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Review: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

Of all the books I had to read at school, The Moonstone was probably the only novel I really enjoyed. It is one of the first 'whodunnit' type of books and, remarkably, it manages to hit virtually every requirement of the genre dead centre. If this book was written today, it would still be a classic.

The Moonstone of the title is a rare yellow diamond, stolen from an Indian shrine by colonialists. Thought to be unlucky it is left to the young Rachel Verinder. The night after her 18th birthday party the stone is stolen from her rooms, and the rest of the novel describes how the various players eventually manage to solve the crime.

The plot features twists and turns galore, false trails and red herrings enough for two detective stories. Although the crime involved is 'only' theft rather than the more usual murder it is no less engaging as a story. The characters are well drawn and - social reformer that Collins was - there are strong women and intelligent and interesting servants as well as the landed gentry and philanthropists that inhabit the world of country estates in the mid 19th century that the novel is set in.

One feature of the book is that the story is told from the viewpoint of a number of the players. Firstly (and for nearly half the book) we are introduced to the Verinders and the theft by Gabriel Betteredge, a long serving family retainer who is head of the staff and a sort of de facto butler. Betteredge's narrative is charming and witty, full of dry asides and observations. His habit of picking passages from Robinson Crusoe and applying them to daily life is a quirk that is completely in keeping with his character.

Once the story moves to London, the narrative is taken up by various other characters, sometimes just for a short journal entry, sometimes for extended periods of time. Collins imbues each of these parts with a different voice really skillfully, keeping each character very separate.

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On Where Pianos Roam

I've been doing a good bit of reading lately, and I thought I'd share what I've been getting into .  .  . A couple of days ago, my older sister lent me a book to read that she borrowed from the library.  It's is called "Water For Elephants" .  .  . It tells the story of a young man whose trajectory in life changes after the sudden death of his parents.  He inadvertently joins a traveling circus. I'm not done with this novel yet, but I must say I am enjoying it IMMENSELY.  The story is so completely engrossing and full of such sweet and likable characters.  I will give a full review once I am done. Secondly, I've been studying up on how to better handle one's finances and have been using a book to help me incorporate best practices to do so. I've been reading this .  .  . This book offers a lot of practical advice in language that is clear to understand.  It covers topics ranging from your income to housing, jobs, savings, college expenses, retirement, etc.  In this delicate and depleted economy that we currently have, it is in anyone's best interest to tighten one's belt and be more practical.  I don't like to waste anything, especially money. Lastly, I've just started reading this .  .  . As a musician, I don't ever pretend to know everything there is to know about music, but I am certainly willing to work to achieve such a lofty state of being.  Since I have honestly had relatively little formal and/or classical training, I am well aware that there are probably countless ideas and concepts that I could stand to be familiar with.  This book is a step towards all of this.  It covers all things involving various chord structures, chromaticism, inversions, diatonic triads, and a whole slew of ideas I haven't the foggiest clue of.  Should be an interesting ride. I do love reading books, and I have a vast interest in so many topics. More to come soon. -gordon

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