A splash of fresh joy in reading ‘The Moonstone’

Anter years reading works from Victorian Era that mostly talk about feminism, gender gap, poverty, societal mockery and romance, savoring ‘The Moonstone’ has so far becoming a very rare pleasure for me.
Dubbed as the first detective story in world literature, ‘The Moonstone’ is a smart, witty, silly and yes, funny as hell. The core of the fiction lays on a valuable jewel namely the moonstone coming from the 11th century of the Christian era. It isn’t only a grand, precious metal but it carries stories about religions, legends, superstitions held by its believers for centuries.
The main protagonist of the novel is Gabriel Betteredge, a 70 something old man, who works as the servant head of the Verrinder family. His role in the fiction is greater than what a top servant does for he knows about the costly stone for decades. He comprehends what happens with the stone after it is stolen by one of the Verrinder’s family members until how it reaches the hands of Ms. Rachel Verrinder on her 18th birthday.
The moonstone draws much attention from many people, especially Indian jugglers, the country from where the stone originates. So when the stone goes missing a day after the party, everyone in the house is suspected to have taken it. By the page of 110, two police officers come to the house to investigate the missing stone and so far none is proven to have stolen it.
Wilkie Collins invites me to read his work in full concentration not because his words are wrapped in layers or it conveys deep meaning behind the story but due to his fast-paced plot. Certainly, ‘The Moonstone’ isn’t the type of Victorian novels written by his peers who explore much about emotions and interactions. Collins certainly does sell riddles here.
In this book, Collins also brings forth unique characters, those who are strange, stupid and comical. I love the way Collins injects spontaneous element here and there. The figure of Betteredge himself is an interesting person to explore. Of course, his heart is very kind and attentive to people around him. He learns so much about the inhabitants of the residence. As an old man as he is, Betteredge has eyes and ears all around the mansion. He has only one daughter, Penelope, who also works in the house as the caretaker of Ms Rachel. He is a trustworthy person yet insensible to women’ feelings.
When I come to the page of 110, I am puzzled by the behavior of the young lady of the house, who is Ms Rachel. Well, from the start, her description raises my eyebrow. Unlike most young girls at her age who loves sharing stories with her friends, Rachel is the sort of person who completely depends on herself. In shorter words, she knows about herself so much that it seems she doesn’t need anyone from whom she will gain perspectives or advices.
As firm as she is, I am so surprised to have known she looks hysterical when the stone is gone. She locks herself inside her room and doesn’t want to talk with the officers. Her countenance looks pale when she faces her servants talking about the moonstone. In my words, I can conclude ‘the moonstone absorbs Rachel’s independence so she highly depends on the jewel that she doesn’t know what to face the life anymore’.
Those are only two brief descriptions on the two characters that catch my attention most. As I previously say, I love the way Wilkie Collins inserts spontaneity in many parts of the story. I think this what makes the fiction runs unexpectedly and completely entertaining. In-between spontaneous acts, he puts jokes too, which stimulates my laughter while reading it.
For instance, Collins mentions a lot of Rosanna Spearman, one of the servants who used to be a thief. The woman has a crush on Mr. Franklin Blake, the cousin of Miss Rachel, but the gentleman doesn’t share the same feeling. Rosanna acts so weird just to attract Mr. Franklin’s attention, from taking roses from the room of Miss Rachel (because Mr. Franklin and Miss Rachel loves each other) to spying on him around a shrubbery in the complex of the house, a spot where which Mr. Franklin frequently visits. I pity on Rosanna’s attitude but also I can’t help laughing while imagining her actions when such acts take part.
Another thing that sticks on my mind is when Gabriel Betteredge suggests Mr. Candy to take a carriage on his way home from the birthday party. But the young doctor refuses the advice saying a doctor’s skin is waterproof, LOL! The next day, the doctor is sick.
I look forward reading, and hopefully, finding more sudden, funny acts in the book since it has been really long I hadn’t read such a comical book like ‘The Moonstone’. Very good job, Mister Wilkie Collins! I am the huge fan of ‘The Moonstone’.

