Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Review: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I've officially finished the third (and possibly final) Sherlock Holmes book I intended to read for the Victorian Literature Challenge. I may go on to read the rest of them; the more of them I read, the more I find myself enjoying them. I find I prefer the volumes containing shorter mysteries preferable to those with feature-length, as it were, stories. The longer ones seem to get wordy and bogged down, and veer off on bizarre tangents. For the most part, the shorter stories are far more coherent.

One thing I've started to find intriguing about Sherlock Holmes novels in the presence of a great deal of commentary on gender roles. Holmes often finds himself sought after by wronged women. In those days in England, women had very few legal rights. In fact, virtually the only right they had was the right to inherit property and pass it down to their children; however, this property (or money) was pretty much always controlled by either a male relative or their husband. It appears that jealous relatives and gold-digging potential spouses attempting to deprive women of their inheritances was such a common occurrence that the theme pops up in several mysteries. In fact, most of the mysteries which feature women characters involve inheritance theft in some form or other. I found that pretty interesting, and filed it away in my mental list of reasons why I'm don't think life in the Victorian era was particularly romantic (most of the reasons boil down to wanting to 1) have rights and 2) not die of cholera).

Very enjoyable. 4 out of 5 stars.

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