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Sunday, September 18, 2011

On rereading

While it's remained high summer in our valley, with temps still in the mid-90s last week, autumn looks a long way off. But I've found a way to turn the leaves their brilliant colors, anticipate a bit of frost on the pumpkin and commemorate the lengthening evenings. And that's by rereading what has become my "autumn" book, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. (To add to this year's pleasures of rereading, we'll be discussing the novel in early October at 4 Mystery Addicts, a marvelous mystery-reading online community.)

I don't remember what season it was when I first read this uber-detective novel. But over the years, turning to this story of Rachel Verinder's unlucky birthday present, hero Franklin Blake, the intrepid Sgt. Cuff, tragic Rosanna Spearman and supremely assured narrator Gabriel Betteredge has meant a return to slower times. To me, slower times is synonymous with those longer evenings. It means removing myself from the frenetic, frantic daily schedule of the workday and TV-online overload of information. And I love it. Slower times, longer evenings, time to think, to savor, to make my own meaning out of what I read.

Knowing what happens in the story doesn't diminish my pleasure in reading the novel. It's like watching a favorite movie again. I take as great a delight in Gabriel lecturing us about Robinson Crusoe as the font of wisdom as I do in Bogey and Claude Rains discussing Rick's reasons for coming to Casablanca ("I like to think you killed a man; it's the romantic in me.")

I've also found different aspects of the story stand out to me in the different rereadings. Rosanna, for example, didn't have as great an impact on me when I was young as she did after I'd loved and lost myself. And the first time it hit me what a nasty old prune Drusilla Clack is and how her interference reminds me of certain "I know better than you" types in modern society, well, it wasn't the first time I read the book.

So here's to the pleasures of rereading. Whether it's rediscovering a once well-loved but long-neglected favorite or reading a book you know as well as you know your parents' most-often related tales, just knowing the outcome is only one layer in the joy of reading.


  1. I'm sure I must have read The Moonstone before, but for the life of me can't remember it. A good reason to pick it up again. Enjoy it!

  2. I hope you enjoy what you are reading right now as well. What book would you currently recommend?