Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Book Report/The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
by Nancy Springer
unabridged recording read by Katherine Kellgren
young adult mystery, 2007
finished, 3/26/08

I realized that what I like about the Enola Holmes series, and the Mary Russell series, is that Sherlock Holmes is more human in them. He shows warmth and humor. I'm not a scholar of the Conan Doyle books by any means, but having picked them up off and on over the years, they have always seemed serious and dark. Holmes hasn't been very appealing to me as a character. In Laurie R. King's marvelous series, Mary is first Holmes' friend and then wife. Though there is a great difference in their ages, they are complete soul-mates. In Nancy Springer's series, in each book we see Holmes more and more as a caring man. In The Case of the Missing Marquess, the first in this new series, we meet him, and he seems like the Holmes in the Conan Doyle books, but as the story moves on, through The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, and now this latest one, we get to see a man who has real feeling for his sister. And in this book, even the older brother, Mycroft shows a kinder side. Still, these two family members, and her "free-spirit" mother, play second fiddle to the character of Enola (remember her name backwards spells, alone). She is quite a wonderful fourteen year old. This book begins with the fact that Dr Watson is missing. Enola, in one of her many disguises, goes to visit his wife, and sees a bouquet of flowers that is indeed bizarre. The blooms signify death. And there is asparagus, whose meaning we find out at the end. Enola feels sure there will be another bouquet, and when it arrives, the adventure proceeds. These books are in the young adult category, but honestly I think they appeal more to an older reader, who knows a bit about Victorian times and Sherlock Holmes. In each book, we learn more about the characters and about a different phase of life in those times. The Bizarre Bouquets shows us how easy it was to commit someone, especially a woman, to a life in a mental institution. The man had utter power over his wife and her destiny. All the books have delightful codes and use of the language of flowers, both talents taught the young girl by her otherwise not-so-nuturing "mum." I love these books, and eagerly wait for Nancy Springer to write some more.


  1. This sounds fascinating, Nan. It's really shocking to realise how fragile and powerless some women were!

    I'm reading "Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders" just now and Conan Doyle is one of the characters. Wilde (in this book) copies Holmes' style and methods - close observation and lots of deduction from very small detail. It's great fun.

  2. Margaret, I got half-way through OW and the CM and quit! I loved it at first. And then I began to find it slow, and the characters not likeable, and I was slogging through so I gave it up.


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