Farthing by Jo Walton
I’ve really enjoyed the Jo Walton novels that I’ve read—Tooth and Claw and Among Others—but neither blew my world up. I’d heard really good things about her Small Change trilogy (so named because the novels in it are Farthing, Ha’Penny, and Half a Crown), but my past experience with her didn’t send me out to the library immediately to pick up Farthing. It sort of meandered across my currently hypothetical desk at the end of June, languishing until I needed something to break the good-but-average rut my reading was in. Said rut was absolutely shattered.
The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin
Let’s face it, Sherlock Holmes has rarely been a hotter commodity than at this moment—sure, he’s always been around, but he seems inescapable at the moment. We’ve got a successful film franchise gearing up for its third entry, to say nothing of the smash hit of Sherlock. Everybody and their mom watches it, the fandom is so ravenous that the production team can’t keep up, and it’s won awards. It’s so popular that CBS has decided to slice up a piece of the Holmesian pie for themselves in their very own Sherlock Holmes show, Elementary, coming to television screens this fall. We got our first look at the show on Thursday, and, guys… I’m concerned.
The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Y’all, this is the final Sherlock Holmes novel. I have two collections left go and that’s it; I will only reread the Sherlock Holmes canon in the future. I’m struggling between tearing through the rest of it (His Last Bow and The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, which I’ll actually have to rent from the library) and trying to savor it, like a good piece of dark chocolate, but I always end just eating it. At the very least, I’ll be done by the end of the year. The Valley of Fear is less known than the other three, especially The Hound of the Baskervilles or A Study in Scarlet, and, I have to admit, it’s for good reason.
Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? Who and what about them did you love?
Would you like that list alphabetized or arranged in chronological order? I’m from fandom; this is something I do all the time. For the sake of time, I’ll just highlight a few of my beloved literary characters this morning.
John Watson, Mary Morstan, and Irene Adler from Sherlock Holmes. Not that I don’t love Holmes, but Watson is such a good, loyal, and capable gentleman. The same goes for Mary, his own beloved, whose neglected death in the books I am not looking forward to, and I just love Irene to pieces.
Daenaerys from A Song of Ice and Fire. If you have to ask, you probably haven’t met her.
Cal from Middlesex. He’s more of a person than a character to me, especially after listening to the audiobook.
My dear and beloved readers, something momentous has occurred. While talking to my friend Andrea on Sunday, I felt strange. After all this time, I’m ready. I finally actively want to read mystery. Of course, my definition of mystery is a bit broader than most, given my long break from the genre…
The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
So… I had a lot of feelings about Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. (I just weep about the latest season of Sherlock.) But it did inspire me to take The Return of Sherlock Holmes along with me to Ireland, so I could start on it when I had a chance. And so I did, but it took me into the first proper week of February to finish it, although that wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it. …You know, I often feel like the introductions to my reviews of the Holmes canon can’t really be anything but “so, yeah, I’m still reading this and I’m still loving it”, so let’s just dive in.
Have you every written any fanfiction? If yes, why and for which book(s)? If no, would you like to and for which books(s)?
For that matter, do you ever READ fanfiction?
Oh, of course! Not for books, unless the Little Women AU in my head counts. But I’m from fandom, and I’ve written plenty for movies, television shows, and video games. (No links—I try to keep my fannish life and real life neatly separated.)
I’m always looking for good Little Women fanfiction starring Jo and Laurie, but I’m always up for good Sherlock Holmes fic or a good The Chronicles of Narnia addressing the problem of Susan. (I don’t like how Gaiman did it.) Really, I’ll read anything as long as I’ve read the source and the fanfic has been recommended.
And yes, of course I read fanfiction. I keep ’em on my phone to read if I don’t feel like reading my digital book. And I’d like to point out that fanfiction is a much broader category than you might think. I refer you to Aja Romano’s brilliant post, “I’m done explaining why fanfiction is okay“, which points out how works based on other works have been around since the dawn of time (Paradise Lost counts!) and are perfectly capable of being fantastic enough to win the Pulitzer. In short—my favorite fanfic is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
I saw this article the other day that asked, “Are you ashamed of skipping parts of books?” Which, naturally, made me want to ask all of YOU.
Do you skip ahead in a book? Do you feel badly about it when you do?
Oh, what a ghastly thought! I can’t skip ahead in books, even if the book is a collection of essays or short stories that actually allows you to do so without possibly missing anything important. I’m just petrified that I’ll miss something, you know? I have the same problem with television, films, and book series. For instance, I want to read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy so I can watch the film, but I feel like I have to start at the beginning of the George Smiley novels because I might miss something. Perhaps this is why I feel so lethargic when it comes to mysteries, since they’re nearly inevitably series…
(I ended up having plenty of feelings about Holmes’ feelings, it seems. Spoilers for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows abound below.)
Pairing off Holmes and Watson is nothing new—Rex Stout’s 1941 speech “Watson Was a Woman” is the first recorded instance of someone picking up on that subtext. The only thing keeping other characters from assuming the two are a couple is the time period; Sherlock, the BBC series that places the stories in the modern day, even has a scene where the two have to tentatively tell each other that they’re not interested. (Interestingly, Sherlock’s, well, Sherlock is, according to the production, explicitly queer, in that he is asexual.) Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, during the promotional tour for Sherlock Holmes, had plenty of fun playing up the homoeroticism. I even remember one fan posting about how she was frustrated they could play that up but a similar film with actual queer male leads would never fly. It was quite brilliant; I’m very sad I’ve lost the link. But when all was said and done in 2009, their situation remained the usual playground for fannish fantasies that the stories themselves did—well within the boundaries of normal friendship (if one friend is nuttier than a fruit cake with corresponding boundary issues) with a hint or two we could run wild with.