The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins: The Book, Film Adaptations and Audio Dramatization

the moonstone

After reading The Woman in White, it is natural to move on to the next Wilkie Collins’ novel, The Moonstone. The novel is presented as a series of letters written by different authors connecting events related to the moonstone, a hefty yellow diamond.

The Moonstone, looted during a siege of an Indian city, was bequeathed by the looter John Herncastle to his niece Rachel Verinder for her 18th birthday. Shortly after her birthday party, the jewel was stolen. Everyone in the house was suspect but who was the real culprit?

This could have been a commonplace tale of the detection of a jewel thief but Collins weaved in so much more. Romance, misunderstandings, secrets, honour, and addiction.

The Moonstone did not have as many adaptations as The Woman in White. I found the following:

The Moonstone 1934 US Movie

Considering this film was made by a small Hollywood outfit more known for their cheaply made Westerns. it isn’t too bad. I know Collins’ fans would probably disagree.

A limited budget and a standard running time meant dropping a fair amount of material from the original novel. I can understand logistics considerations for setting the period to the 1930s, but why did the producers choose a lengthy period novel to adapt in the first place?

The Moonstone 1972 TV Series

British film producers have an advantage when it comes to dramatizing British novels. They have impressive locations and great actors :). The costumes not so much.

Robin Ellis starred as Franklin Blake and Vivien Heilbron as Rachel Verinder.

The Moonstone 1997 TV movie

A 2-hour television dramatization with Greg Wise as Franklin Blake and Keeley Hawes as Rachel Verinder.

The Moonstone TV Series 2016

Another attempt at television dramatization after nearly 20 years. Joshu Silver as Franklin Blake, Terenia Edwards as Rachel Verinder. I thought this series captured a few things right:

  1. The sinister danger Rachel was in when she decided to travel with Ablewhite
  2. The agitated state Franklin was in under the influence of the laudanum

Unabridged Audiobook by LibriVox

The novel is a long one. The audiobook is nearly 20 hours long. It is read by different people so consistency is an issue. They are all volunteers so I must not complain.

BBC Radio Adaptation

Since the audiobook is so long, a shorter radio adaptation might be better.

Read the Book

It is my personal opinion that none of the adaptations above is as good as reading the book itself. I find it very readable although the yarn is a little long.

Digitized copies of the book (in several volumes) can be found at Google Books but they are hard to read. The public domain version is also freely available at Project Gutenberg.

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