The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

I have been trying to follow Noonlight Reads chronological Sherlock Holmes challenge this year and was doing pretty well at first, but have slowed down dramatically.   I am through July, skipped The Hound of the Baskervilles and have read a few stories after that.   This meant that I recently completed all the stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, although it also means I’m not sure I can rate The Adventures as a book, since it was all mixed in with the Memoirs.   I am enjoying the Holmes stories and hope to keep going, but who knows whether I will or not?   Hitting December means that I won’t manage it this year.  I’ve got most of 3 books of stories left and while I could probably do that if that’s all I do, I don’t think I want to read them in such a forced rapid way just to have them done in 2017.  I am enjoying them and see no real reason to rush it.


I only have one more story in the Memoirs and then I think I may switch to reading them in the order published rather than chronological.   Much easier to do and I’m not sure the chronological reading has been of any benefit.  An interesting idea, but I’m just not seeing any real advantage to doing it this way.   I may save Hound for last.   Generally I prefer novels to short stories, though Holmes has been an exception.   Maybe it’s because you have the same two main characters, so it feels more like a novel?

I’m not sure, but I don’t think this qualifies for any challenges that my earlier Holmes reading didn’t already fulfill.  Glad I’ve finally made a big dent in these classic stories.



Aurora Leighdalong Finale

Late with my report again even though I finished early.   Last Sunday I finished Aurora Leigh and that was because it got interesting.   When last we left our feisty and/or bitchy poetess, she was living in Italy with Marian Erle who seems to be one of those people you always refer to by both names.   And then finally we get the hero and heroine back together and it’s pretty gripping because until the last moment you can’t be sure what either of these proud eccentrics will do.  Unlike most readalongs where I write a spoilerrific final essay and then a non-spoiled overall review, I think I’m just going to make this a non-spoilery summing up.


Overall, I enjoyed this novel-length poem.  There are some parts which are tedious — she waxes poetic, but much of the time it’s interesting and things happen.  Aurora herself is tough to like.  She’s so full of herself from early on.  Romney’s difficult too with his troglodytic views of women, despite having pretty progressive ideas on the poor.  But then it seems as though EBB’s ideas on the poor aren’t somewhat troglodytic.   Am I reading the wrong message?  It sure seems like you should be sorry for the poor, but there’s nothing you can really do, they’re just low class and always going to be so, with maybe a one in a million exception like Marian Erle.  It very sadly smacks of upper crust folks justifying there wealth by saying God made it this way and you’ll offend him if you try to change it.  Which is a load of old cobbler’s.  The whole idea that having money or aristocratic blood makes you inherently better is an idea which deserves a much quicker death than it is receiving.

There’s a bit of Candide-ish Let your garden grow philosophy, which I can’t completely argue with, but I think it all depends on what you’re trying to do.  Lots of people have successfully helped the poor over the centuries.  Should they really not have?   I would say it was good they did and they should be admired for it.

I may try to discover a bit more about what other people thought about Aurora Leigh.   Maybe I’m maligning Mrs. Browning and her attitude.  It’s a wonderfully pro-feminist view at the outset and I was all indignant at Romney’s supercilious attitude which is not as entirely a thing of the remote past as it should be.   Think how much further forward as a society we might be if we ever acknowledged that genius and ability can be found anywhere and no one knows where or in what form it may turn up.   If we educated everybody, helped them to realize their full potential instead of sneering that some irrelevant trait makes it ‘impossible’ for them to accomplish anything.

All-in-all a very weird book and I think someday I may read it again.  Thanks again to Alice and Jenny without whom it is unlikely I would have read this.   I always mean to read more poetry and Elizabeth Barrett Browning is one of those I would hope to try, but without the impetus of the readalong probably wouldn’t have happened.  It was indeed ” it was yet again really gay and a mix of genius and wtf” as Alice said, which Alice has a positive genius for picking out books that fit that description and I hope before too long, she’ll do it again.   Or Jenny who suggested it.   I’m game for pretty much whatever these ladies come up with.

