It really must be read more than once. And read out loud. To read it silently is like contemplating a beautifully pieced quilt at a distance--to read i...moreIt really must be read more than once. And read out loud. To read it silently is like contemplating a beautifully pieced quilt at a distance--to read it out loud is to run your fingers over its surface and find it mesmerizingly satin-sleek. (less)
I read this for the first time around 7th or 8th grade, and remember enjoying it even if I didn't appreciate it quite as much at the...more(Re-read 7/29/08)
I read this for the first time around 7th or 8th grade, and remember enjoying it even if I didn't appreciate it quite as much at the time. I think Meyer does a brilliant job in expanding on the canonical Holmes in a way that is not only plausible in context but psychologically intriguing, as well as a great deal of fun. I will say that the train chase verges on overmuch (it would do well in a movie but, in print, was almost too much to take in). But as for Freud--I will merely grin and say, well, why not?
Having re-read this makes me realize that Laurie R. King likely nods in passing to Meyer throughout the Mary Russell series. Especially in A Monstrous Regiment of Women.
(As an aside: Nicholas Meyer wrote the screenplay for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He also, if I remember correctly, had at least a part in writing Star Trek VI.)
(See my review for book 3, A Letter of Mary....the thoughts below pick up where it leaves off)
...Along the same lines, one thing that surprises me in...more(See my review for book 3, A Letter of Mary....the thoughts below pick up where it leaves off)
...Along the same lines, one thing that surprises me in this book is that Russell complains that the Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould's treatment of theology is haphazard--yet doesn't seem to realize that he's not merely evaluating theology, he's doing it. (Which means that as a scholar herself she needs to be evaluating what he's doing on its own terms.) Again--deliberate on King's part, or a flaw in her ability to portray this particular character?
(On a similar note, because the pet peeve fits well here: Russell at one point complains that Sunday is the day that the Christians "mistakenly call the Sabbath." However...it is the Christian Sabbath. And there are a number of distinctly Christian reasons why it is so. Therefore, for Christians to call it their Sabbath is not a mistake. Russell could get away with this remark if she were merely Jewish, but she's a scholar of theology who appears to focus a great deal on Christian history and interpretation at Oxford. Was she simply being irritable, or surprisingly unthoughtful?)
Yes, I nitpick because I love this series and read it over and over. Even the books I like less, I still enjoy. So I can complain if I like.
But here's a neat little ironic historical tie-in and one of the reasons I love and enjoy Laurie R. King's work so much. (I like layers. Complex ones.) Why write Sherlock Holmes into the life of the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould? According to the Wikipedia entry on Sabine Baring Gould, one of Baring-Gould's grandsons, William Stuart Baring Gould, was "a noted Sherlock Holmes scholar who wrote a fictional biography of the great detective—in which, to make up for the lack of information about Holmes's early life, he based his account on the childhood of Sabine Baring-Gould." Laurie R. King, in turn, cheekily writes a fictional biography of S. Baring-Gould in which the great detective not only appears, but is supplied with a childhood--at least in part--in the revelation that the Reverend Baring-Gould is Sherlock Holmes' godfather. And thus the line between fiction and reality doubles over and blurs still more...
As Russell observes in her preface to The Beekeeper's Apprentice, "I do not remember when I first realised that the flesh-and-blood Sherlock Holmes I knew so well was to the rest of the world merely a figment of an out-of-work medical doctor's powerful imagination. What I do remember is how the realisation took my breath away, and how for several days my own self-awareness became slightly detached, tenuous, as if I too were in the process of transmuting into fiction, by contagion with Holmes."
"But the pleasure he must be content only to remember?"
"That is like saying 'My food I must be content to eat.'" "I do not understand....moreA favorite quote:
"But the pleasure he must be content only to remember?"
"That is like saying 'My food I must be content to eat.'" "I do not understand."
"A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered. You are speaking, Hman, as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing....What you call remembering is the last part of the pleasure, as the crah is the last part of a poem. When you and I met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing. Now it is growing something as I remember it. But we still know very little about it. What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then---that is the real meeting. The other is only the beginning of it. You say you have poets in your world. Do they not teach you this?"
----from Chapter 12 of Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis(less)
Not a particular favorite. A classic in Christian apologetics, but it's a bit stuffy--it has the whiff of Lewis' cigar smoke and dark wood-paneled lib...moreNot a particular favorite. A classic in Christian apologetics, but it's a bit stuffy--it has the whiff of Lewis' cigar smoke and dark wood-paneled library. I happen to like that on occasion, but it's not for everybody.
