I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.
When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her.
But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.
***The Summer of Sherlock 2019***
”With your penchant for diminishing a man to little more than a shell of his former manhood, it never ceases to amaze me that you managed to receive all the proposals you did.”
She had indeed reaped her fair share, including one from his brother, Lord Bancroft, her favorite proposal of them all.
“It’s my decolletage--when gentlemen stare at my bosom they don’t hear a word I say. I strongly believe that if trees sprouted breasts tomorrow they would soon be wearing wedding rings.”
What a pleasant surprise! Of all the Holmes pastiche that I have read this summer, this was by far the most original and entertaining. I loved Charlotte Holmes, a young debutante who sees no future to be desired in marriage and has difficulty mastering the small talk and calorie control that is expected of her. She accidentally scares many people with her observations and has a tendency to eviscerate the men who dare to approach. Despite this, she received numerous proposals, all of which she has refused to her parents great unhappiness.
Charlotte makes a deal with her father--if she reaches 18 without finding a man she wishes to marry, he will foot the bill for her education as she attempts to become the administrator of a girls school. When Charlotte reaches that age and tries to obtain her desire, her father reneges.
This novel consists of the adventures of a young Victorian woman discovering a way to support herself and remain independent of the men in her life. Part of this is the development of her alter-ego, Sherlock Holmes. With the widow Mrs. Watson by her side (John Watson, as it happens, was killed and buried in Afghanistan).
Books like this one are wish-fulfillment stories for those of us women who choose to remain single and support ourselves. I wish there had been more of this kind of imaginative history available when I was a much younger woman. As it is, I still enjoyed it a great deal and I can hardly wait to get my hands on the next book.