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‘Sense and Sensibility’, my second escapade with Jane Austen

sense and sensibility

For how many times I can’t remember I made a vow to myself which I knew I was going to break it. Before the payday came this Tuesday, I promised to myself I wouldn’t buy a book because I have planned saving a sum of money for other things. Only a few days I kept this promise as yesterday I went to the Kinokuniya bookstore after my job was done. I couldn’t help fighting against the temptation of not reading a novel. So even if my money is so tight I kept going there. Even when I have known I can’t expect the bookstore offers more classic titles I went home bringing Jane Austen’s evergreen romance story, ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Although I once watched its movie version I kept purchasing it because I have known written version will always be much more joyful for a reader like me.

The best realistic thing about Victorian books is that they are sold in various editions that match with my pocket. I bought the book edition at just around US$7 (see picture), which is still very affordable for me. I can still enjoy a very lovely story under cheap price. I actually wanted to buy ‘The Vegetarian’ but the price is too high for me at the moment. So never mind with ‘Sense and Sensibility’, though.

I watched ‘Sense and Sensibility’ years ago. All I remember is Kate Winslet still looks so young at the movie.  I don’t even know the name of the actress who plays the oldest one as the central protagonist of the book. I was considering my experiences of having watched the movie version before I bought the canon. As the amazing experience of reading ‘Jane Eyre’ after watching its movie version proves my capability of enjoying the novel, I grabbed ‘Sense and Sensibility’ then headed home.

Unlike ‘Emma’, which was opened with rather cheerful tone, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, so its first pages suggest, invite me to probably read it in a serious mode. So far, I am at its first 13 pages so I can’t say many things yet other than the novel is quite solemn. Since I am accustomed of reading books by Thomas Hardy which are way stressful than Austen’s I bet ‘Sense and Sensibility’ is not that much depressing. At least let’s hope this classic isn’t as distressing as ‘Jane Eyre’.

 Thank you for providing the picture.

I wish I don’t know that Hardy is a sad married man

thomas hardy

I have long known some bad rumors regarding Thomas Hardy, one of my most favorite authors. He is said to have neglected his wife, Emma Gifford, as they aren’t blessed with any children. They grow apart, emotionally. Hardy is told to have visited other women, including Florence Dugdale, whom later becomes his wife after Gifford passes away.  Hardy regrets of making his wife unhappy then spends his remaining years living in remorse. This state of emotion is told as one of the factors that shade his second marriage with Gifford.

As much as they are true, I wish I don’t know about that. Now I know but I don’t want to make the fact lessens how much I adore Hardy’s writings. Thankfully, I know about all of this after I read his masterpieces. Fortunately. It is like knowing you were actually in danger after you escape from it.

Because I don’t know how would that be if read the books knowing Hardy is unhappy with his marriage. Probably I would discontinue reading his books.

It is still hard to believe that Hardy is a sad married man. That is probably reflected from his books’ tone, which is gloomy, realistic cum pessimistic. Looking at the ways he portrays his heroines, I disbelieve that he is responsible of making his wife unhappy. In my opinion, Hardy’s women are feminists who have super power. The women in his fictions are stubborn but with intelligence, rare ones when they are created in the 19th or early 20th century.

That is why I hardly digest Hardy’s real romance life is quite saddening. That his marriage doesn’t make him satisfied as well. One can barely tell personal lives, problems don’t influence their writings. But I find it difficult to grasp his unhappy marriage life in his novels have I not known about his real life via Wikipedia.

May be Hardy can skillfully separate between the two (his own life and his artificial worlds in his books). Or probably I just don’t get that enough. I am too absorbed into his words. All I know his stories are all very realistic. That’s why I love him so much.

And sometimes I wish I don’t know about his own doomed marriage. Sometimes all I know is his beautiful words, poetic phrases and such. And now, I try to not remember Hardy’s life each time I enjoy his words. I hope I can do this as long as I can.

The picture is taken from this.

