Opening line: “To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex.”
Well this was a surprise; the classics and especially mysteries are not my usual fare but due to my recent obsession with the BBC series Sherlock (How yummy is Benedict Cumberbatch) and then watching Downey and Jude Law in the movie Game Of Shadows I realized that I had never actually read any of Conan Doyle’s stories. After some research trying to figure out where to begin, I eventually bought The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes and settled on this story. And wow, I didn’t expect to enjoy this half as much as I did (or at all for that matter) but I guess this is why Sherlock Holmes is still relatable today.
I’d initially expected to have to put in considerable effort just to get through this, I mean it was written in 1892 so it was bound to be very, well, literary. You know all formal and tedious. In fact I’d anticipated needing a dictionary just to be able to understand what the characters were talking about, but to my surprise A Scandal In Bohemia turned out to be an absolute delight to read. The actual story is quite basic yet also filled with complexities and hidden meanings and I would also have to call this a romance -of sorts. It’s also funny, relevant, cunning, witty, romantic and ultimately sad. What a great introduction to the world of Sherlock Holmes.
Told from Dr. Watsons POV (now that I didn’t know -I’d just assumed these were Sherlock’s stories.) We begin with Watson “dropping by” Baker Street to visit Holmes. He hasn’t been by his old residence or seen Holmes of late due to his recent marriage and the two have drifted apart. I guess you could say he feels nervous about visiting because he never really knows what state Holmes will be in; elated, depressed, manic, high on opium or cocaine or in some clever disguise? It’s always a bit of a crap shoot. In any case he appears happy today and also excited due to the prospect of a new and exciting case. Sherlock then asks if Watson will assist him...
“I shall be delighted”
“You don’t mind breaking the law?”
“Not in the least.”
“Nor running a chance of arrest?”
“Not in good cause.”
“Oh the cause is excellent.”
“Then I am your man.”
“I was sure that I could rely on you.”
The client turns out to be the King of Bohemia; he requires Holmes’ assistance in obtaining an incriminating photograph of himself and one Irene Adler before he marries. It seems this past affair would ruin him because of her “station.” So far the King has tried unsuccessfully to buy it (she won’t sell) to bribe her servants and finally even to steal it but Ms. Adler is always one step ahead. Holmes dons several disguises throughout his case, first as a groomsman to gain access to Adler’s property and spy on her and then later as an (injured) clergyman. Irene Adler is a fantastic character, gaining the upper hand and in the end even outsmarting Holmes. I suppose it’s her cleverness that causes Holmes to fall for her and why in the end she becomes known only as the woman. Cheers 305jb5