Wilkie Collins Podcast - The Moonstone, Second Period: The Discovery of the Truth
Welcome to the Wilkie Collins podcast episode on part two of The Moonstone!
This masterpiece includes a stolen Indian gem with a bloody past, plot twists, red herrings, a small circle of suspects, and a couple amazing detectives. It’s a serious page-turner.
T. S. Eliot described The Moonstone as the “first … and greatest of modern English detective novels.” The story includes several features of contemporary detective fiction and helped establish many of the genre’s conventions.
Read: Buy it on Amazon, buy it used, or read it for free, courtesy of Project Gutenberg. (Reading time: ~8 hours)
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What We're Talking About in our Wilkie Collins podcast episode on the Moonstone
Sarah Harrison 0:24
Welcome to Tea, Tonic & Toxin, a book club and podcast for anyone who wants to explore the best mysteries and thrillers ever written. I’m your host, Sarah Harrison,
Carolyn Daughters 0:36
and I’m your host Carolyn Daughters. Pour yourself a tea, or a gin and tonic,
Sarah Harrison 0:42
… but not a toxin …
Carolyn Daughters 0:45
And join us on the journey through 19th and 20th century mysteries and thrillers, every one of them a game changer. Today we’re talking about The Moonstone. It’s our second Wilkie Collins podcast. Before we before we get too deep into the book, I think we have a sponsor.
Sarah Harrison 1:03
We do. We have an awesome sponsor. Today’s sponsor is our very own wonderful Carolyn Daughters, who runs a brand building and communications consultancy. She leads brand therapy sessions, teaches marketing courses for startups and small businesses, and leads daylong persuasive writing workshops. Carolyn and her small team empower startups, small businesses, enterprises, and government agencies to win hearts, minds, deals, and dollars. You can learn more at www.carolyndaughters.com. Check it out. She is amazing. And beautiful and intelligent.
Carolyn Daughters 1:53
She’s the full package.
Sarah Harrison 1:57
She is, folks. Carolyndaughters.com.
Carolyn Daughters 2:01
We also have a listener of the episode, Sherry Poisson O’Neill. She has had very kind things to say about Tea, Tonic, and Toxin, and she listened to our podcast and gave it a thumbs up. So thank you, Sherry. We are going to find your address and send you one of these amazing stickers that we’ve created.
Sarah Harrison 2:52
Look for our message on social media, where we’ll be asking you where we can send your sticker. And speaking of stickers, I think we want to make maybe some limited edition stickers. I know that we’ve we’re always featuring some cool vintage artwork from our books. So look for some vintage artwork stickers and possibly some voting opportunities to get your input on what you’d like to see in a sticker.
Carolyn Daughters 3:21
I love it. And Sarah is having a great time creating stickers.
Sarah Harrison 3:24
I’m obsessed with stickers.
Carolyn Daughters 3:26
I was trying to downplay it. She is actually obsessed.
Sarah Harrison 3:33
The first place that sticker is gonna go is my cooler, which is where all my stickers go.
Carolyn Daughters 3:38
Sarah Harrison 3:42
In today’s Wilkie Collins podcast episode, we’ll be discussing the second part of The Moonstone, entitled The Discovery of Truth. In London, Godfrey and a money lender named Mr. Luker are attacked and searched. Lady Verinder dies, and Rachel reluctantly agrees to marry Godfrey. She breaks off the engagement when Mr. Bruff the family lawyer, tells her that Godfrey is only marrying her for her money. By the way, if you didn’t know that these Wilkie Collins podcast episodes are full of spoilers, let me tell you that now. If you haven’t read the book and you want to read it, know that we’re going to tell you the ending now. Meanwhile, Franklin is determined to restore Rachel’s good opinion. He returns to Yorkshire, where a friend of Rosanna Spearman gives him a letter she wrote. The letter leads him to the Shivering Sands where Rosanna died. There Rosanna had hidden his nightgown, which is smeared with paint, along with a confession that she hid the nighgown and killed herself out of love for him. Confused, Franklin meets with Rachel in London. She says she saw him take the diamond. She has kept quiet to protect his reputation. Next Franklin meets the doctor’s assistant, Ezra Jennings. Ezra tells Franklin that the doctor secretly gave Franklin opium. The night the moonstone was stolen, under the influence of opium. Franklin took the diamond to keep it safe. Ezra Jennings suggests that if Franklin takes opium again under similar conditions. He may reveal where the diamond is hidden. They conduct the experiment. Franklin takes a substitute gym but doesn’t reveal the moonstone’s hiding place. Rachel forgives him, and they confess their love for each other. In the meantime, the family lawyer, Mr. Bruff, has Mr. Luker’s bank watched. The money lender is seen passing the moonstone to a sailor. Later that same night, the sailor is murdered at a dockside inn. Sergeant Cuff reveals that the sailor was … Godfrey in disguise! Godfrey was the real thief, and he was killed by the three Brahmins who have now recovered the diamond. The story ends with Mr. Murthwaite, a famous global traveler who witnesses a religious ceremony in India, where the Brahmins return the diamond to the forehead of the god of the moon. There you have it, folks. A really cool twist.
Carolyn Daughters 6:10
Listeners, hopefully you’ve read the book and loved the book. We obviously did, which is why this is our fourth Wilkie Collins podcast episode. We’d love to hear any of your thoughts about this book.
Sarah Harrison 6:22
Tell us what you didn’t love about the book.