‘Pot-Bouille’, the big laugh I have this weekend

pot-bouille

I have had Pot-Bouille for several years. But I abandoned the novel until just last weekend when I was cleaning my small room, rearranging books in the bookshelf then I found it. At first, I didn’t want to read it (still). I attempted to read the novel but catching the first page cushioned me away. The words were not beautiful, I thought at the time. It was a translated version nonetheless (the original one in in French language written by Emile Zola).

So I never considered giving it another try. Until last Saturday when I didn’t know why my hands got the book then opened it. My eyes were sparkling reading the first page. They were quite entertained by the words; short, descriptive. More than enough to get me through the weeks.

So, the first page that used to be very narrow and unpleasant turned to be literary-worthy. The novel has become a good companion on my daily commute. How comical!

I was happy at that day. The money that would be used to purchase Thomas Hardy’s novels are still in the wallet. That’s trivial advantage by the way. The relieved one is that this has become the second or may be the third time I have given myself a chance to prove myself wrong.

For a person who mostly believe in first sight, what happens between me and Pot-Bouille and me and The Return of the Native serves like an anomaly, which is a good thing because my experiences with the two novels show me that my mind can change. I am a reader on a progress. Anything can happen in terms of reading preference.

What used to be the most-avoided reading materials can nourish my soul later on. The thing is letting myself open to any kind of books although the writing styles do not match up my taste. It is important becoming a flexible reader because I still have a lot of things to learn. It is too soon to close my eyes, limited only to things that catch my attention from the beginning only.

So, Pot-Bouille has been nice so far. The plot moves quickly. The language is straight-forwarded. The theme so far has been about the manner and the lives of middle-class people in Paris, probably in the middle of the 19th century. I really love this sort of theme by the way.

The first pages of the book introduces me to the grand apartment where the characters reside. I can visualize how magnificent and elegant the place is and Paris in general. The extravagant life it has to offer, the rich people and the problems they have to face amidst the wealthy lives they experience.

So, I currently enjoy reading the book. Wish me luck guys! What books are you in right now? I’d love to read from yours.

The picture is taken from this.

Goodbye ‘Janet’ now welcome ‘Olalla’

happy

I finally bid farewell to ‘Thrawn Janet’, the first short story ever that confuses me because of its writing style. You can read about the reading struggle of this writing here. I get through it, eventually, after a few weeks.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am now. It feels as if I just pass very dark, dense forest with no helps at all. All in front of my eyes are now clear path with the sound of river nearby where I currently stand. The sun shines so bright. The land looks so vast.

I am so ready to resume the journey of this short story collection by Robert Louis Stevenson. Well, in fact I have been enjoying the first three pages of ‘Olalla’ another short story in this book anthology. And I quite like it.

At least, the writing style is my kind of favorite. No Scottish dialect, all is written in formal language. And oh yes, what I have been missing from this author shows up again; his beautiful writing style, the one that contains vivid descriptions that encourage my mind to visualize.

I can’t tell you much about what this story is all about other than the protagonist of the story is a handsome man from well-to-do family who wishes to seek therapy in a fresh, beautiful village in Spain in exchange of better health condition.

‘Olalla’ is the name of the characters in the story, the wife of Felipe, the narrator’s servant. What goes after this? I don’t know yet. I am going to share it all after I complete reading it. In the meantime I just want to say that I am happy I fulfill my commitment to finish reading ‘Thrawn Janet’ which completely confuses me. But I manage to keep my words and somehow I am proud of myself because of that. Also, I am happy to say here that I enjoy reading ‘Olalla’ so far.

Thank you for providing the above happy picture.

The hard life of a distinctive reader

Last Sunday, I and my best friend, who is also a bookworm, headed to my favorite bookstore. The bookstore was located in an upscale shopping mall in the heart of Jakarta. The mall is such a high class one that I go to the place because of the bookstore and its food court. Only the products at the two chains that are affordable for my pocket, LOL! Others are luxurious materials, too expensive for me.

My pal was coming back home bringing two novels, one of which was my recommendation; ‘Wuthering Heights’. I was happy she purchased the book. I told her the novel was by far the best novel that had ever been written. She trusted me.

She seemed joyful but I was not.

