Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Whatever happens in a house, robbery or murder, it doesn't matter, you must have your breakfast

Post one of the actual Moonstone readalong. Or rather, first post once we have all read the first section and can really appreciate what Wilkie is doing. And it's so exciting. Heads up, this is going to contain all sorts of spoilers and probably non sequitors.

The story begins very Indian Jones-esque as we learn about the theft of a sacred Hindu (Hindooooo) stone called the Moonstone and you can practically hear someone yelling
or temple
But the Moonstone, a diamond the size of a bird's egg, does not stay in the temple. Instead it ends up in the hands of a Colonel Herncastle, who's sort of a douche. If you didn't get that from the whole "stealing sacred stone" thing. His family hates him and refuses to have anything to do with him. When he dies he leaves the stone to his niece Rachel. Is it a peace offering? Is it to pass the curse to the family that hates him? Who knows? I don't yet. But I'm so excited to find out!

As is Wilkie's style (which I can say after reading only 1 Collins book) the story is told as a set of narratives from different characters, writing out everything they can remember about the incident. Betteredge is the head servant (I guess, I don't understand servant hierarchy) and we get to hear his side of the story first. He meets up with Mr. Franklin Blake, Rachel's cousin (and suitor..eww) who is bringing the stone to the family. He was followed by a trio Indian jugglers and a little British boy that is able to see the future, so long as he has a special ink poured into his hand and the jugglers (actually Brahmin priests!) say the proper incantation and do you hear how amazing this is??

Mr. Franklin doesn't give Rachel the stone right away. It's supposed to be presented to her on her 18th birthday and Mr. Franklin knows all about the curse on the stone and about the jugglers that had shown up before he arrived. He and Betteredge decide that the thing to do is put the stone in the bank and see what happens. If nothing out of the ordinary occurs, it's probably safe to give it to Rachel. Apparently future seeing random Indian jugglers and their little British boy is old hat for this house. Rachel and Mr. Franklin spend a lot of time decorating a door, and please someone tell me if that is code for something else? Or implied something else? Were they really just painting a door for a month plus? Anyway, the only person acting strangely is one of the maids/servants Rosanna Spearman, but she always acts strangely (staring a quicksand that is apparently right near the Verinder homestead) so yeah, all normal here.

Rachel and Mr. Franklin finish painting the door just in time for Rachel's birthday and since the Indian guys haven't shown up again Mr. Franklin decides it's alright to give her the giant diamond. She gets it and wears it  and there's much oohing and ahhing. And then naturally the next morning the ring is GONE
Dramatic hamster
After a misstep with a useless detective Sergeant Cuff is brought in and he is wonderful and very Sherlock Holmes-esque except he loves roses instead of opium. Or he loves both but so far he's only told us about the roses. I guess since Cuff came before Holmes, it's really the other way but saying Holmes is Sergeant Cuff-esque makes no sense.

I have spent so much time and I haven't even gone into some of the best things Betteredge says. I'm going to leave it to everyone else to go into that but instead I'll save a couple of my favorite quotes so far

"To make things worse, [Mr. Franklin] had promised to be tall, and had not kept his promise."

"I follow the plan adopted by the Queen in opening Parliament -- namely, the plan of saying much the same thing regularly every year."

"Betteredge, your edge is better than ever" This is actually from Mr. Franklin to Betteredge, and I'd like to think that line was one of the ones written while Wilkie was in his opium haze.

Title quote from page 39, location 1363

Collins, Wilkie. The Moonstone. Public domain books, published 2012. Kindle edition. Originally published 1868