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Wilkie Collins - any novel

Wilkie Collins - any novel

Seven people had chosen to read The Moonstone, but there were also three other titles which had been read.

The Woman in White had been enjoyed by Beryl, but felt it was a book very much of the mid Victorian era, in that the wealthy, particularly wealthy men, could get away with almost anything.  She thought some of the characters to be quite unbelievable.

Jan had read Basil, Collins' second novel, a lively Gothic story written in the first person.  She found the unlikely coincidence, which was the basis of the plot, to be off putting. She also felt that so much more could be learnt about Victorian life from an author like Mrs Gaskell, than from this author.

Millie had read No Name, a novel about two children who discover from a will that they are illegitimate, following the deaths of their parents.  She felt it was very wordy and typical of the time but thought it was worth reading and she really enjoyed the author's use of language.

There was considerable discussion about The Moonstone.  This is a tale of love, theft and murder, first published in 1868 and it is considered to be the book which inspired the genre of detective fiction which remains highly popular today.  The use of first person narration, also used in The Woman in White, allows the saga to unfold in an unhurried and at times rambling way which some of our group found tedious.  However, we were generally agreed that the wonderful use of language and entertaining asides made it impossible to skip parts of the narrative.  There were also interesting insights into Victorian values and attitudes which considerably enhanced the story.  The first two narrators in particular were beautifully drawn and convincing, but it was felt that this was not true of Rachel, who inherited the valuable moonstone on her eighteenth birthday.  She was a strange and unlikely personality for one of the key characters in the plot.  One of our members suggested that nowadays Rachel would have simply confided in a girlfriend and the whole mystery could have been solved very rapidly!   

 

Review by Barbara Marsh