I've finally finished The Moonstone; I don't know why it took me so very long. But as I read it in small bits, I was able to enjoy it longer! I thought it was great fun, and the solution to the theft suitably 'sensational' for a Victorian thriller. The best part of it was the ability of Wilkie Collins to delineate each character so well. The multiple narrative voices were quite distinctive. I must admit to a fondness for Gabriel Betteredge, an aged family retainer with a prediliction for his pipe and for Robinson Crusoe. His storytelling was wonderfully done - I enjoyed his asides, especially the one in which he says : "Nota bene: A drop of tea is to a woman's tongue what a drop of oil is to a wasting lamp."
And Miss Clack was simply hilarious. He was mocking a certain kind of self-righteous Christian woman, and he had it so spot on. The image of Miss Clack throwing tracts in at cab windows made me laugh out loud. And her justification for continuing to try to force her Aunt Verinder to read improving literature (ie: "Satan among the sofa cushions", he he) is one of the best explanations of fanaticism that I have read. She says, "Once self-supported by conscience... the true Christian never yields ...We are above reason;...we feel with nobody's hearts but our own...for we are the only people who are always right." [Substitute for "Christian" in this quote any fanatic, whether religious, political or intellectual]. Wilkie Collins was so prescient.
My next Collins read is Armadale, as part of the Chunkster Challenge. Can't wait to get to that one.
Library patron: "What are you reading right now?"
Me: "Oh, just some Collins."
Library patron: "Jackie?"
Me: "No, Wilkie."