Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Moonstone 4: THAT'S IT

This post is part of a readalong. In fact, it's the last post, so it will contain ALL the spoilers.

I am happy and also sad.

(My emotions are in such a state that I'm not going to adhere to any sort of structure in this post, opting instead to yell my reactions at you.)

We did it! We solved the Moonstone! And you know what? We were right from the START. (Not really, but let's take credit for it anyway, shall we? We shall.) Mother effing freaking GODFREY. You cannot trust a guy who's so chummy with all the Clacks in London. Something is up, there. The fact that Franklin literally handed him the diamond does not make him any less scoundrelly. I would really like to know more about his secret life, secret house, and secret layday.

The reveal scene where Sergeant Cuff rips off the dead man's wig etc is MASTERFUL. The fantastic Gooseberry acted as our faithful commentator, because Franklin, he is too fragile for that shit. Also I'm sure he was still hungover from the opium, and you don't want to be looking at corpses with an opium stomach. And then the double reveal with the name in the letter and AH. So good.

And hey, look at that, by the end of it all we found our Marian-equivalent in terms of sheer stupendousness and ninja-like qualities: Gooseberry! Or, as I shall call him henceforth, Gooseberrrrrrrry! I love him and his crazy eyes. He, like Marian, is stronger than you expect, and stronger than many a man in the same situation. I REALLY love how Sergeant Cuff foretells Gooseberry's future as a genius detective.

"The suspects name is ... Abby something ..."

HEY. I just realized something. Some of Wilkie's best characters, certainly the ones I get most attached to, have some physical feature that makes them abnormal: Marian (unfortunate face), Ezra Jennings (cray-cray hair and unpopular skin colour), Gooseberry (googly eyes) ... NEED I GO ON? I need not. I think Wilkie, having an extraordinary feature himself, gave comparable features to his really special characters. And having those features allowed for character development (in Marian and Ezra, at least) that couldn't have happened otherwise. Because when you're beautiful the world treats you differently. I don't know. Thoughts? 

Oh, my pudding pops, this post could go on for ages. The opium experiment. Franklin and Rachel getting back together. The death of poor Ezra *SOB*. The clear romance between Ezra and Mr. Candy ("Kiss me!"). Most importantly, Wilkie gave the Moonstone back to the Indians.

Classy move, Wilkie.

All in all, a romping good time. Moar readalongs, for future! What's next, bloggerkins?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Moonstone 3: I have no idea what's going on.

Yada yada yada, this post is part of a readalong, yada yada yada, mega-spoilers ahead.



So, OK. Franklin definitely took the diamond. Unless he was wearing one of those Mission Impossible masks. But! I just! Do we believe him, being all confused about it? Insisting he hasn't since hawked it?

Before that, though, Mr. Bruff. Like the lawyer in The Woman in White, he is the boringest (though I seem to recall liking the lawyer in WiW more. Oh, you know why? He had a scene with Mr. Fairlie. This is why). But he dumps some information and brings Mr. Murthwaite back to us, so I'll allow it. Bruff and Murthwaite bring us up to speed on what's going on with the three Indians. More of the Indians! They're so mysterious. I hope one of them gets a huge speech before the end of this.

Bruff's narrative also confirms that Godfrey is, indeed, a scoundrel. He let Rachel out of their engagement so easily because, after perusing Lady Verinder's will, he saw that the measly yearly fortune they'd be receiving as income wouldn't be nearly enough to cover his scoundrelling needs.

And so on and so forth. STUFF STARTS A'HAPPENING: Franklin pulls Rosanna's hidden tin case out of the quicksand, all the while worrying that he'll pull Rosanna's dead body out with it. (But oh, you guys, things aren't looking good for Rosanna.