Aurora Leighdalong Book VI

Finished part 3 of the readalong a couple days ago.  Luckily, we have this week off so catching up is possible.  Book 6 was much easier going as EBB stopped going on about poetry and reintroduce Marian Erle.   Aurora saw her in Paris.   With… a baby!   She loses her in the crowd, but by hanging around roaming the streets she eventually finds her again, because this is fiction and there’s no story if she doesn’t.  They walk all over Paris before deciding to go to Marian’s place.   Aurora is head over heels for Marian whom she’s seen once before in her life, I think?   Transferring her longing for Rodney onto this poor woman.   Marian tells Aurora at first that she found the baby, but then it emerges that Lady Waldo talked Marian out of marrying Rodney (which we all knew) and then sent her to France where she sewed, got raped, went out of her mind, not necessarily in that order.   Poor Marian.   Lady W is scum and Aurora is reluctant to tell Rodney his wife-to-be-or-may-be-already is evil, so she writes their mutual friend and leaves it all up to him.   Where she gets all her high-and-mightiness I’m not sure.   She’s awful blaming Marian at first for the baby and then does a 180 and offers a home to Marian and the nameless cherub.   Luckily Marian feels dead already or she’d feel a lot worse with this whiplash reaction.   They move to Italy and things seem to be going well.   Aurora gets a letter from a friend who has married someone named Kate.

This book was much easier to read as Aurora did not go on about poetry, but just revealed what happened.   There are three more books to go and here’s hoping they are full of events and not so much about how poetry is the greatest thing ever.   She’s making me think of Charlie Sheen when he thought he was the greatest thing ever.   Dude, you had a hit TV show.   That’s it.   You haven’t cured cancer.   I don’t mean poetry isn’t a great thing, because I think it is, but it’s not the only great thing and here’s hoping she allows a few of the other things into her world by the end.

Happy Thanksgiving to those in this country! And a forlorn hope for a more peaceful world!

Aurora Leigh-d-along Book 5

I was supposed to finish 5 & 6, but this book was tough going.  Almost nothing happens.  It’s a year and a half later and Aurora is in a bitchy mood — so what else is new?  Not even sure about what she went on about for 25 pages or so.  Writing a play.  Poetry.  How come he doesn’t love her.  What the hell does she want?  Finally she goes to a dinner party where she bitchily turns down a proposal of marriage, I think, and finds out Romney is going to marry Lady Whathaveyou.   She’s all out of bitch juice so Lord Howe has to shut down Lady W.  She decides to move to Florence and so sells her books.

Aurora seems to believe she’s the only person capable of love, though I’m not sure how she came to this conclusion as she seems to be in denial about Romney.  Pretty sure everything that mattered in Book 5 could have been written in about 2 pages.   What a philistine I am.   Sad.   But there it is.

Cannot find a good pic for this entry.   Maybe later.

Aurora Leighdalong II – Books 3 & 4

Spoilerrific Readalong Report

The sad thing is I finished on time, but didn’t write up my impressions yesterday so no points for me.   A small, but intrepid crew are reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh a poem about a young Victorian woman growing up to be a fiery poet.  She is chock full of scorn for most people including her cousin Romney who although completely belittling women poets seems otherwise a stand-up guy.   He even tried to make her independently wealthy after she turned him down in marriage, but she would have none of it.   I’m not saying she’s wrong to turn it down, but it was very nice of him to make the attempt.   He goes off to save the world and she writes poems in a garret.

Three years later she gets a visit and all her prickliness will not put off Lady Whatshername who is trying to get her help to stop Romney from marrying a poor woman.   Aurora Leigh tells Lady W to get stuffed and then goes to meet this fiancee whose name is Marion Erle.   Marion tells her sad story and Aurora welcomes her into the family as a cousin, but neglects to tell her cousin Romney to watch out for Lady W.   Does she do this because as a poetess she’s unaware of the depths to which people will sink or because she subconsciously wants to sink this marriage?   Whichever it is, the marriage is sunk.   Poor Romney is left at the alter with nothing but an incoherent message which really doesn’t explain anything.


