I've been meaning to read this book for years, and I only just got to it this year. Once I started reading it, I finished it in just a couple days. (First book of the year!...Don't worry, I finished it forever ago. I'm just behind on reviews.)
I think it would be hard for anyone to dislike this book (despite the weird Mormon stuff--which I'll get to in a minute). Like most people, I've seen adaptations of Sherlock Holmes and loved them. The original book did not disappoint. Holmes himself was just as awkward, egotistical, brilliant, condescending, and all-around fantastic as a character as every adaptation had made him out to be.
Now that I've seen the original character, I really love the way he lends himself to interpretation. Robert Downey, Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch play Holmes in two distinct ways, and neither of these is the "original Holmes"--but each of them is right. There really is no "one Holmes" that everyone is trying to imitate. Sherlock Holmes is a character that can be taken in many different directions, and that's what I loved about him.
After taking a Victorian literature class that focused on short fiction, I thought this Sherlock Holmes story was a great example of Victorian short fiction (albeit a little long). Lighthearted and intriguing, it's completely fun, but it has some thought-provoking themes, as well. It never pretends to be Shakespeare, but it's great in its own way.
Now for a quick note on the Mormon weirdness...
Is it weird that I had NO idea this part was coming? I guess I haven't really seen that many adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, but I'd never even heard of this entire section of the book. I guess screenwriters and directors try to avoid it. I would, too. (I should probably mention that I'm actually a Mormon, myself, so the "weirdness" I'm talking about is not the fact that Mormons appeared in the book, but that they were described as such a creepy, cultish group.) Anyway, I have to admit the fictionalized portrayal of the early Mormons was pretty funny, what with all the secret murders and whatnot. I assume that Doyle's version of Mormonism was based on the popular prejudices of the time. Just hope everyone who reads the book today realizes that Doyle's portrayal of Mormons was largely fictionalized. :)
Ha! I am tickled that you didn't know. Yep, Doyle made it up out of rumor and imagination--but did you know that years later he visited SLC and apologized? So I have read, anyway. I do love Holmes and my 13yo is reading them now.ReplyDelete
Well, that's certainly a nice thought! I didn't feel like it was particularly mean-spirited, just kind of a misunderstanding that offered a convenient plot, haha. It was so weird not to have known before I began that when it first came up, I kept wondering if it was some sort of practical joke and if I was on candid camera... :P Haha.Delete
I read it first when I was very little, and I was THRILLED by the Mormon part :) Now, of course, I know it's not true, as I've googled about them a bit after Jean hinted me that Doyle was not exactly an expert :) But it's still a very nicely written piece of fiction!ReplyDelete
Yes, it is!Delete
I can never decide if this is a long short story or a short novel/novella. Either way, I love the whole introduction of these characters, both to each other and to us. So delicious. Also, my real first name is Rachel, and so the whole speculation about that name always makes me grin.ReplyDelete
Not being Mormon myself, I don't have a lot of feelings one way or the other about the Mormon weirdness, except that it seems so very much like filler. I complained about that in my own review last year, in fact.
So glad you got to read this! :-D
I agree with you that it felt like filler. I did get bored with it, even though it was sort of amusing. Like you, I wished it would get on with the real story...especially because the real story was mostly over by that point and, like you said, he could have explained his motives easily in just a couple pages.Delete