Carolyn Daughters 6:24
We encourage feedback at teatonicandtoxin.com. We have several opportunities on the site for you to share your thoughts. We’re also on Instagram and Facebook @teatonicandtoxin. Share any thoughts you have about the books we’ve chosen.
Sarah Harrison 6:52
All thoughts welcome. And you may get a sticker. I know that would motivate me.
Carolyn Daughters 7:00
Yes. If any of you are looking to market to Sarah, offering a sticker would help.
Sarah Harrison 7:06
It definitely helps. Thank you in advance for your stickers.
Carolyn Daughters 7:12
Sarah, we talked a lot about Gabriel Betteredge in part one. We have one other Wilkie Collins podcast devoted to The Moonstone. It’s such a big, interesting book. We’ve got two episodes. Let’s talk about some of the characters who think that they may be superior to reason.
Sarah Harrison 7:33
I like this too. Because Gabriel Betteredge and Miss Clack did not like each other. They’re pretty open about disliking each other. But they both have this idea that they’re superior to reason. Gabriel brings it up several times. And he’s superior to reason because he feels like he knows the family, and he loves them. So whatever your reasoning, he knows better. And Miss Clack is superior to reason, primarily on religious grounds. In some sense, the statement itself is a little bit ridiculous today. But in another sense, I wondered if maybe they had a little bit of merit. When you think?
Carolyn Daughters 8:22
Each is showing devotion to something, whether it’s the family Gabriel’s supporting, the Verinder family, or Miss Clack, who has religion on her side. Thats their compass or their baseline — what’s possible, what could have happened, what could not have happened. And they really have, each of them, a great deal of respect for their own their own compass or their own ability to see the world clearly.
Sarah Harrison 8:57
It came to my mind like, that’s ridiculous, superior to reason. But then in the end they each turn out to be right in a lot of ways. And you have to ask, how did they turn out to be right if reason wasn’t on their side? But I think sometimes it can be tempting to think about reason as maybe a static thing when it’s largely, and you can see this in The Moonstone, very circumstantial. Circumstances point to the idea that Rachel has the moonstone and is hiding it. That’s what Sergeant Cuff thought. While Sergeant Cuff is right in many ways about many things, he was wrong about Rachel. And Gabriel knew he was wrong about Rachel because, as he says, he’s superior to reason. But we can also think about it in terms of his access to different information about character. Which maybe isn’t opposed to reason. When you think about reason as the best circumstantial explanation, there’s maybe always room for a little more information.
Carolyn Daughters 10:08
He’s able to complicate the situation by saying, I actually know the people involved. I have information the police don’t have, because they’re coming in here cold, and they don’t know anyone. Let’s say a crime is committed in real life. The family of whoever committed the crime says that their father, brother, sister daughter could never have committed crime. I know they never could have done it. So that reason is potentially fallible.
Sarah Harrison 10:47
I would offer that maybe a real legitimate, deep knowledge of someone’s character is itself a piece of evidence worth considering when you’re putting all the pieces together? Gabriel turns out to be right. I can’t exactly remember the circumstances under which Miss Clack said it. But I’m thinking it might have been the stupid doctor’s orders. He says, “Oh, you’re dying, Lady Verinder. It’s best not to think of anything serious. Please only read frivolous nonsense.”
Carolyn Daughters 11:26
Keep your brain light and free. This is a theme we’ve discussed in all four of our Wilkie Collins podcast episodes.
Sarah Harrison 11:32
When Miss Clack comes in and says she’s superior to reason, I want her to think more transcendent thoughts. I have to say, though, I’m a little bit on Clack’s side. Just because the doctor says it, n hindsight we know it’s nonsense.You don’t have to just read frivolous books because your terminal. Maybe that’s a really good time to think about your life more deeply.
Carolyn Daughters 12:02
We don’t know if the doctor would give that advice similarly to a man. He might. We don’t know. But we know that Lady Verinder is considered fragile enough that no thought should complicate her life right now. If she were living today, she’d be watching soap operas.
Sarah Harrison 12:26
I felt honestly, too, for the poor people at the time who didn’t have the luxury of just being frivolous in their brains. You could die. Sorry. Go forth. Work your day to day. Die.
Carolyn Daughters 12:41
Miss Clack has these delightful insights at times. You could write her off as this sanctimonious busybody. She’s just posing as a religious figure who is supporting charities and she’s holier than thou. If you just write her off there, you might not see that she has some seriously legit points of view. Pull back the veil. Tell me what you think about Miss Clack, who in many scenes comes across as really quite silly.
Sarah Harrison 13:22
That’s one of the things that always gets me. How is she being presented? What is the perspective the narrator wants us to take away? But it doesn’t always feel genuine to me. We know from many sources again, including Dickens, that times were rough on the poor. And here’s like poor Miss Clack, who is herself poor. They’re her first cousins. They’re not helping her at all. They would think it’s absurd that they should. The most they’ll help her is by inviting her over for dinner. Yet they ask her to do this work for them that they’re incapable of doing because of their frivolousness. She’s out there actually participating in charities and the way Wilkie Collins writes about the charities makes them sound absurd. Like the underwear society, where they drunk, neglectful fathers’ pants and make them smaller so their children to have underwear.
Carolyn Daughters 14:31
Something like that.
Sarah Harrison 14:32
It’s a very strange society and maybe London life was full of all these bizarre charities.
Carolyn Daughters 14:39
Misguided attempts. Maybe heartfelt, we don’t know, but nonetheless misguided attempts to help people.
Sarah Harrison 14:46
We are still full of misguided charitable attempts in 2022.
