The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Bizarre BouquetsFor the third time, Enola Holmes, the fictional younger sister of the equally fictional Sherlock Holmes, is traipsing the streets of London. She is yet attempting to be a perditorian, a finder of lost persons, while at the same time trying desperately to avoid detection by her older brother Sherlock whom she finds both irksome and admirable.

Her case, in this story, is personal as well as perplexing. Dr. John Watson, confidant of both the Holmes’ has gone missing and though he has turned all of his considerable efforts towards solving this case, it seems that Sherlock is baffled.  Enola, on the other hand, seems to be onto the right trail but very possibly over her head and in desperate trouble.  Dr. Watson has been kind, considerate and even friendly toward Enola—though he is unaware of her true identity– and now he is in peril of his life.  Should she abandon her quest to be independent of the male dominated social order, reveal herself to Sherlock, seek his help and perhaps, in the end, be “imprisoned” in a boarding school for young ladies?  Or should she, as she has done before, rely on her wits and intelligence to see her through although it may cost her her life?  There were many hard decisions to be made in Victorian England, especially if your last name was Holmes.

Enola is a fascinating, contrary, endearing and vexing young lady with almost both her feet firmly rooted in the fashions and mores of 19th century upper class Britain.  Every once in a while she does slip out of the Victorian Age and into the 21st century, but she is supposed to be a modern thinker…  Author Nancy Springer has done a remarkable job in continuing to “flesh out” her character as the series has progressed.  One moment Enola is a motherless, bewildered school girl, the next she’s donning a complex disguise, roaming the midnight streets of London’s East End posing as a mute nun serving the poor or worried about showing too much ankle as she chases an urchin down the street.

Through Enola—and her many aliases–in The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets readers get a close look at the rules which bound the lives of Victorian women, who she may or may not associate with, how quickly she may walk (and, heaven forbid, never stop on the street, even for a moment, when unescorted by a male), what she can wear, which areas of her body can be exposed to public view, etc.  Enola finds it all very chafing and readers though fascinated, will, too.  However, with humor and cunning she manages to skirt those issues and be an observer as well as a participant of 19th century British life.  With a solid mystery, intriguing social commentary, not a small touch of humor and her complex family relationships, Enola will, I hope continue to keep both her brother Sherlock and her loyal readers on their toes for many more adventures.

Posted by: Eileen

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