The Moonstone

This morning I finished reading

This 1949 reprinted edition was given to me for my 80th birthday by my daughter Becky who had trawled the internet trying to find a suitable 1942 impression of this 1868 novel acclaimed as the first detective novel. Above is a scan of the still intact book jacket.

Slipped inside the book is a double-sided advertising bookmark, offering bookshelves to suit different readers’ budgets. Note the price of the fine one.

The work is meticulously crafted as to be expected from one who was called to the bar in 1851, then devoted himself to literature.

There are many detailed reviews of the book on line, but I will employ my usual practice of not giving away the story. The choice of Dorothy L. Sayers to write the introduction was most apt. In particular she makes a point of signalling the strength of the author’s female characters.

The reader is gripped by this tale from first to last. Using the device of different sequential narrators Collins relates a complex story which romps through to the end, itself tied together by a number of voices. It is long enough to force us to put it down occasionally, although I have to admit I could have happily taken a break from Miss Clack’s perspective.

Wilkie Collins’s prose is fluent and descriptive, and his dialogue credible. He constantly links different aspects of the story reminding us of earlier details. In his own prefaces he states that the reader will find all the necessary clues in the first ten chapters, thus setting a pattern for later writers of the genre and their later aficionados. I’m no good at spotting these anyway, so I will take his word for it.

This is perhaps the writer’s most famous book, but he, himself, wished to be best remembered for ‘The Woman in White’

Should anyone wish to read a much more detailed review of ‘The Moonstone’ I would refer them to

Twelfth Impression

This morning the building of the last two bookcases was completed.

I managed to unearth the Novels A box and cleared a path to begin placing books on the shelves.

That is when Jackie decided that the column of concrete in the left hand corner offended her eye. Worse than that, she had a half width set of shelves in the kitchen which she was prepared to sacrifice to cover it up.

Oh joy. That meant shifting many more boxes without Matthew’s muscle. The two bookcases Matthew had moved across the room would have to be moved along a foot or so. And he had screwed them together to make the structure more secure. So I had to unscrew them; with Jackie’s help, reposition them and the one from the kitchen; and fasten them up again. That should have done the trick.

But there was now a strip of exposed concrete along the top. As I contemplated filling it with paperbacks before she noticed, she covered it herself with a piece of flooring laminate that had been placed along the windowsill. She had cleaned it up and saved it in case it might come in useful.
Why did I have to choose Superwoman?

After lunch I did get to begin filling shelves with novels whose authors names begin with A to C. In doing so, I found my copy of Daisy Ashford’s ‘The Young Visiters’. On May 22nd 1919, the then thirty seven year old author published, for the first time, the acclaimed masterpiece written when she was nine years old. Such was the work’s amazing success that by July that same year the twelfth impression, one of which is my book, was published. This brilliant description of adults and their behaviour, with uncorrected spelling adding to its charm, has never been out of print.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb sausage and bacon casserole (recipe), served with mashed potato and crisp cauliflower and broccoli.

Lines Of Communication

5th April 2014
TulipsOleanderAfter overnight rain the garden plants and spiders’ webs this morning were bejewelled. It wasn’t long before the leaden skies began a day-long disgorging of their contents.
We didn’t go anywhere. As she continued her mega kitchen clean, Jackie discovered that black cupboard handles were in fact brass. She made them glow again.
Martin Taylor, the artisan Pippa had recommended, responded to my voicemail message. We had a most frustrating almost one-way conversation on mobile phones because he couldn’t hear me as my signal kept breaking up. He tried his landline. That was no better. It was then that I realised our landline was dead. How could we have broadband, but no landline?
The answer to this may lie in the instruction booklet that came with the phones bought two or three years ago. Where was it? I remembered having scooped up various such technical documents and slipped them into one of the boxes. Which one? That was the question. A rather protracted search began. Eventually Jackie found them.
It took about three seconds study for me to realise that a lead was missing from the phone. But it was protruding from the socket. All the wires from phones, hub, computer, etc. are extended, and tangled around each other, so it was a bit difficult to find the line I was looking for. Eventually I tracked it to the home hub. With much trepidation I pulled it out and pushed it into the phone. Eureka! The phone worked, and the broadband still did. I called Martin from the landline and we communicated without interruption. He is coming on Monday 7th.
Thereafter, my major task was further clearance of the garage, fortuitously interrupted by a pleasant visit from Shelly who loved the house.
I removed numerous ancient paint tins, brackets, car bits, oily stuff, wood, metal, wires, and rubber from the rickety metal and cobbled wooden shelves; stripped out the shelves themselves; prised nails and screws from the wall; carted everything to the increasingly expanding skip heap; and swept up. In the process, I found some useful garden tools which I transported down the garden to the orange stained shed. Jackie then helped me to place three of the IKEA Billy bookshelves in the now vacant space.
This evening we dined on Tesco’s excellent beef lasagne followed by caramel-filled chocolate sponge. I finished the Isla Negra.
Tonight I managed to stay up until 9.30 p.m. before hauling myself upstairs to bed.