Carolyn Daughters 14:55
Miss Clack is poor. The family that invites her periodically over for Saturday dinner, that family is just living off of wealth. They are arguably quite lazy and somewhat absurd. “Let’s spend our next several days painting this door and then figuring out what dress to wear for dinner.”
Sarah Harrison 15:20
Let’s go to the opera. It’s almost unarguably. They’re not thinking about anything, and they’re looking down on everyone that participates in the charities.
Carolyn Daughters 15:35
They’re not working for their wealth. They have inherited this wealth. I would argue maybe they should be giving a little bit of it to some family members like Ms. Clack. Why not? It’s not as if they morning, noon and night have been working to earn it and therefore have, great stakes in the money. It’s just money that they have that allows them to live frivolous lives.
Sarah Harrison 16:02
Absolutely. Lady Verinder asks Miss Clack to witness the will, and Miss Clack didn’t get a thing out of the will. And Lady Verinder is like, “Oh, I hope you’re not offended. I’m going to give you your legacy myself.” And then she dies, and Miss Clack gets nothing. There’s no evidence whatsoever that Miss Clack is dishonest in anything she says or does. But still, nobody takes it upon themselves to give her anything, and then they actually just estrange when they find out she was trying to push the tracts on her. It’s not clear why she was pushing the tracts on Lady Verinder. Maybe she was just trying to get her to think more deeply or participate in a charity or hospital.
Carolyn Daughters 16:51
Miss Clack really wanted Lady Verinder to have a religious awakening. It felt like that’s what she was actually attempting to do. We may or may not like what she was attempting to do, but it didn’t feel false to me.
Sarah Harrison 17:07
No, and Rachel so upset at the implication that her mother would even need a religious awakening that she disowns Miss Clack forever and gives her nothing. Maybe Rachel needed a religious awakening after all.
Carolyn Daughters 17:27
Maybe Miss Clack needed a random relative who steals international jewels to bequeath a jewel to her.
Sarah Harrison 17:35
Carolyn Daughters 17:37
We should all be so fortunate as to have our thieving uncle bequeath us a jewel from India.
Sarah Harrison 17:48
I do think Miss Clack was a little self deceived. At least that came across in the nature of her relationship to Godfrey. It seemed really clear to me that she was in love with Godfrey. She would just randomly talk about his beautiful hair and his speaking voice, etc.
Carolyn Daughters 18:12
And she liked that he was involved in the church.
Sarah Harrison 18:17
She kept calling him our Christian hero, which was very funny, especially since he was made out to the deepest hypocrite and villain in the book.
Carolyn Daughters 18:25
Yes. Which, for me became evident fairly early on, though not not immediately, by any stretch. And then, of course, he’s unmasked at the end of the book. Literally masked. He was disguised as a sailor and is killed at the end of the book.
Sarah Harrison 18:51
Maybe I’m being too sympathetic to Miss Clack, I don’t know, but I have trouble holding that against her. I mean, who hasn’t deceived themselves about their own motivations?
Carolyn Daughters 19:03
She’s also given space in the book, much like Rosanna Spearman, to feel attraction for a man. Whereas in most books of this period particularly and a lot of books generally, the guy is given all the liberty in the world to feel attraction for someone, to pursue this woman, to want to court her, to want to marry her. You don’t always see a woman expressing attraction the other direction and having any agency there or attempted agency there.
Sarah Harrison 19:42
That’s extremely true. I think that’s a really good point. In a lot of the books that we’ve read prior to The Moonstone and in other books of the period, I was often astounded that the position of the woman so often seemed to be obliviousness. We’ve discussed this in all four of our Wilkie Collins podcast episodes. They’re like, “oh, I had no feelings until he was in love with me. And then it awakened into something.” I’m always like, wait, what? Weird.
Carolyn Daughters 20:13
What did it awaken? Did it awaken a sense of security, like, thank goodness, now I have a situation where I’ll be taken care of for the rest of my life. Godfrey proposes to Rachel at one point, and it’s the least romantic proposal in the history of proposals.
Sarah Harrison 20:30
You’ll get used to me.
Carolyn Daughters 20:33
I’m fine. It’ll be fine. He says to her, “Do you know many wives who respect and admire their husbands, and yet they in their husbands get on very well. How many brides go to the altar with hearts that would bear inspection by the men who take them there? And yet it doesn’t end unhappily. Somehow or other, the nuptial establishment jogs on. The truth is women try marriage as a refuge more far more numerously than they’re willing to admit. And they find that marriage has justified their confidence in it.”
Sarah Harrison 21:04
I thought this was really interesting, too. And it’s parallel to The Woman in White, where the villain, again, makes a similar proposal. We discussed this in another Wilkie Collins podcast episode. She tells him she loves someone else. And he’s like, “respect is more than I’d even just be happy with. You can build a marriage on that. We’ll get used to each other.” It does seem bizarre, I think, to our ears. And yet, I also have several friends from arranged marriages, where it does start off with like this idea where “this feels like a good match.” These are a little different, because they have some negative things towards them. They start out with the woman being in love with someone else. And the man proposes that she’ll grow to like him.
Carolyn Daughters 22:06
Both men also share a particular trait. They’re both trying to marry for money. They’re both trying to get the woman’s money.
Sarah Harrison 22:13
So what is that? Is there any reason why Wilkie Collins chose that for both villains in these two books? Do you think it was common at the time? Because he really dwells a lot on detailing the particulars of the financial endowments on the women. And then that’s then the motivation for these villainous acts.