The bookstore is the only place in Jakarta where I usually find my treasures (best classics I have always been looking for). While I found it amazing the bookstore was still flocked by visitors since reading habit in Indonesia is saddening, particularly for imported books, I was disappointed that it didn’t provide various book titles from the Victorian Era that Sunday. It was displaying famous novels, the ones that had been reproduced into a lot of versions, such as Jane Austen’s popular books and those of Charles Dickens.

If not the popular titles, the bookstore sells overlooked short stories, which are not my thing. I prefer novels anyway.

I was sad because no more titles by Thomas Hardy other than those I had read; ‘Jude the Obscure’, ‘Far from The Madding Crowd’, and so on. I was hoping his lesser-known books were there, like ‘Two on A Tower’ or ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ yet they weren’t.

I have been longing for reading those unpopular novels by Hardy for quite so long. And I was not really surprised that I didn’t get what I wanted that day. The trouble being a classic reader like I in Indonesia is that I always feel like an anomaly.

Either my fellow bookworms are lovers of novels in Bahasa Indonesia or most of my pals are not avid readers, I always find it difficult whenever I want to read novels by my favorite authors. I can buy them online but for a conventional reader like I, coming to a good bookstore then looking for titles that I like is such a bliss. Looking at the many titles, admiring the books’ covers then feeling my eyes sparkle whenever I find books that I want to buy or new titles suddenly capture my eyes..

You can call overly dramatic but I always love going to a bookstore. It feels like I am about to have an adventure.

I almost bought ‘Sylvia’s Lovers’ by Elizabeth Gaskell that day but I cancelled it because it was too pricey. Sadly, there was only one book at the shelf, which made me even more sober. I also almost purchased ‘Jane Eyre’ but the faces of Mia Wasikowska and Micheal Fassbender really disrupted my intention. The thought they were on a screen for a movie adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’ was not my favorite.

I went home empty-handed. I preferred not reading books that didn’t completely fit my interests to being forced enjoying novels that were so-so. If you guys living in countries where reading is very common you guys are so lucky because in Indonesia, reading habit is quite alarming.

Most youngsters here tend love reading popular books, the kind of stories that ‘sell’ romance or motivation. Canon literature is an alien, especially those in English Language. Reading books in public parks is very rare here. Book clubs are scarce, too. I am happy with my reading preference though despite the fact that I have to struggle finding my desired novels.

Mumbling about ‘Markheim’

markheim

When I firstly read the first few sentences of the short story I thought it would be similar to ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ not because that the story turned out to be a murderer one but it was more because of the setting and simply because of my imagination.

The story was set in the heart of the city. Since the first scene was all about the business transaction between Markheim and the store dealer, a little bit similar with the first view of the famous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When I finished the story I found that they told readers about murderers. I am always fascinated by Robert Louis Stevenson’s ideas of putting forth stories about criminals, like Markheim and the other title, because through Robert’s writings I can at least dig deep into what the outcasts’ think about themselves; how do what they do; and what makes them doing so.

At this, I salute the author’s grand idea which brings up the topic of getting in touch with what are called as ‘bad people’. Somehow, ‘Markheim’ was no fun reading if I related it to break the heart of the criminal. Too straight-forwarded. Too naive. Markheim was telling everything about his motives of killing the dealer out of money to a man who was about to enter the room Markheim was in to unlock the drawers’ key. Markheim wasn’t without stories however. His bitter past was pushing him doing this mischievous.

Yet, the way Robert unraveled it all was too linear. So truth to be told, I got bored easily. Another thing that turned me off was the part when Markheim stabbed the dealer. I understood that Markheim was pushed to the limit because the dealer did not want to sell a Christmas gift Markheim was wishing to buy. But the main actor’s way of boiling it up was not smooth.

I felt like a bit of sudden Markheim was pushing the knife into the dealer’s body. He wasn’t that furious though.

So, all in all, I don’t really like the story. It didn’t run well compared to ‘The Merry Men’ and ‘Will O The Mill’. The story was a little bit flat and seemed the writer forced it to be a murder story. Well, that’s just my opinion.

The picture is taken from this.