A memorable quote:
If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning (Mere Christianity, Book II, Chapter 1).
Originally read in 1995. Reread for Spoiler Party in 2013.
"The judge was astounded by the excited response. Angela could not be the bomber, not that s...moreOriginally read in 1995. Reread for Spoiler Party in 2013.
"The judge was astounded by the excited response. Angela could not be the bomber, not that sweet, pretty thing. Thing? Is that how she regarded that young woman, as a thing? And what had she ever said to her except 'I hear you're getting married, Angela,' or 'How pretty you look, Angela.' Had anyone asked about her ideas, her hopes, her plans? If I had been treated like that I'd have used dynamite, not fireworks; no, I would have just walked right out and kept right on going" (p. 130).(less)
Old favorite. I revisited it for old time's sake, in the first week after I moved back home from school--oddly enough, just a short time before Alexan...moreOld favorite. I revisited it for old time's sake, in the first week after I moved back home from school--oddly enough, just a short time before Alexander died. I didn't realize how truly annoying Taran was in the first book (and deliberately so--Alexander wants us to appreciate how we mature through our experiences) until I re-read it as an adult. The first time I read it, I must have been in my early teens. In time, I hope to re-read through the entirety of the Prydain Chronicles--which I recommend without reservation. Other favorites by Alexander include the Westmark books and The Incredible Journey of Prince Jen.
The books in Pierce's Song of the Lionness series were my favorite books of all time until probably around middle school. However, I didn't read Book...moreThe books in Pierce's Song of the Lionness series were my favorite books of all time until probably around middle school. However, I didn't read Book 1 until long after I'd read Books 2-4--because when I first found In the Hand of the Goddess, I was only in second or third grade and it was shelved with the last two books in the young adult section and I hadn't figured out how to use the Dewey decimal system yet to find the first one, which was shelved with in the children's section. True story. I think what I liked most about the books was that they were about a girl I could relate to--that I wanted to relate to, because she was brave and adventurous. Girl-knights, magic, adventure--maybe not the stuff of great literature, but enough to spark my child's imagination. I would check these books out of the library multiple times in a year so I could read them one more time. (less)
Book three begins to drag, somewhat. Obviously written before the Da Vinci Code craze--I can't see many authors trying to pull off a mystery centered...moreBook three begins to drag, somewhat. Obviously written before the Da Vinci Code craze--I can't see many authors trying to pull off a mystery centered around a lost scripture featuring Mary Magdalene as apostle after all that. It's old hat now. I also think it's here that, on re-reading, I first began to sense that Russell's theology studies at Oxford are terribly broad and ambiguous, and never seem to tinge her take on the world except in the most abstract sense--that is, of course, until an unavoidably "religious" case is thrust upon her. And even then she lacks a certain--instinct? Naturalness? It's up for grabs whether or not this is deliberate on the part of the author (who did, in book two, go to pains to purposely demonstrate in Russell's confrontations with Margery Childe that one of Russell's faults is to be stiffly mechanical in her dealings with faith), or a reflection of how Laurie R. King herself wants Mary to have the exotic flair of a theologian-sleuth, but falters, for whatever reason, in trying to form it as an organic part of Russell's character.
"I had met Sherlock Holmes at a time when adolescence and the devastating circumstances of my orphaning had left me with an exterior...moreA favorite quote:
"I had met Sherlock Holmes at a time when adolescence and the devastating circumstances of my orphaning had left me with an exterior toughness and an interior that was malleable to the personality of anyone willing to listen to me and take me seriously. Had Holmes been a cat burglar or forger, no doubt I should have come into adulthood learning to walk parapets at night or concocting arcane inks."
More Mary Russell. I like the first book best, but this one isn't bad at all. It's very good. And I enjoy the acrobatics.
"I was merely going to say that I hope you realise that guilt is a poor foundation for a life, without other motivations beside it."
- The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Many of my friends know that I'm enamored of what has been called "'Mary Sue Sherlock Holmes fan-fic." (I bite my thumb at thee: you know who you are!) I've been listening to this one on audio cassette, courtesy of a cassette tape purge at the public library. It was only a dollar and I got it on a trip downtown to the main library with Jenny.
A heartbreaking, ultimately beautifully executed story of a disastrous mission to a new world that explores the mystery of suffering and what Mary Dor...moreA heartbreaking, ultimately beautifully executed story of a disastrous mission to a new world that explores the mystery of suffering and what Mary Doria Russell describes as the 'complex personality' of God.