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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Case of the Left Handed Lady, written by Nancy Springer. Penguin Group (Canada), 2007. $7.50 ages 8 and up

"I shivered with fear.
Of my brother Sherlock, whom I adored.
He was my hero. He was my nemesis. I very
nearly worshipped him. But if he tracked me down,
I would lose my freedom forever.
Yet - he was distraught on my account?"

Do I recall telling you that I am not a mystery buff? Now, I can tell you that writers such as Shane Peacock, Nancy Springer and Alan Bradley have certainly put paid to that mindset. What amazing writers!

I read the first Enola Holmes mystery (The Case of the Missing Marquess) a couple of years ago and was intrigued to get to know the young girl whose name is alone, spelled backwards, who has a wayward and seemingly unfit mother, and who is pestered by two older brothers (Sherlock and Mycroft) who want her to take her position in society as a young and cultured woman. Now, that is a heavy load for Enola, who brims with a sense of wonder at the world, a need to be all that she can be, and enough spunk to do it on her own at a time in history where women are mostly 'seen not heard'.

I am also going to tell you that I would much rather be living in 1960s England with Flavia than in late nineteenth century Victorian London with early Sherlock or then later with his sister, Enola. Both Shane Peacock and Nancy Springer create a setting that is stark, dangerous and aching with poverty, street grime and crime. The feeling is palpable.

Enola's story is fraught with worry...worry about their sister by her brothers, especially Sherlock, worry by Enola for the poor and downtrodden in the streets of London who have nothing but despair, worry for Lady Cecily who has disappeared without a trace and is found floudering under the influence of a mesmerizing maniac, worry for a long absent mother who is alive and rarely communicative, and worry that her brother Sherlock will find her and try to make her over in the image that he feels is important to a young woman of the time. So much is on her plate...yet, she remains determined to stay independent, is feisty and quite brilliant in her detective work, and dilgently solves the case that is plaguing her.

You will like Enola and admire her grit and determination at a time when young women were not expected, or even wanted, to possess such a thing! I'm on to the next case...

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