Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆
I address these lines – written in India – to my relatives in England.
When Rachel Verinder receives a gift of an astonishing yellow diamond from her bitter old uncle for her eighteenth birthday, she has no idea that the stone brings great danger with it. When the diamond goes missing during the night the ensuing investigations gradually bring to light the sinister history of the jewel and the passions and plots of those close to Rachel.
Well, this was quite a surprise. I really enjoyed this book. It has a good mystery, it reads nicely and it has some good characters and one really great one.
At the core of the novel is the Moonstone, a giant diamond. The diamond was stolen long ago from its shrine in India and then stolen again by Rachel’s uncle from the treasury of an Indian city he sacked. It is followed by danger, so naturally, out of spite for his sister, the uncle leaves this dangerous legacy to Rachel.
When the stone goes missing, everybody is suspect and secrets are revealed in the course of the novel. The mystery of who stole the diamond and how it disappeared in the first place is gripping enough to move you forward through the drier parts of the novel.
The novel itself is told by different narrators, each contributing his or her part to the story of the vanished diamond. I absolutely adored the characterizations in this novel. We have the slightly flighty Franklin Blake, love interest to Rachel. We have the proper lawyer, we have the sad opium addict and the holier-than-though aunt. And those are just the narrators.
“Godfrey, stay where you are. Mamma, there is not the least reason to be alarmed about me. Clack, you’re dying to hear the end of it – I won’t faint, expressly to oblige you.
Those were the exact words she used – taken down in my diary the moment I got home. But, oh, don’t let us judge! My Christian friends, don’t let us judge!
We also have Rachel, who, for the most part, is really great. I don’t get her weird reluctance to say stuff that would clear everything up, that part was annoying, but overall, she’s a good character.
But the best character of all is, hands down, Gabriel Betteredge. I loved his narrative, it’s so full of humour. I loved the way other characters described him. He’s old, he’s been with the family all his life and he doesn’t hold back with his opinion – dressed in all necessary proprieties of course. Here he is when being told to redo the house in the exact same way it was on the night of the theft (he’s not a fan of the idea):
“But, as to Mr. Franklin’s bedroom (if that is to be put back as to what it was before), I want to know who is responsible for keeping it in a perpetual state of littter, no matter how often it may be set right – his trousers here, his towels there, and his French novels everywhere. I say, who is responsible for untidying the tidiness of Mr Franklin’s room, him or me?”
Mr. Blake declared that he would assume the whole responsibility with the greatest pleasure. Betteredge obstinately declined to listen to any solution of the difficulty, without first referring it to my sanction and approval. I accepted Mr. Blake’s proposal; and Betteredge made a last entry in the pocket-book to that effect.
I absolutely adored him – despite his rather unflattering views of women in general and his late wife in particular.
Interesting mystery and some really cool characters.