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Aoife

Witty Little Knitter

I read fantasy, crime, true crime, lgbt-romance and books written by my favourite comedians. List not necessarily complete.
Sometimes I write for Bibliodaze

Currently reading

Stephen and Matilda
Jim Bradbury
Progress: 52/262 pages
Krieg und Frieden
Michael Grusemann, Leo Tolstoy
Progress: 579/1024 pages
The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins This is a great puzzle. A great story it is not, or to be fair: it was not for me. For that I had too much problems with certain aspects, first of all the narrators. There are lots. The book consits of eight narratives (and some additional police-reports) told by six different people. Sometimes these people met other people who tell them long stories or they recieve long letters...it all makes Wuthering Heights look really uncomplicated. I disgress (which incidentially is what most of narrators in this book do). This structure is neccessary because this way you only know what the narrators knew at the point of the narration. If this book had a narrator telling the events chronologically it would be much less interesting and I certainly wouldn't have finished it.The first (and longest) narrative is told by Gabriel Batteridge, the servant of the family the events in the book center around. Batteridge is one of the most annoying and infuriating fictional characters I have ever come across (and belive me, that means something). He thinks he knows everything best, he feels superior to everybody (especially women), including the reader and he loves Robinson Crusoe, a fact which he will remind the dear reader of, on about every third page.Now that type of character, appears often in older novel, mostly as a type of comic relief-character who shouldn't be taken seriously and I don't doubt that Batteridge also isn't supposed to be taken 100% serious. Here's the thing: Even then I don't find him (or any of these characters) particularly funny. You might have a different sense of humor than I do but would you want to read an almost 200 page-long narrative by such a person? I very defenitely don't. It wasn't just that he was an unlikeable narrator, he even overpowered the actual story. I needed about 100 pages to realize "Hey, this is an interesting story. I really want to know what happened to the moonstone." because all the time I was so busy being angry about Batteridge.What kept me reading, was a) the above-mentioned realisation "Wow, that's an good detective-story." and b) constantly telling myself that he after all only narrated 200 pages and perhaps the next narrator would be less annoying.The next narrator turned out to be one Drussilla Clack, a fanatic Christian who constantly tries to missionarise every single person she meets. Now this was the point where seriously considered throwing the book against a wall (with great force) or possibly banging my head against the nearest wall. Eventually I settled for checking table of contents to find out how long her narrative was going to be. Fortunately it wasn't that long, and anyway I had fought my way through half of it, I wouldn't give up now. Again a disclaimer: She certainly again a character we shouldn't take too serious...and again I fail to be amused by religious fanatism paired with massive stupidity.It gets better afterwards. None of the remeining narrators really stand out, not even Franklin Blake who tells tha major part of the remeining story, they're all fairly normal or tell such a short part that they don't have really time to annoy you. Yes they are possiblya bit boring but I defenitely prefered boring to what happened before. Now I could finally concentrate on the actual story again, which just got more and more fascinating.There was just this one thing:The author taunting the readerThere is nothing I hate more than the author rubbing in my face that he knows something I don't but he's not going to tell me immediately...or anywhere on the next X pages.Let me give a short summary of the worst (but not only) occurance of that rather annoying habit:Character A: Oh I really need to know what happened to the Moonstone, but telling the exact reasons why I need to know this are so embarrassing that I can impossibly tell them. Character B *mentions that he has information that A thinks could be helpful*A: Oh can you tell me more?B: Why?A: (Oh I just can't tell him) CuriosityB: In that case I can impossibly tell you, this is a serious matter and I consider it unethical to share that information I have learnt in that way just to help you curiosity.A: Oh God...in that case, I must tell you the whole truth. It is really embarrassingB: WAIT! Before you tell me anything embarassing let me mention that I'm a horrible person! I did terrible things! I had a terribly childhood, but I won't bore you with that because I don't want pitty and anyway I don't think this is an excuse for all the horrible things I've done anyway. I also won't mention anything more specific about these horrible things I've done! Oh and I will die in a few months! Have I mentioned that I don't want pitty?A: I don't care *tells embarrasing secret*B: That changes everything! I will tell you everthingC *randomly appears*: B there is an emergency! We need you now!B: OK, A meet me in two hours!A: I will no go on and on about how terribly it is to wait TWO MORE HOURS!Readers: We feel your pain. Now could you shut up and just jump to the point in the narrative to where you learn the secret?A: OK, if you absolutely have to.Readers: OH REJOYCE FOR WE FINALLY KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON.This, was truly not exaggerated at all. Now, as I've said, these kind of taunting the reader annoys me always and even if it is done only in small doses, but I think even if wouldn't mind it as much: Collins is just overdoing it. Not only in that case.Another problem I had were the characters. I already ranted about two of the narrators and said that the rest are quite boring. That is also the case for all the other characters. None moved me (in a positive way), most were boring, some were annoying. Some were first annoying and than boring. I honestly wouldn't have cared if all had dropped dead at the end of the novel. But than that didn't matter so much, because, as I said at the beginning, it is a great puzzle. The mystery of how the Moonstone disappeared is awesome. It's madly insane (yes, twice insane). It pulls of relevation after relevation and nearly everytime you go "Oh no, he wouldn't" but Collins does and he somehow manages to pull it of and you don't really know how (because it is so far from being in any way realistic as Pluto is from being a real planet). It just works, and it's great and occasionally funny and why should I care about these characters, tell me more about the Moonstone.In case you don't want to read my long, rambly, review-ish thing on this long and rambly book and hope for some shortcut, a nice summary, expressing my feelings on this book: Here you go. Have something Betteridge never does for his readers.Did I enjoy it? Yes. Despite everything.Do I regret reading it? No. Never.Will I read more by Wilkie Collins? Yes, but not immediately.Will I read The Moonstone again? Unlikely, definitely not in the next 10 or so years.