Carolyn Daughters 22:36
But maybe part of the villainy is this sales pitch, this used car salesman pitch that they deliver. To know me is to love me. It’ll work out. Everything’s fine. (Well, as long as everything will be fine, then let’s sign on the dotted line.)
Sarah Harrison 22:52
You gotta marry somebody, right?
Carolyn Daughters 22:55
“I’m as good as anyone. And hey, I’m right here. And I’m asking.” Maybe part of thevillainy is the deception of this kind of speech. Back in the 19th century, and earlier, not everybody was marrying for love. It wasn’t some sort of fairy tale. I saw him from across the room, as I was working my 14- to 16-hour dishwashing day, seven days a week. That sort of fairy tale was not the real deal. Life wasn’t a Jane Austen novel.
Sarah Harrison 23:41
Well, a lot of the engagements do seem to happen fairly quickly, even when they are for love. You kind of wonder, is it though? Is it?
Carolyn Daughters 23:49
Or do they have to get engaged quickly enough that the one doesn’t find out the other is the worst match ever? To know me is to love me for the first month, but by month two onwards it’s going to be a nightmare, as was the case in The Woman in White. “I seem charming on the surface. Let’s ride that out and get married right now.” We discussed that idea in one of our Wilkie Collins podcast episodes.
Sarah Harrison 24:14
It makes me wonder if this was the subject of news at the time. A lot of these matches were winding up in murderous, villainous deeds, I don’t know. Or maybe it was just a good opportunity for a story.
Carolyn Daughters 24:31
Those of you who love Wilkie Collins who really know the 1860s, for example, can help fill us in. This seems to be a theme with Wilkie Collins — and a recurring theme in our Wilkie Collins podcast episodes. So what’s his deal?
Sarah Harrison 24:58
I think the argument often was working in these situations because it’s not wholly without merit. I mean, it is ridiculous and villainous in these situations, but to a large extent, marriage is very much a logistical partnership. And that’s a super important component. If you can get it right, it goes a really long way.
Carolyn Daughters 25:20
And Godfrey turned out to be a terrible guy. At this point, when he’s asking for her hand in marriage, he seems like an okay guy. He doesn’t seem like the worst match in the world. But, it was a fairly unromantic proposal, as far as proposals go. So if you’re looking for that for your template for your own future proposal, I would suggest looking elsewhere.
Sarah Harrison 25:48
So far, we’re one in two. It worked in the first book and not the second.
Carolyn Daughters 25:58
Rachel is a conventional character, I would argue. Franklin Blake is a conventional hero, much like Walter Hartright from The Woman in White. As we’ve discussed in these Wilkie Collins podcast episodes, he really seems to identify with these conventional hero types, but he also sympathizes with outsiders. I felt Ezra Jennings, Rosanna, even the three Brahmins who are searching for this moonstone — I feel this really interesting affection he has for them. What did you think about that?
Sarah Harrison 26:39
I agree with what you’re saying. But it’s interesting that he brings them into the story. I do feel like he does give them a voice, but ultimately I felt like they were treated fairly callously and treated countlessly oftentimes by his hero. That’s what I’m wondering: is this a commentary on how callously we treat people? Or is Wilkie Collins just thinking about them as almost like sideshow characters. You’ll see people in modern day say, “I have all this sympathy for these outcast outsiders who need their rights. But I don’t actually know any. None of them are my actual friends. I just share their posts on Instagram or something like that.” This is our fourth Wilkie Collins podcast episode, and I still can’t figure Wilkie Collins out here. Like I love the Rosanna Spearman character. But the only one that really seemed deeply sympathetic to her was Betteredge. His hero kind of caused her suicide. And then he didn’t feel bad about it.
Carolyn Daughters 27:53
He seemed to really gloss over it.
Sarah Harrison 27:54
“Well, it wasn’t my fault, though. Moving on.” “I don’t want to think that it’s unpleasant thoughts.” We also talked about Gooseberry. Poor Gooseberry is clearly like a street urchin who’s getting tuppence on the side for running around doing work for this lawyer. Dickens would have treated him with deep empathy and dignity. Whereas here, he’s just a little comedic, and then goes about his way with great promise to be a detective in the future.
Carolyn Daughters 28:25
I think that’s Wilkie Collins showing a modicum of respect. He straddles both worlds in my mind. He seems like he hasn’t either solidified his own opinion on it. Or he’s not committed to communicating that opinion in the book. So I don’t get a real clear sense of how he feels about Rosanna, Ezra Jennings, the Brahmins, Gooseberry [who’s the kid, Octavius Guy, which is a very cool name, by the way]. For me, it’s not clear. There’s some authorial intention that’s wavering for me there.
Sarah Harrison 29:14
Maybe it’s a man of the times. The little I know of the Victorian era, they were just moving out of the era of slavery. Slavery was outlawed during that era, and in Britain and different different changes were occurring, and so maybe the brain awakens to the idea that these are people, too. I haven’t fully, deeply comprehended that yet, but I’m on board with the concept. So I don’t know, maybe ihe’s there but not all the way there.
Carolyn Daughters 29:50
He’s experimenting. For him to even show any affinity for the three Brahmins is somewhat bold in this time period. Maybe if he was outright saying these are the three greatest guys in the world, and I’m completely in their camp, and the story is told from their point of view — that would be a very different story.
Sarah Harrison 30:12
They don’t get to narrate.
