The Moonstone (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The Moonstone (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Alongside Edgar Allan Poe in America, Britain’s Wilkie Collins stands as the inventor of the modern detective story. The Moonstone introduces all the ingredients: a homey, English country setting, and a colorfully exotic background in colonial India; the theft of a fabulous diamond from the lovely heroine; a bloody murder and a tragic suicide; a poor hero in love with the heroine but suspected of the crime, who can’t remember anything about the night the jewel was stolen; assorted friends, relatives, servants, a lawyer, a doctor, a sea captain—suspects, all; and, most essentially, a bumbling local policeman and a brilliant if eccentric London detective. Adding spice to the recipe are unexpected twists, a bit of dark satire, a dash of social comment, and an unusual but effective narrative structure—eleven different voices relate parts of the tale, each revealing as much about himself (and, in one case, herself) as about the mystery of the missing Moonstone.

Filled with suspense, action, and romance, The Moonstone is as riveting and intoxicating today as it was when it first appeared more than a century ago.

Joy Connolly teaches in the Classics Department at New York University. Her recent research includes the history of rhetoric and political thought, and the relationship of literature and ethics. She writes book reviews for the New York Times and other publications.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593083229
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 08/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 12,500
Product dimensions: 7.94(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.38(d)

About the Author

Date of Birth:

December 8, 1824

Date of Death:

September 23, 1889

Place of Birth:

London, England

Place of Death:

London, England


Studied law at Lincoln¿s Inn, London

Read an Excerpt

From Joy Connolly’s Introduction to The Moonstone

“King of inventors” was the title given to Wilkie Collins at the height of his powers, and popular opinion has since ranked The Moonstone (1868), rivaled only by The Woman in White (1859–1860), as Collins’s greatest masterpiece of invention. Mystery buffs know it as the first detective novel in English; fans of nineteenth-century literature prize its blend of sensational thrill, social criticism, and romance. Set by turns in the country comfort of Victorian squiredom, London townhouses, seashore lodgings, and in exotic landscape of India, the novel retains the page-turning suspensefulness that captivated its first generation of readers. “A very curious story,” wrote Charles Dickens, Collins’s close friend and mentor, “wild, and yet domestic—with excellent character in it, great mystery. . . . It is prepared with extraordinary care, and has every chance of being a hit” (Letters of Charles Dickens, vol. 3, p. 660; see “For Further Reading”).

A hit it certainly was. The story first appeared in 1868 as a thirty-two part serial, beginning on January 1 and ending August 8, in Dickens’s weekly magazine All the Year Round. In the summer, as the final segments unveiled the solution to the mystery of the theft of the Verinder family’s Indian heirloom, avid readers packed the streets outside the magazine’s offices in the hope of securing copies, and bets were placed on the outcome of the plot. Sales records of the magazine, as well as the hardbound edition, and the popularity of the stage play that quickly followed, suggest that fans were not disappointed. An appreciative reviewer for the London Times declared Collins an unrivaled master in the business of sensational novel-writing. Geraldine Jewsbury, a well-respected critic and also a friend of Dickens, praised Collins’s achievement in stronger terms. Her admiration for his sympathetic portrayal of characters on the margins of society, especially women, the poor, and people of color, in part anticipates the novel’s appeal to the diverse readership of the present day. As for Dickens, whether from an honest change of heart or sheer jealousy (The Moonstone outsold Great Expectations), he ultimately dismissed the book, complaining sourly in a private letter that its construction was “wearisome beyond endurance.”

Today, as then, Dickens is contradicted by a host of admiring readers. Unfolding in twelve separate voices in fourteen blocks of narrative during which the great yellow diamond of the title is stolen no less than four times, the novel’s construction is an extraordinary feat. The expertly timed switch from voice to voice (a favorite novelistic device of Collins) gives a democratic, upstairs-downstairs feel to the book. Collins’s sensitivity to social injustice, a lifelong theme of his work, makes itself felt in the contrasting perspectives of the intensely sympathetic, tormented Doctor Ezra Jennings, and the cheerfully self-absorbed Franklin Blake. Blake is the cousin and suitor of Rachel Verinder, heir to the stolen Moonstone, and it is he who collects the narratives more than two years after the diamond’s theft, “in the interests of truth, to be placed on record in writing”—a fictional echo of Collins’s own habitual protestations that his novels were based on real events and careful research.

Staking claim to authenticity is a staple of Collins’s professional specialty, the Victorian subgenre of sensational fiction—denounced by high-minded clergymen and critics as a corrupting influence on public morals, and embraced by the British middle class for its racy pleasures. Sensational fiction was part of the historic explosion in mass culture that emerged in its modern form in the Victorian era. Industrialization and urbanization, the double-edged achievements of mid-nineteenth-century Europe and America, were opening up unprecedented stretches of leisure time that could be whiled away in zoos, public gardens, Turkish baths, music halls, amateur sports, charity work, literary societies, lectures on everything from magnetism to the causes of poverty, and reading. Novels like Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret and Ellen Wood’s St. Martin’s Eve terrified and entertained readers with the tragic undersides of this modern society—especially the workhouse, brothel, and lunatic asylum—and with the hidden crimes of domestic life, from abuse and illegitimacy to suicide and murder.

