Remarkably, as I was reading, the thought occurred to me that many of the events, characters, and suggestions sounded familiar, like a plot out of a book- like the Moonstone. "Suspicions" later went on to mention the author Collins and his writings, and how his novel and many other new "detective" stories of the day were drawing from the headlines and that crime. Gave an interesting new perspective. I liked the fictionalized goings-on better, in the end.
The audio gave a real flavor of the different characters' speech patterns and dialects, and added to their sense of personality.
Mr. Jeffrey did a marvelous job with all the characters. This was vital to this story, since it is told from different people's points of view. Each character sounded totally genuine.
A few characters certainly made me laugh, mostly because they were so totally unaware of their flaws and foibles. This humor made a nice break from the suspense, while adding to the depth of the story. But at the same time, a few characters lead almost tragic lives, and Collins shed light on how hard it is when we feel genuine sympathy but are unable to help.
A terrific story, with lots of plot twists and cliff hangers from it's original serial format. Although some characters voiced typical Victorian attitudes, overall Collins shared a remarkably modern sensibility, enouraging us to never judge people by their background or appearances.
Unafraid to read from any genre.
I was to read this book in college, got through a piece of it, but failed to finish it at the time. It's so nice to come back to it now, with the added patience and wisdom of adulthood, so that I now can appreciate it fully. Aside from being one of the first examples of the mystery/detective novel (one can easily see the Sgt. Cuff/Betteredge dynamic emulated later by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), it is incredibly funny and satirical, also. Drusilla Clack is one of the most hilarious, well-meaning buffoons in all of English literature!
I can't say enough about the narration of British actor Peter Jeffrey. He was so insightful in illuminating all the novel's great characters. There's a temptation with an epistolary novel to get a full cast together to read it, as when I read Dracula a few weeks ago. But this man was amazing at voicing all characters, male and female, old and young. I was confounded in trying to guess his age at the time of the recording!