Carolyn Daughters 30:16
True. If you’ve listened to our previous Wilkie Collins podcast episode, which focuses on the first part of The Moonstone, then you know that Sarah is a little annoyed by Franklin Blake. He has a big role in this book. What annoys you about him, Sarah? If our listeners haven’t had a chance to listen to our last Wilkie Collins podcast episode on The Moonstone, what would you like them to know?
Sarah Harrison 30:53
Well, it’s largely to me just how callously he comes across to his own faults and how easily he justifies himself. There’s several things he does. It comes to light that there’s this big disagreement between him and the Verinders because a debt collector comes calling. Apparently he has borrowed a lot of money, not from his rich family but from some poor working guy who he’s not paying back. Hes on the verge of bankruptcy and he’s miffed that this is bothering him and then it’s being held against him. And then Lady Verinder pays it off. It’s similar to how he treats Gooseberry. “Okay, this is super important. Come as soon as you can to my place where I’m staying, here’s my address. And Gooseberry, wonderful guy that he is., he does it, he goes there, and he waits. Is Franklin there on time? Not only is Franklin not there on time, he’s with Rachel. And he’s not even apologetic. He’s like, if you don’t know why it’s so hard to basically stop mooning over my girlfriend, then you’re not a person I ever want to meet. I’m like, yes, Franklin let’s not meet. Because you’re just letting this poor streeter urchin go hungry in your lobby of your apartment. And then he’s mad that anyone should hold him accountable. That’s what really gets me about Frankin.
Carolyn Daughters 32:26
He’s thoughtless, he’s callous.
Sarah Harrison 32:29
Man, he was so offended that Rachel would ever suspect him. Even though she saw him take the diamond with her own eyes. How could she believe that of him? Like still to the bitter end, he thought she was in the wrong. Like she should know his character. You mean the character that ruins the poor and is callous towards them?
Carolyn Daughters 32:59
And toward Rosanna.
Oh yeah, the way he treated Rosanna? That was awful.
I mean, she tried to hide the evidence, right? She hides the nightgown that he wore, and she ends up killing herself.
Sarah Harrison 33:14
He won’t so much speak to her. And then he said his strategy to help her is to act like he doesn’t care about her at all, which then drives her to suicide. He’s like, well, that was my strategy, though. I was just trying to help. She took me seriously. She shouldn’t have.
Carolyn Daughters 33:35
He’s not as sympathetic as I think he’s meant to be. For me, he was not. But he does give a voice to Ezra Jennings. And he does seem to recognize Ezra Jennings is getting a bad rap in town simply because of how he looks.
Sarah Harrison 34:01
Yes. Apparently there’s something mysterious in his past, but we never do find out.
Carolyn Daughters 34:07
We know there’s a story of love and love lost. We know his reputation has been soiled, right or wrong. He has, I believe, darker skin, and people in town seem to distrust him. And I believe he’s described as swarthy.
Sarah Harrison 34:28
Even Betteredge does not like him.
Carolyn Daughters 34:31
Now, Franklin Blake does. And we learn a lot about Ezra Jennings from Franklin Blake, which for me is one of the saving graces of Franklin Blake. There’s a doctor at the beginning of the story, his name is Mr. Candy.
Sarah Harrison 34:54
I love people’s names in this book, by the way.
Carolyn Daughters 34:56
Betteredge, Rosanna Spearman, Miss Clack, and Mr. Candy. Mr. Candy isn’t a character very long because there’s some illness he suffers from right after the moonstone is stolen.
Sarah Harrison 35:14
It’s like a Marian Halcombe illness. He’s in the rain for a long time. It nearly destroys him. [Check out our Wilkie Collins podcast episodes on The Woman in White.]
Carolyn Daughters 35:22
When I was a kid, if it was raining or snowing or whatever my parents would say things like, don’t get go out in the rain or you’ll get sick. Apparently the characters in this book get rained upon and then suddenly they have like a four-month flu or something.
Sarah Harrison 35:39
Mr. Candy is ruined for life.
Carolyn Daughters 35:46
But early in the book, Franklin and Mr. Candy have this debate over medicine or the use of opium or something like that.
Sarah Harrison 35:54
Franklin Blake was just being a jerk, as I recall at the beginning. Like, medicine is stupid, basically. Whether you think medicine is stupid or not, I’m not gonna have the argument with a doctor. That’s just rude.
Carolyn Daughters 36:06
At a birthday party.
Sarah Harrison 36:09
I think even Betteredge, who loves Franklin, is like, “Oh, why are you doing that. You’re ruining the conversation here. He blames it on the moonstone’s curse.
Carolyn Daughters 36:19
I blame it on the privilege that Franklin Blake has. It’s that privilege that allows him to to borrow money from someone who doesn’t have much money and then say, “I shouldn’t have to pay that back.” And it’s the privilege that allows him to speak to a doctor as if he knows more than the doctor.
Sarah Harrison 36:39
What if I was talking to you, even if I thought writing was stupid, and I was like, writing is so stupid. It’s just such a waste. Why would you even spend time on that? It’s an obnoxious way to speak to people? It’s unpleasant. It’s impolite.
Carolyn Daughters 36:58
Yes, it’s all of those things. I think that’s borne of his white male privilege, probably. And it’s white male familial wealth. Because he’s about to inherit.
Sarah Harrison 37:17
He’s gonna be super rich. That’s why everyone’s loaning him money to their detriment. And let’s not forget Rachel who sees him steal the moonstone, and he’s super offended that she would think you stole the moonstone. “Don’t you know me? It’s me. I’m great.”
There’s a key part of the book that happens with this doctor, Mr. Candy, before he goes into his four-month medical situation or illness. He gives Franklin Blake opium without telling Franklin Blake he’s giving him opium.
