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Generally considered as the first detective novel in the English language, "The Moonstone" is the story of a young woman named Rachel Verinder who inherits a large Indian diamond, the Moonstone, on her eighteenth birthday. At her eighteenth birthday party, Rachel wears the Moonstone for all to see, later that night the diamond is stolen and quickly an investigation ensues to discover the identity of the thief and recover the jewel. A genre defining novel, "The Moonstone" is a classic, one of Wilkie Collins best loved works.
Wilkie Collins was the son of the landscape painter William Collins. His godfather was Sir David Wilkie, another English painter. In 1841, Collins began an apprenticeship in the tea trade, but grew bored of the job and began writing stories. His first book, a historical novel set in fifth-century Rome, was lost; the second, a biography of his father, he published privately. In 1851, Collins met Charles Dickens. He began contributing to Dickens's magazine Household Words, and to the periodical All the Year Round. With Dickens, Collins shared an interest in the theater. His friends in the literary milieu also included Edward Lear, Oscar Wilde, George Meredith, and Thomas Hardy. The author of dozens of books, Collins was most proud of THE WOMAN IN WHITE--so proud, in fact, that he had his tombstone engraved: "Author of THE WOMAN IN WHITE."
"'The Moonstone' is frightfully interesting: isn't the detective prime? Don't say anything about the plot; for I have only read on to the end of Belteridge's narrative, so don't know anything about it yet."
"'The Moonstone' is the best and greatest of English detective novels....[It] maintains its interest and suspense at every moment."
"'The Moonstone' is the first and last of the detective novels, and I would like to ask the addicts what more has really been added to the genre since his time."
"[In] 'The Moonstone' the skill of construction is so exquisite, so complete, so masterly, that we follow the thread of the story with unflagging enjoyment and a perpetually changeful and delightful perplexity of conjecture as to what the upshot is to be; and when this upshot comes, it is all that sympathy could have desired, and more than ingenuity could have conceived...."
"[When readers] have read to the end, we recommend them to read the book over again from the beginning, and they will see...the carefully elaborate workmanship and the wonderful construction of the story; the admirable manner in which every circumstance and incident is fitted together, and the skill with which the secret is kept to the last....Few will read of the final destiny of 'The Moonstone' without feeling the tears rise in their eyes...."
"Taking everything into consideration, 'The Moonstone' is probably the finest detective story ever written. By comparison with its wide scope, its dovetailed completeness and the marvellous variety and soundness of its characterization, modern mystery fiction looks thin and mechanical. Nothing human is perfect, but 'The Moonstone' comes about as near perfection as anything of its kind can be."
From the Publisher
Franklin Blake is in love with Rachel Verinder. The gem he gives her, the moonstone, disappears, and the police cannot solve the crime. Eventually, Rachel spurns Franklin, and he goes abroad in an attempt to forget her and recover. When Franklin's father dies and Franklin returns to England, he resolves to win her back by solving the mystery of the moonstone. For many years, it was believed that Collins wrote this powerful and influential novel while under the influence of laudanum, but that myth has been largely debunked.
I ADDRESS these lines--written in India--to my relatives in England. My object is to explain the motive which has induced me to refuse the right hand of friendship tomy cousin, John Herncastle.