Saturday, November 25, 2023
Monday, November 20, 2023
Tuesday, November 7, 2023
The Victorian novel is a favorite genre of mine and I am pleased to say that in the past eight years I have read some of the great novels from this period. I had yet to read Wilkie Collins however and I was torn. He is best known for two classic novels: The Woman In White and The Moonstone. I went with The Moonstone (1868) and I am happy with my choice.
The Moonstone begins in 1799 when a British officer Colonel John Herncastle while serving in India steals a precious yellow diamond adorning a statue of the Hindu God of the Moon. Herncastle is a bad character who murders three of the Hindu priests guarding the yellow diamond and he takes the gem back to England.
Fast forward and it's 1848. John Herncastle is a an elderly spiteful man and his life has not gone well. He has never been able to shake the rumors of what he did as a young officer in India. He has no friends and his sister, the wealthy Lady Verinder, refuses to see him. Herncastle is furious and writes out his will stating that after his death the yellow diamond will be given to his niece Rachel Verinder, Lady Verinder's daughter, on her 18th birthday. Herncastle is giving the diamond to Rachel not to make amends. He knows that possessing the diamond comes with a curse and so it's his way of getting back at his family.
Herncastle dies and Rachel's eighteenth birthday arrives. Rachel is thrilled to receive the diamond not knowing it's backstory. But her mother and her cousin Franklin Blake do know or they suspect something and they are worried. Also three mysterious Indian men have recently been seen walking the grounds of the Verinder estate.
On the night of Rachel's party all her friends are there including two men who are competing for Rachel's hand in marriage, her cousin Franklin Blake and her other cousin Godfrey Ablewhite. Apparently in the 19th century you could marry your cousin.
Rachel wears the diamond on her dress at the party. It's a festive evening and then the next morning the diamond is missing, a detective is called in and things go downhill with alot of unhappiness for the characters involved. The yellow diamond (the moonstone) does have a curse attached to it but not in the way I originally thought.
It's not that people in posession of the diamond come down with a fatal illness or fall down a flight of stairs. But rather once the diamond goes missing people start suspecting each other, tempers flare, engagements are broken off and in one tragic case a young housemaid of the Verinders with a past that included prison for theft is afraid she will be blamed and though she is not responsible it ends tragically.
The Moonstone is told in the form of a number of first person narrators. My favorite narrator is the butler Gabrielle Betteredge who is certain that all of life's answers can be found in the pages of his well worn copy of Robinson Crusoe. My least favorite character and narrator was Drusilla Clack, a busy body who is constantly forcing her religious pamphlets on friends and relatives. In fact the one complaint I have about The Moonstone is that the eight chapters narrated by Drusilla distracted from the story and should have been omitted. Doing so would have tightened up the book in my opinion.
But otherwise I enjoyed The Moonstone. Along with Bleak House it is considered to be one the first British Detective novels. It is also a romance and I found The Moonstone to be a classic worthy of praise.
Friday, October 13, 2023
My thoughts - The Warden (1855) by Anthony Trollope is the first novel in his acclaimed Chronicles of Barsetshire series. There are six books in the series, all set in the fictional English cathedral town of Barchester. And having read Trollope's excellent stand alone novel The Way We Live Now, I came to The Warden with high expectations. The Warden is 113 pages and so I was sure I would have the book finished in three days tops.
But the Warden took me longer to complete than I anticipated. I struggled to finish it actually. I think it's partly because I am not a focused reader these days. Increasingly I read ten pages of a book then I'm scrolling the internet or turning on the news, picking up another novel and that's not a good way to read. I need to start committing to a book because otherwise I lose the rhythm.
That said, if The Warden had held my interest I would have been able to finish it in three days. It's one of Anthony Trollope's earliest novels and maybe his powers as a writer weren't yet at the heights they would reach in his later classics. The story itself didn't grab me nor did the characters but I understand that changes as one reads deeper into the Barchester series.
The Warden is the first book I have now read from my Victober list and I am hoping to get to Moonstone by Wilkie Collins and the Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte Mary Young before the month is through but to do so I will resolve to read thirty pages a night and focus.
Monday, September 25, 2023
Thursday, September 14, 2023
And at the center of each of Penny's novels is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache tasked with solving the crime. A mystery series rises or falls based on its lead detective and Armand Gamache with his dedication to justice, knowledge of history, the arts, human psychology, kind but tough when he needs to be is definitely a detective worth following.
Thursday, September 7, 2023
Here in Florida we are all tracking Hurricane Lee. I'm worried. It will be a category 5 soon and everything hinges on it making a northward turn on Tuesday and therfore no landfall as I understand. But no one can say for sure. The maps I am seeing right now are scary.
But on a positive note I was at the library today and checked out five books I am looking forward to reading:
So a pretty good book haul today. Stay safe and happy reading!