Sarah Harrison 37:56
That was eye-opening for me, too, because I’ve read in a lot of books about people taking laudanum. And I didn’t know laudanum was opium. It’s just like diluted opium, and that was the sleeping solution at the time. So he sneaks a little laudanum, which sounds to me less serious, because all these Victorian ladies were taking laudanum. It’s not like, “oh, give him drugs like hard opium” like it would be now.
Carolyn Daughters 38:26
You’re thinking it’s like a Sudafed.
Sarah Harrison 38:28
That’s almost how I’ve heard it referred to in the past.
Carolyn Daughters 38:32
So laudanum, opium … we’re nothing but educational here at Tea, Tonic & Toxin. It’s just such a learning experience here.
Sarah Harrison 38:43
That’s why I like to read these old books, too. I feel like I’m always learning something interesting. I’m learning a lot in these Wilkie Collins podcast episodes, too.
Carolyn Daughters 38:47
For sure. What happens is Franklin Blake wanders around in this opium stupor. He takes the moonstone out of Rachel’s room and puts it somewhere, we don’t know where. Mr. Candy, the doctor, is out of commission. So Ezra Jennings, the doctor’s assistant, jumps in and says, “every doctor in large practice, finds himself every now and then obliged to deceive his patients. I don’t defend the folly of playing this trick. I do plead with you for a more accurate, more merciful construction of motives.” I read this and thought, this is horrifying. That a doctor could do. Because it was a trick. It wasn’t it wasn’t as if Franklin Blake needed opium necessarily.
Sarah Harrison 39:50
That’s also how they refer to some of the hijinks in The Notting Hill Mystery. It’s like, “She was just playing a trick. She put this diuretic in the drink.” There’s the rise of chemistry in this era.
Carolyn Daughters 40:11
The experimental nature of it like not really always knowing if this is right to do or wrong to do or doesn’t matter.
Sarah Harrison 40:19
It predates a lot of regulation around the field. It’s certainly human motivation to be like, “you jerk, I’ll show you.” But the idea that a doctor would intentionally trick you is very disturbing. On the other hand, I feel like it does happen. And I hear about it happening. But maybe the medical profession gets so specialized, that there’s some unawareness of what’s being prescribed in terms of la holistic evaluation. Doctors do make mistakes. But this was definitely on purpose.
Carolyn Daughters 41:07
The most interesting part for me is this trick that Mr. Candy, the doctor, plays. It happens, and then it just disappears from the story in large part until it’s revealed at the end. Mr. Candy is not a character in the book because of this illness that he has.
Sarah Harrison 41:29
I keep coming back to how serious was it at the time. If you were having sleeping troubles, maybe I’d recommend to you melatonin, which is largely harmless.
Carolyn Daughters 41:40
But you wouldn’t slip me melatonin without telling me.
Sarah Harrison 41:43
I wouldn’t. But at the same time, I could think to myself, “This is harmless. Let me just give it a try.” I wouldn’t. But if you’ve thought of it at that level. Definitely a bad decision on the Mr. Candy’s part.
Carolyn Daughters 42:06
Right. Ezra Jennings comes up with this really interesting plan. He says, let’s recreate the whole scene. So, Franklin, let’s give you some more opium.
Sarah Harrison 42:17
Apparently Ezra Jennings is an opium addict due to his medical condition, and he’s doing all of this neurology research and wants to write a book.
Carolyn Daughters 42:32
So he says, let’s recreate the scene. This is Ezra Jennings playing detective here. Which I think is really cool. We have Inspector Cuff, who is the actual detective at the beginning of the book. We see him at the end of part one, and we see him at the end of part two. And then we get Ezra Jennings trying to recreate the scene. All along, we have Franklin Blake trying to investigate what happened to Rosanna and what happened to the moonstone? Other characters like Gabriel Betteredge, Rosanna, even the boy right, Gooseberry, they’re all playing detective or super spy. They’re following people. They’re trying to figure stuff out. I think it’s really cool having so many detectives in one book.
Sarah Harrison 43:32
That’s true. It’s a book of many detectives.
Carolyn Daughters 43:36
I thought that was so fun. Some of them impressed me more than others. Like Miss Clack, she is hiding behind a curtain to eavesdrop. That is amazing.
Sarah Harrison 43:48
She hid behind the curtain and saw the whole proposal.
Carolyn Daughters 43:51
I was dying when I read this. I was like, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever read. It reminded me of The Woman in White, where Marian Halcombe is outside the window, hanging on for dear life while eavesdropping on Count Fosco’s and Sir Percival’s evil plans. [See our Wilkie Collins podcast episodes on The Woman in White.] So Miss Clack is hiding back there, and I think that’s so interesting. And Rosanna is covering up Franklin’s crime or what she thinks is his crime. And Ezra Jennings is recreating the crime. This is the detective fever that Gabriel Betteredge talks about.
Sarah Harrison 44:33
I liked Ezra a lot. And I thought about his experiment. I’m sure it was a bit out there. But I was surprised at the opposition it met with. I guess that’s just my philosophy of trying things. Is it weird? Maybe. Will it hurt anything? No. Well, then why not? But like the lawyer and Betteredge were like, “This is so stupid. You should never try it. This is the dumbest thing. But there’s literally no big drawback to trying it.
Carolyn Daughters 45:09
But then somewhere along the way as night fell and Franklin has now had his opium and they start to get into it a little bit. Oh, okay, this is interesting.