I worry she might really be dead. This is like [**Harry Potter spoiler, if such a thing is possible**] Sirius in Order of the Phoenix all over again. [I'm STILL upset he didn't pull a Gandalf.][**End of there's no way that's a spoiler.**) So Franklin pulls out the box (no Rosanna) and finds his incriminating nightgown as well as a letter that he promptly FORGETS ABOUT and puts in his pocket and I'm like READ THE FREAKING LETTER, FRANKLIN. We would have never had this problem with Betteredge. But he does read the letter eventually (with a little help from said Betteredge). I love that Rosanna thinks it's just Rachel's corset and confidence that makes her so appealing to these silly upper-class men. Anyway, poor Rosanna gets a bit rambley, but she does make it clear that she's certain Franklin took the diamond.

And then Rachel makes it EXCEEDINGLY clear that Franklin took the diamond. Amidst a great deal of talk about Franklin's "manhood" and the "unmanning" of said "manhood" (traditional manliness is very important to Franklin,

as it is to these gents)

Rachel describes the whole diamond-snatching scene.

Even though we supposedly know who took it, we're still no closer to solving the mystery of the Moonstone. And we've only got one week left!! Next week, next week we'll have answers. And Ezra Jennings will feature prominently in them, or I'll eat my hat. And I don't even HAVE a hat. 

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Attachments – Rainbow Rowell

This book, you guys. It's one to have at the ready for when your life is full of sads. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to reread it after I finish Room by Emma Donoghue, which I just started and is already really upsetting me. 

This review is a bit superfluous, seeing as Raych and Alice already HIGHLY recommended it and, really, what more do you need? But just in case, allow me to throw my frantic enthusiasm into the mix. Read this book, internets. It is full of happiness and unicorns. (Disclaimer: Contains no unicorns.)

Lincoln works at a newspaper as an Internet Security Officer. His job is to read employee emails that are flagged for inappropriate material, then send warnings to said naughty emailers. He comes across the emails of Beth and Jennifer, but they're so funny and so harmless that he can't bring himself to send them a warning. So the emails keep getting flagged, and Lincoln keeps reading them, even though he knows he's crossed that line from monitoring to creeping. I guess he forms ... attachments. 

But the nice thing is that Lincoln creeps in a very uncreepy way. And we want to keep reading Beth and Jennifer's emails anyway, so, creep on, Linc. 

I have a great deal of love for these ladies, and their friendship gives me the warm and fuzzies. This book, especially their emails, is full of underline worthy dialogue. My favourite:

<<Jennifer to Beth>> I was at the mall last night, walking around by myself, trying not to spend money, trying not to think about a delicious Cinnabon ... and I found myself walking by the Baby Gap. I've never been in a Baby Gap. So, I decided to duck in. On a lark.

<<Beth to Jennifer>> Right. On a lark. I'm familiar with those. So ...

<<Jennifer to Beth>> So ... I'm larking through the Baby Gap, looking at tiny capri pants and sweaters that cost more than ... I don't know, more than they should. And I get totally sucked in by this ridiculous, tiny fur coat. The kind of coat a baby might need to go to the ballet. In Moscow. In 1918. To match her tiny pearls.

And also, in a scene involving insufferable sorority girls refusing to eat bridal shower sandwiches painstakingly prepared by Beth:

<<Beth to Jennifer>> One of Kiley's bridesmaids actually said, "I never eat bread on the weekends. I save my carbs for partying."

<<Jennifer to Beth>> What kind of parties does she go to  cupcake parties?

<<Beth to Jennifer>> I think she meant beer.

<<Jennifer to Beth>> Oh, right.

All in all:

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Moonstone 2: Detective Fevah

This post is part of Reading Rambo's The Moonstone readalong, and so it contains ALL the spoilers. 

Let's be real, all I really want to talk about is Miss Clack. But first! The happenings.

"The Moonstone has served the Colonel's vengeance, Betteredge, by means which the Colonel himself never dreamt of!"


So, basically, the Verinder household is falling the heck apart. Cuff suspects Rachel and totally gives credence, even though he doesn't believe it's the case here, to Laura's theory of Rachel stealing her own jewel to pay for her super illegal Victorian abortion: "Sometimes, the money is wanted for purposes which I don't suspect in this case, and which I won't shock you by mentioning." Yeah.

Franklin is rejected by Rachel pretty harshly, considering the times, and the man CANNOT handle it.

