Pining for the West

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins | November 23, 2009

I’ve been trailing our copy of The Moonstone around for over 33 years and six house moves and over 500 miles then back again. So it was definitely overdue for some real attention.

The book was a school prize which my husband won for first place in science in 1967 but he claims that he has never read it.

It is basically a mystery story which was first published in 1868. There was a bit of a boom in detective stories around about the end of the First World War and at that time the genre began to be seriously discussed.

One well known novelist had the opinion that The Moonstone was probably the finest detective novel ever written. As you can imagine that gave Wilkie Collins’s books a great boost. Until then he had been seen as nothing special and quite overlooked.

Apparently Collins didn’t regard it as a mystery novel – he said “The attempt made, here, is to trace the influence of character on circumstances. The conduct pursued, under a sudden emergency, by a young girl supplies the foundation on which I have built this book.”

There is quite a lot of humour in the book which I must admit I hadn’t been expecting so that was a nice surprise.

At one point I asked my husband if he was sure that he had never read the book as a youngster, he denied that he ever had but I have my doubts.

When Mr. Betteredge decided to get married to his housekeeper it was because it would be more economical for him. As a housekeeper he had to pay her so much each week, but as a wife she had to give him her services for nothing.

That attitude fairly well matches my husband’s – or is that just the way with all men.

Most of the comedy is provided by Miss Clack who is a very enthusiastic Christian who spends a lot of her time trying to get people to read the tracts which she scatters liberally around the place. She reminded me very much of born again Christians who used to live next door to us.

All in all, I quite enjoyed The Moonstone although it isn’t a book which I would want to read again. Too many books to try to get through anyway and I’m looking forward to The Woman in White, of which I have heard good reports.



  1. > I quite enjoyed The Moonstone although it isn’t a book which I would want to read again.

    My feeling exactly, though I’m in the middle of the movie with Greg Wise and Keely Hawes and enjoying it quite a bit.

    Miss Clack is kind of like Austen’s Miss Bates and Mary Musgrove–funnier on paper than she could possibly be in real life!

    Comment by JaneGS — November 23, 2009 @ 11:37 pm

    • You’re right, the god botherers of the world are a bit of a nightmare especially if you happen to live next door to them. We had hymns yelled at us through the wall at 6 a.m.

      Comment by piningforthewest — November 24, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

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