Sarah Harrison 45:24
To their credit, they’re totally won over. But the opposition to things that are essentially harmless just makes no sense to me.
Carolyn Daughters 45:38
And so there’s this crime at the heart of this book. We’re introduced to it at the very beginning of the book. John Herncastle.
Sarah Harrison 45:55
John Herncastle, the killer.
Carolyn Daughters 45:59
He kills several people, he steals this moonstone.
Sarah Harrison 46:03
He gets moonstone fever at the beginning. It possesses him. It was very interesting.
Carolyn Daughters 46:09
Because he keeps this thing and hides it away throughout his life.
Sarah Harrison 46:13
And it ruins his life. He gets no value from it.
Carolyn Daughters 46:17
He gives it to his niece, either as a gift or as revenge. Because he hates his sister. It’s got a curse on it, this stone. And at the very beginning, there’s a 1799 family paper. And John Herncastle’s cousin writes, “It is my conviction or my delusion that crime brings its own fatality with it.” And the same concept and I believe even possibly that same phrasing is in The Woman in White, this idea that crime brings its own fatality. The crime brings a curse. [See our Wilkie Collins podcast episodes on The Woman in White.]
Sarah Harrison 46:53
I remember that very much from The Woman in White. It was a big discussion where the two villains make fun of them. They’re like, “Oh, is that something you love your little girl’s copybook?” I was like, is that something they like teach in school, the saying that crime brings its own fatality?
Carolyn Daughters 47:12
And yet, Sir Percival and Count Fosco come to their end so that they they are punished in the book’s own way for the crimes they committed. Count Fosco’s secret brotherhood hunt him down and make him pay.
Sarah Harrison 47:37
And you see it here too, I think. And it sounds absurd. It sounds stupid. And I think it’s still a pretty common concept. Maybe it’s even a true concept. I think it’s related to the idea of karma. It’s related to more of the biblical idea of reaping and sowing. What goes around comes around.
Carolyn Daughters 48:03
Crime doesn’t pay.
Sarah Harrison 48:05
But I don’t think we think of it that way. Because you see consequentially that people get away with stuff. But then there’s this other level where you don’t always see what they’re paying. You don’t see, ultimately, if you take the religious view ,the afterlife, what sort of justice is meted out at the end of life. Or what consequences do they live with during their life? Herncastle gets away with it, but he’s alienated his whole family and can never actually use the moonstone for anything.
Carolyn Daughters 48:47
It’s like, you go into a museum and you steal a Picasso. And now it’s in your home. And you can never show anybody thePicasso because the moment you do, the secret’s out, and you’re arrested for stealing the Picasso. So you have this Picasso, you’re like, oh, it’s so amazing. I wish someone else could see my Picasso.
Sarah Harrison 49:07
Ultimately, I probably do subscribe to this view. That even if you criminally get away with it, that there there are effects in your heart and in your relationship and in your mind and in the quality of the life that you lead. That degrades that.
Carolyn Daughters 49:27
At the end, the Brahmins run away with this moonstone. And Inspector Cuff arrives at the end as he did at the end of part one. And he says there’s a chance of laying hands on the Indians and of recovering the moonstone yet. Yet on the last page, the gem the moonstone is returned to the forehead of the god of the moon. What’s your take on the ending of this book?
Sarah Harrison 49:52
They’re never gonna get it back. It went back to where it belongs. That’s my take. Cuff is delusional, and he should drop it. Why would you even try at that point? It wasn’t yours to begin with. Are you gonna to take it back from the temple?
Carolyn Daughters 50:08
Because it’s trying to make the theft of this gem legitimate when it’s not legitimate.
Sarah Harrison 50:17
That’s so weird.
Carolyn Daughters 50:18
Yes. I liked that Wilkie Collins ends The Moonstone with the gem being returned. It’s a satisfying ending, and a great ending for our fourth Wilkie Collins podcast.
Sarah Harrison 50:26
It was almost this primal justice. Whatever Inspector Cuff writes, this thing is going back where it belongs. And everybody’s really happy about it.
Carolyn Daughters 50:35
What would recovering the moonstone mean? It was stolen some period of time earlier, and we can still one day recover it.
Sarah Harrison 50:45
Some 18 year old British girl can wear it to the opera.
Carolyn Daughters 50:49
When she’s not painting her door because she can’t go to the opera on the days when she’s painting. I felt like The Moonstone had a pretty satisfying ending.
Sarah Harrison 51:00
I was glad that it went that direction. I was afraid. I was like, please don’t recover the moonstone. It almost shouldn’t be a plot line. That was my main beef. This shouldn’t be a plot line. They should just give it back now that they found it. It was in hiding, and now here it is.
Carolyn Daughters 51:17
I was concerned, to be honest, that the book was going to end with the moonstone making its way back to Rachel. I’m so glad it didn’t. Because it easily could have.
Sarah Harrison 51:35
I was really glad as well that it went back to where it belongs. What was a little bit sad to me — I didn’t quite understand this deal that the Brahmins had made. In order to be able to recover the moonstone, they had to discard their status and never see each other ever again.
Carolyn Daughters 51:55
Part of it was even leaving their homes was forbidden. Going in search of this moonstone and leaving their homes.
Sarah Harrison 52:07
But it was still expected that they would do it.
Carolyn Daughters 52:10
As Brahmins they are the highest caste. I think they did it out of religious fealty. They believed that this was what they were meant to do. And they could be rewarded for that even though on the surface they might not be rewarded for it.
