Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Summer Challenge: A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes) by Arthur Conan Doyle (Classics)

I admit I read this book because of a love of the TV series BBC Sherlock. But my love of that TV show has nothing to do with my new love for the book, A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle. 

10943536

Series: Sherlock Holmes, Book 1

Genres: Classic, Mystery (Crime), Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 stars

Description:

In the debut of literature’s most famous sleuth, a dead man is discovered in a bloodstained room in Brixton. The only clues are a wedding ring, a gold watch, a pocket edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron, and a word scrawled in blood on the wall. With this investigation begins the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Their search for the murderer uncovers a story of love and revenge-and heralds a franchise of detective mysteries starring the formidable Holmes.

Book Review:

I admit I read this book because of a love of the TV series BBC Sherlock. But my love of that TV show has nothing to do with my new love for the book, A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle.

The writing style of this book completely surprised me by being not too difficult for a young adult audience, but complex enough to feel like a classic, while still being extremely engaging. This book also felt quite short, which allowed me to finish it in one afternoon but feel sad that it was over so soon.

The first part of the book is what I was expecting — the story of meeting Sherlock and observing him solve a crime, narrated by Dr. Watson himself. However, I was completely unprepared when part two completely changed scene, point of view, and characters. Instead, part two tells the story of a man and his adopted daughter lost in the American desert, who are then taken in by Mormons. The daughter falls in love with the eventual murderer in the crime Sherlock and Watson solve, and part two is clearly the back explanation for the murderer’s reasons for committing the crime.

When I first began reading part two, I was quite confused and disappointed to have switched so suddenly and without explanation to a different location and story genre and style, but soon enjoyed it nonetheless. I liked how although part two did not feel like a mystery story, and we were not treated with the amazing characters of Sherlock and Watson, Arthur Conan Doyle still proved his amazing writing skill by keeping the reader hooked the whole time.

One of my favorite parts is when Dr. Watson writes up a list of Sherlock’s limits while he is still getting to know him (not that he ever completely “knows” him).

“SHERLOCK HOLMES—his limits.

1. Knowledge of Literature.—Nil.
2. Philosophy.—Nil.
3. Astronomy.—Nil.
4. Politics.—Feeble.
5. Botany.—Variable. Well up in belladonna,
opium, and poisons generally.
Knows nothing of practical gardening.
6. Geology.—Practical, but limited.
Tells at a glance different soils
from each other. After walks has
shown me splashes upon his trousers,
and told me by their colour and
consistence in what part of London
he had received them.
7. Chemistry.—Profound.
8. Anatomy.—Accurate, but unsystematic.
9. Sensational Literature.—Immense. He appears
to know every detail of every horror
perpetrated in the century.
10. Plays the violin well.
11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.”

When looking up interesting facts for Gwen & Kate’s Library 100th blog post, I discovered three interesting articles about Arthur Conan Doyle and the Sherlock Holmes books (here and here) from my favorite Interesting Literature blog.

I am looking forward to reading more of Sherlock’s adventures next in The Sign of the Four and the rest of Arthur Conan Doyle’s books (as well as Season 4 of BBC Sherlock).

Genre Review: Classics

I have never been much of a fan of the classics, although I have loved a select few, including To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee and 1984 by George Orwell, but this book may have been the gateway book into a love of the genre.

As soon as I finished reading this book, I began to look up other famous classics to read (after my huge list of other summer challenge books plus others on my to-read list). Some of the others that piqued my interest included Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, and The Once and Future King by T. H. White. Although I completed a Top Ten Tuesday list recently about the classics genre, it was through the reading of this book that I really became interested. I think this is the only classic I have read so far that has kept my interest for the entire book, and I hope it will not be the last!

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