To celebrate the release of her novel Barefoot on Baker Street, Charlotte Anne Walters undertook the task of reading and reviewing one of the original Sherlock Holmes short stories every day until she had completed all 56. The reviews were posted daily on her blog and attracted viewers from all over the world. The reviews are full of humour and Holmesian insight, ending in a score out of ten for each story. The book contains all 56 blogs plus additional material including reviews of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s four Holmes novels.
Although it was a pleasure for a life-long Holmes admirer to re-visit the stories, trying to do this on top of holding down a busy full-time job and family commitments was a big challenge – resulting in some stressful but comical moments detailed in the blogs. Even Mr Walters couldn’t resist throwing in a few comments of his own.
Here's day 1 - A Scandal in Bohemia
I just don’t think Irene Adler did anywhere near enough to be the woman.
I’ve always had a problem with this story for that very reason. All she did was have a liaison with the king of Bohemia (well ok, I suppose that’s not exactly an everyday sort of occurrence), kept a photo of the two of them together and threatened to expose him when he dumped her for someone of more suitable birth.
Then, when Holmes gains entry into her house disguised as an injured clergyman, she realises that his sudden cries of “Fire!” are false, just as she is about to retrieve the photo and reveal it’s hiding place. When Holmes returns the following day to get the photo, she has taken it and fled. Well, surely that’s just common sense, not really outwitting him?
And besides, Watson makes it perfectly clear that, ‘It was not that (Holmes) felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler’.
Watson then goes on to explain that - ‘All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind.’ This does indeed suggest that Holmes has never felt love, though certainly doesn’t rule out sexual experience, in my opinion. It does also add weight to the argument that Holmes may have had autistic tendencies, or possibly Asperger’s syndrome, as I believe a lack of emotion can be a symptom. This is further reinforced by the line – ‘While Holmes, who loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul...’
Surely for a woman to capture his heart, she too must be emotionally complex and on the outskirts of society?
For a writer, the opening paragraph of A Scandal gives much inspiration and I certainly have examined such issues in Barefoot. There is also mention in the second paragraph of Holmes’ use of cocaine, the drowsiness this gives him and the fierce energy of his own nature. This supports the explanation I present in Barefoot that Holmes’ drug use is not to stimulate his mind but rather to quieten it, to subdue the compulsions to observe and the constant rush of mental process which is as much a blessing as a curse to him.
So much from just two paragraphs. To be honest, for me, it all goes a bit downhill from there.
A Scandal in Bohemia scores - 5 out of 10.
56 Sherlock Stories in 56 Days