Sarah Harrison 52:30
Maybe it’s a the next life kind of reward. I thought that was a real bummer, hat tragic ending for them. They went to all this trouble, and they didn’t feel sad at all about their murdering. I’ll just say that.
Carolyn Daughters 52:46
Yes, they were pretty cold about that.
Sarah Harrison 52:52
I felt a little cold about it myself, honestly. Maybe they didn’t have to kill Godfrey, but he clearly had it coming. We didn’t even talk about his home mistress life that he was leading. He had to pay for his mistress’ villa. He got so into crazy debt that he stole the stupid moonstone.
Carolyn Daughters 53:15
Sarah Harrison 53:18
What a weird character.
Carolyn Daughters 53:21
Godfrey, we hardly knew ye. We didn’t get a whole lot of his real perspective. That would have been interesting to really hear Godfrey’s story. Through letters, we did hear Rosanna’s story, and I felt connected to her, and I really liked her as a character. Ezra Jennings we heard in large part through Franklin.
Sarah Harrison 53:46
He gave him some diary entries. So he kind of got to write first person.
Carolyn Daughters 53:52
We got we got some access there. And Ezra Jennings and Rosanna Spearman both have a very sad end.
Sarah Harrison 54:02
I would have liked to hear Gooseberry story. That was the other detective that I was most impressed. Gooseberry, man, that kid was sharp. Even Inspector Cuff was like, “This kid has a great future.”
Carolyn Daughters 54:12
Yeah, this kid would have been a welcome addition, I think, to any police force.
Sarah Harrison 54:21
There should have been a spin off.
Carolyn Daughters 54:24
The Moonstone was published in 1868, and Sherlock Holmes first appears in print in 1887, almost 20 years later. I think it’s obvious that Wilkie Collins influenced Arthur Conan Doyle and many other writers of the late 19th century and into the 20th century. There are so many interesting things that he does in The Moonstone and in The Woman in White, as we’ve discussed in these Wilkie Collins podcast episodes.
Sarah Harrison 55:19
I think we have two Sherlock Holmes books coming up. There’s A Study in Scarlet and The Hound of the Baskervilles. So then I’ll be able to look back. But for me, everything is really retrospective. How do you see this influencing Sherlock Holmes?
Carolyn Daughters 55:59
You have Sherlock Holmes, an outsider, super smart, super interesting, and strange. As we discussed in our last Wilkie Collins podcast episode on part one of The Moonstone, they’re all in this house for this party. The culprit is probably in the house, so you have a small circle of suspects. The secrecy and silence of Rosanna Spearman and of Rachel Verinder. They don’t share really important things. And if they did, it would have opened all kinds of doors way earlier. That secrecy and that willingness to withhold key evidence, that’s critical. And we’re going to see that in our next book, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. Before we wrap up our last Wilkie Collins podcast episode, why don’t you tell us about that.
Sarah Harrison 57:20
It was Australia’s first literary sensation, published in 1886. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide. Set in the charming and deadly streets of Melbourne, this thriller highlights class and social issues, as a crime is committed by an unknown assassin. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to our next book.
Carolyn Daughters 57:44
Our next book is The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. It’s written by Fergus Hume. You can find it on Amazon, or you might find it at your local bookstore, which would be fun.
Sarah Harrison 57:56
It would be. I actually have started using eBay a lot since I noticed a lot of local bookstores put up vintage copies, and I’m a super big fan.
Carolyn Daughters 58:16
Project Gutenberg also has online free versions of the books that we’re reading. If you love reading online, and you don’t want to pay for the Kindle version, go to Project Gutenberg and download an online version. Because a couple of these books are not difficult to get, but with a couple of them you’ve got to work a little harder than if you were just trying to pick up the latest Harry Potter or something like that.
Sarah Harrison 58:53
The Mystery of a Hansom Cab sounds like one of the most accessible books we’ve read so far.
Carolyn Daughters 59:01
It’s short, too. If you’re looking for a short, rewarding page turner, this is the book you’re looking for. And it has the bonus of taking place in Australia, which … how awesome is that? So many of these books take place in England, so it’s fun to have a story set in Melbourne.
Sarah Harrison 59:20
Definitely a different flavor here.
Carolyn Daughters 59:23
We look forward to continuing the conversation with The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. Share your thoughts with us at www.teatonicandtoxin.com. We’re also on Facebook and Instagram @teatonicand toxin.
Sarah Harrison 59:43
Thank you, listeners. Let us know your thoughts!
Lord Peter Wimsey: Whose Body?
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Introducing the irrepressible Lord Peter Wimsey, amateur detective extraordinaire. In this 1923 novel, Dorothy Sayers features a gentleman sleuth who will appear in many books to come. Sarah and Carolyn enjoyed this book immensely. (To be fair, Carolyn wasn't a fan, but Wimsey won her over by the end.) Tell us what YOU think!Listen →
The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Poirot and Hastings
April 13, 2023
Special guest Jill Carstens returns to continue discussing Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles, where we meet Hercule Poirot for the first time. He’s a methodical marvel who’s nonplussed by the affairs, awkward proposals, loveless marriages, and privileged egotism of the various suspects. Poirot is delightful, much like Sarah, Carolyn, and Jill.Listen →
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
April 9, 2023
Sarah, Carolyn, and special guest Jill Carstens would like to spend some time at Styles Court. Strolls around the grounds, hours spent reading each day, afternoon tea, evening libations … An outlier among a cast of selfish characters, Hercule Poirot is sympathetic, smart, and, of course, THE foremost master of detection.Listen →