R2D2 can sympathize.

So he goes off to "foreign parts," a la Hartright. Basically if a male protagonist in Wilkie's books is spurned in love in ANY way, he has to leave the country. It seems like where love is concerned, Wilkie makes men out to be snivelling ninnies while lady characters are like, "Ah, yeah. All in a day."

Well, except, perhaps, poor Rosanna Spearman. The evidence strongly suggests she's met her grave, as she predicted, in the Shivering Sands. But how easy would it have been for her to have walked off in the shallow water, leaving no footprints?! Also, she sounds like she was a pretty high-class thief back in London, pre-reformatory. I don't think her feelings for a squishy aristocrat would give her enough motivation to destroy herself. I say we haven't seen the last of Rosanna Spearman.

In the meantime, Betteredge hands us off to our next narrator, the delightful Miss Clack. I love this narrative with my whole heart, as did the readers of the time, according to the Wilks. Wilkie also tells us in his "Preface to a New Edition" that he dictated the Miss Clack narrative while bedridden with rheumatic gout. Meaning he was so, so high on opium during this whole business. 

Miss Clack's narrative is a pretty bold-faced critique of a very specific breed of righteous Christian that is unique to England (Clack's chosen publications "are not to be found in the literature of any other country in Europe") (at the time). It's nice because Wilkie sticks, I think, to criticizing the people, rather than the religion or God, so I can go ahead and enjoy how outright he makes her hypocrisy.

I would like to quote all the quotes, but I am at work and I didn't bring the book. But, I mean, you've read it. You remember the awesome. Now! On to more Drusilla goodness! She's no Marian but she might just be The Moonstone's Mr. Fairlie.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Moonstone 1: Or How Robinson Crusoe is the Greatest Ever

This post is part of a readalong, which means I will likely spoil the entire book, entirely. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Our kindly narrator for this first section is Gabriel Betteredge — Lady Verinder's house steward — and he is just the greatest. I’m no expert on British culture, but he feels like the most Victorianly British man of all time. "We had our breakfast — whatever happens in a house, robbery or murder, it doesn't matter, you must have your breakfast." A sensible man.

Merry and Pippin would approve.

Our Betteredge has some very distinct ideas about women and class and foreignness. His description of Mr. Franklin repeats and repeats how his foreign education has "coloured" him unfavourably, sullying his Britishness. It's funny how The Moonstone can be racist, sexist, and classist in most every sentence so far but, delivered by Betteredge (that old, harmless goof), my reaction is just "Lulz, oh Betteredge." Tricky, that.

I haven’t met a Marian representative in the story so far; could it perhaps be Rachel? She's not exactly as level headed, or really at all as awesome as our Marian. But she does have, as Betteredge reports it, that one fabulous flaw: independence. "She judged for herself, as few women of twice her age judge in general; never asked your advice; never told you beforehand what she was going to do; never came with secrets and confidences to anybody, from her mother downwards."

That's why the lady is a tramp.

My favourite character at this point is Sergeant Cuff, the wizard detective from London, with his love of roses and his hate of gravel. Also, can we talk about how much Wilkie is playing with names in this book? Sergeant Cuff: handcuffs and policing and junk. Gabriel Betteredge: same initials as Great Britain (bit of a stretch?). Dr. Candy: pretty much Dr. Drugs, let’s be real. It’s like he’s set up the novel as a bit of a pantomime, and I really, really like it.

But my question to you is, what do we make of Rosanna Spearman? Do we trust her? And what's going on with Rachel's sudden anger at Franklin? Does Franklin have a first name? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.

NOW. I'm a tad later than I meant to be writing this post because I wrote this post on how Dickens and Wilkie maybe didn't see eye to eye on the whole India thing. I wanted to make sure I finished writing this post before I read all of yours, and they've been looking at me from my Google Reader all the livelong day. Now it's time to read and comment on ALL the posts! It's my favourite part.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Dickens, Collins, and the Tricky Subject of India

Before we hop into our first Moonstone readalong post, Alice has asked me to say some words on how Wilkie felt one way about India and Dickens felt VERY MUCH ANOTHER WAY. According to my introduction, which is on paper and therefore obviously true,

That's right, Oxford WORLD'S CLASSICS. I believe it.

