Ellie, not to be confused with that Ellie, or the other Ellie, is hosting a month-long readalong of Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, which is generally considered the first example of detective fiction. After reading other bloggers excitedly blogging and tweeting about this readalong, I trundled along to the library after lunch, and lo and behold, there were two copies sitting there in the classics section. Surely, it was meant to be!
|And the prize for the least-exciting edition of this book goes|
to the Everyman's Library edition. But it's what's inside that counts.
This is to be a very laid-back readalong, allowing an entire month to read the novel, updating once at the midway point around the 16th November, and once more at the end of the month. There will also be an ongoing twitter discussion of the book at #readwilkie.
Collins writes in his preface that this is a novel designed to "trace the influence of character on circumstance," promising a character-driven plot full of interesting, proactive people who do more than simply allow things to happen to them.
I'm only a couple of chapters in so far, but I am already enjoying the narration of Gabriel Betteridge, an elderly steward to a well-to-do family involved many years ago in a mystery surrounding a missing, allegedly cursed, Indian diamond. Betteridge is a warm, good-humoured narrator, constantly rambling off on tangents which flesh out the facts of the plot with depth of character and background, while being brought back on-topic by his daughter.
"In answer to an improvement on this notion, devised by myself, namely, that she should tell the story instead of me, out of her own diary, Penelope observes, with a fierce look and a red face, that her journal is for her own private eye, and that no living creature shall ever know what is in it but herself. When I inquire what this means, Penelope says, "Fiddlesticks!" I say, Sweethearts.