More often than not, these tales are moralistic in the simplest sense, making the bad end badly and the good end well, and though the bad occasionally escape the reach of human law, the authors make it clear that they will not escape God’s. If they strike modern tastes as more exploitative than improving, it’s worth recalling that sensational tales helped make everyday human suffering a central concern of British popular culture. Unlike their modern counterparts in the televised melodrama or pulp novel, many of them back real and realizable goals of social reform. Collins’s The Woman in White is often said to lead the genre, with its chilling portrayal of the prison-like terrors of the madhouse and the desolation of unmarried mothers and illegitimate children. The Moonstone, though it owes much to sensational literature and was certainly marketed as such, is more difficult to classify. Readers tend to hail it instead as anticipating a new mode of writing, as T. S. Eliot did when he called The Moonstone “the first, longest, and greatest” of all English detective novels—a sentiment echoed by mystery writers Dorothy Sayers, P. D. James, and many others since.

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The Moonstone (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 119 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very entertaining book and despite how long ago it was written seemed more modern at times than it actually is. The book is written in a series of letters that give each character's viewpoint of the story and how it progressed concerning the Moonstone. I only found one character's account a bit trying but I think that was the point as she was a most pompous and sanctimonious individual. Well written.
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
O My Gosh. You just love the narrators in the story. Especially sweet, sweet Betteredge!! At first in the mystery i started to hate Lady Verinder and thought that Sergeant Cuff was figuring out the mystery when BAM!!! Sergeant Cuff, the GREAT Sergeant Cuff, had it all wrong!!! It made you want to read on and on and on! But at the same time if you had to stop reading you sort of could-like even though it was soooo annoying as to find it all out you weren't always thinking about it once you had to stop reading it. And then only to think that the actual person who had stolen it was that certain person(totally can't say who!) was astounding!! I mean, they mentioned suspicions towards the person and i myself had had some too but not strong ones so it was it was still sort of hard to believe, and not only that but the person in which the stone was passed onto was also unexpected--and that person's true character was yet also surprising!Gosh, i LOVE THIS BOOK. And heck yeah!!! You better darn read it!! This book is my wonderful treasure---My Moonstone!!
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Moonstone is a long and very well written and presented detective mystery which failed to engage me very much: A well written tale about people who are all decidedly uninteresting. I could have put Moonstone down at any given point and not thought about it further. Collins's Moonstone lacks both the genius, flare and humor of Dickens and the warm, personal and utterly engaging style of Conan-Doyle's Holmes stories. Consider the three stars "Style Points".
Nicole Sheldon More than 1 year ago
I love novels from this era, but at points it was difficult to keep reading. I had to remind myself that Collins is the godfather of mystery crime novels and they have come a long way since this one! Knowing that about this story gives you great appreciation for his skill and inspiration this has given others to push the envelope a little farther.
var More than 1 year ago
Reading this mystery was a pleasant surprise. The plot had all the undertones of England in transition. The characters were unforgetable. The B&N presentation was excellent. Thank you very much for offering this very enjoyable and quick reading novel.
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.
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.
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found Wilkie Collins quite by accident on the B&N online shop...well, what a wonderful find. Look for some of his other books.
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.
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.
souleswanderer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I try to convince myself that reading classics is good for me, just as eating spinach is supposed to be healthy. I would rather not eat spinach, unless it's completely hidden in a burrito and adds color. Unfortunately I can't do that with a book. The burritos generally have enough fiber without added pages. I muddled through this, enjoyed about 1/20th of it, and overall I could have saved myself the slogging boredom by having read a good synopsis. Maybe it's self-inflicted punishment for not having sat through many literature classes and thinking I have missed something. Not. Only the time I spent reading this.
novelrdr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An entertaining story by one of the earliest mystery writers.
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really do enjoy Wilkie Collins! It is no coincidence that his work somewhat resembles Charles Dickens¿ novels because they were good friends and Dickens was a mentor to the younger Collins. I sometimes think of Collins as Dickens ¿lite¿ ¿much quicker reads than Dickens and almost as much fun. The Moonstone is a classic mystery story with some exotic overtones. The story is told from different points of view as persons involved in the events leading to and succeeding the theft of the Moonstone have been asked to write down their parts of the story after the facts. One of the delights of the novel is how Collins brilliantly lets the characters reveal themselves with their qualities and quirks as they relate their views of the events. Miss Clack is the best example of this type of revelation¿a classic view of someone who has no clue how she is perceived by others. My only regret in this book is that I would have liked to have gotten more in depth revelations about Rachel, the women who received the Moonstone as a gift. She seemed to be a strong person, similar to Marian Halcombe in [Woman in White], and she certainly was headstrong. But we never really get a chance to know her beyond her reactions to the events. Another intriguing character in the novel is the British detective Sergeant Cuff. A foot note in my book says that this police officer was modeled on the famous Scotland Yard detective Mr. Jonathon Wicher. The next book on my list to read is [The Suspicions of Mr. Wicher], the story of the case that ruined his career. Bottom line: An exciting and intelligently written mystery from the Victorian era, this book should appeal to lovers of good literature, Victorian novels, and/or great mysteries.
lucybrown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great absorbing book, more so for its brilliant and wry portraits than for the mystery itself. While I did not find the mystery as spine-tingling and mysterious as Woman in White, I loved this book nearly as much as that. The character studies are really well done, and at time poignant,Ezra Jennings; and often amusing, Miss Clack; and sometimes both, Gabriel Betteredge. While tackling a well crafted mystery, Collins attempts to analyze the problems of prejudice and imperialism. His treatment of those outside of the class system or on the lower ends of it is intelligent and rarely stoops to the pathos of Dickens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great characters, storytelling and more.
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