Collins joined Dickens's Household Words magazine in 1856 as a staff writer. The Great Mutiny, also known as India's First War of Independence, occurred in 1857. It began with a mutiny of sepoys (Indian soldiers) in the East India Company's army. Dickens's outrage at this mutiny went beyond "civilized bounds." And then my introduction quotes some Dickens quotes that are, obviously, quite distasteful. Dickens used Household Words to "thunder out his genocidal anger and expected his subordinates to fall into step with their editor." He published 25 articles on the subject of India and "treacherous Indians." Collins wrote an article called "Sermon for Sepoys" and co-wrote a patriotic story called "The Perils of Certain English Prisoners" with Dickens. It's noted that, especially in "Sermon," Collins is far less bloodthirsty than his editor, though he does generally follow his instructions as well as the magazine's line.

Collins's outright views on India are not recorded, but his accounting of the Storming of Seringapatam does seem to paint the British troops in a rather barbarous light. His comments on the subject are subtle and easy to read into, and none were enough to bring the full wrath of Dickens on his head.

Although. Dickens reviewed and closely edited The Moonstone six months before it began its serial run in All the Year Round, and he gave his sub-editor W.H. Wills a very favourable review of the story. A year later, as the novel drew to a close, Dickens quite reversed his opinion, saying "The construction is wearisome beyond endurance, and there is a vein of obstinate conceit in it that makes enemies of readers." People have puzzled over Dickens's reversal of opinion, but my introduction suggests it may have something to do with Wilkie's preface to 1868 complete edition. Dickens wouldn't have seen this until he received his early, complimentary copy of the full story, which was to be published by a different company. Meaning, Dickens had no control over what Collins wrote. In the preface, Collins speaks of the famous Koh-i-Noor (or Mountain of Light) diamond, which was taken from India and sits in the Queen's crown.

It's the huge one in the middle there.

In the preface, Collins says "The famous Koh-i-Noor is also supposed to have been one of the sacred gems of India; and, more than this, to have been the subject of a prediction, which prophesied certain misfortune to the persons who should divert it from its ancient uses." The Queen of England cursed. The jewel in the crown tainted. Collins was sayin' some stuff. My introduction doubts, however, that Collins was writing The Moonstone as an anti-Imperial text. He presents too many viewpoints, literally and politically, for us to say for sure what his opinion was.

Sutherland, John. Introduction. The Moonstone. By Wilkie Collins. 1868. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. vii-xxix.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Moonstone Readalong - Introductorama

Greetings, internets! It's time for another Reading Rambo Wilkie-a-thon!

And there was much rejoicing.

This time we'll be we'll be reading another of his serialized sensations: The Moonstone, hailed by T.S. Eliot as "the first and greatest of English detective novels." Not to over-hype it, or anything. 

If this is your first visit to the Enthusiast, welcome! Thanks for coming! My name is Kayleigh, I'm a fledgling copy editor, and I work in admin at a local magazine. I like commas, TV, and long walks in the rain. Well, not too long because, you know, TV. I participated in Alice's Woman in White readalong because I had already read it and it seemed like a lovely, straightforward way to get this blog a'rolling. I'm participating in this one because the first one was SO MUCH FUN and you are all fantastic. Those are the reasons.

I read The Moonstone for school and, though I've completely forgotten it, I do know I enjoyed it. Wilkie is a master of the serial format and, according to my copy's introduction, had readers clambering at the offices of All Year Round, in which it was published, on publications days. Like Victorian Twihards. Wilkie could rock a cliff hanger. 

He could also rock a shockingly large forehead.

They should call that thing FIVEhead! HaHA!
(Did someone use that last time? I feel like someone used that last time.)

And do you know what he housed in that forehead? Awesomeness. And opium. Lots of opium.

In conclusion, Van Der Forehead.