EBB looking as prickly as Aurora.   Wondering how much Aurora is based on EBB?   Certainly not the orphan part, but her character and having to deal with people who think women should not do anything except look pretty and make babies.   This section went much faster for me and with a lot less, huh?   She hardly waxed poetic at all, mostly it was all action.   Her descriptions of the poor are absolutely dreadful.   She’s sympathetic to Marian, but all the rest seem to be caricatures who love nothing better than hitting children and drinking.   I can’t help thinking the rich didn’t bathe all that much then either and fluoride was still a thing of the future.   Not sure if she really thought the poor were all horrible people simply incapable of being refined like those of good blood like the Leighs, or she’s painting it this way for political purposes.   It’s really hard to see the point though in

A woman screamed back — ‘I’m a tender soul,

I never banged a child at two years old

And drew blood from him, but I sobbed for it

Next moment

Is she parodying what many thought the poor were like?  I certainly hope so.  It seems pretty clear she’s parodying the rich showing them mostly quite full of themselves so let’s just assume these ghastly portraits of the poor are also parody.  Although it doesn’t read so much like parody to me as pure disgust

What an ugly crest

Of faces rose upon you everywhere

From that crammed mass! you did not usuallly

See faces like them in the open day:

They hide in cellars, not to make you mad

As Romney Leigh is — Faces! O my God,

We call those, faces? men’s and women’s… ay,

And children’s — babies, hanging like a rag

Forgotten on their mother’s neck — poor mouths,

Wiped clean of mother’s milk by mother’s blow

Before they are taught her cursing.  Faces?… phew,

We’ll call them vices, festering to despairs,

Or sorrows, petrifying to vices: not

A finger-touch of God left whole on them

Harsh realm, Miss Aurora Leigh.




Aurora Leigh Readalong I

[Chock full of spoilers.]   So another of Alice’s readalongs and hoping we’ll have as much fun as the previous ones.  We’ve read the first two books and I can’t tell yet.   I like some of it.   Can’t follow some of it.   It’s too early to tell, I guess.  Aurora Leigh is half-Italian, half-English.   Her mother dies when she is four and her father a few years later.  She is sent to live with an aunt in England who isn’t cruel, but cold and conventional with very set ideas on how young ladies should behave and Aurora grows up a fiercely passionate poet and a beauty.  Her cousin Romney falls in love and proposes, but she rejects him after he scorns women writing poetry.   I don’t blame her.  His speech makes me want to slap him and every man who ever superciliously said anything like

The chances are that…

You write as well… and ill… upon the whole,

As other women.  If as well, what then?

If even a little better… still, what then?

We want the Best in art now, or no art.

Only men can write poetry.   Infuriating.  Then he relents and is like okay, I still want to marry you, you can write your little poems or whatever.   And she is proud and passionately tells him where he gets off.   She’s not sorry because she knows she didn’t love him and doesn’t really think he loved her.   He may have to the extent he was capable, but who knows?

Women of a softer mood,

Surprised by men when scarcely awake to life,

Will sometimes only hear the first word, love,

And catch up with it any kind of work,

Indifferent, so that dear love go with it.

I do not blame such women, though, for love,

They pick much oakum

So, there’s definitely moments I like.  Is that enough to get me through it?  I hope so.

The Body in the Bath

A couple weeks ago I finished Marissa de Luna’s mystery The Body in the Bath featuringDetective Chupplejeep and his assistant, Officer Pankaj.  This is, I think, they’re second mystery.  I bought it because it sounded good, was only $3, and it would connect with the last mystery I read in the chain for Bev The Bath Mysteries.   It’s an entertaining enough mystery with fairly vivid characters.   Pankaj is sweet and naive for a police officer.  Half the hotel staff have something to hide.  The murdered woman was a D-List film star who unbeknownst to everyone in town has come home for the holidays.   How this can simultaneously be a small town in which everyone knows everything about everyone and no one knows this actress has a sister who became a nun is beyond me.   This is the sort of flaw the book possesses.  It’s a bit repetitive.   Pankaj almost fails to solve the blackmailing case he’s been handed through poor police work and the solution I find hard to believe, but I enjoyed reading it and learned something about Goa – a region in what is now India with an unusually high Christian population because they were colonized by Portugal.


I think that these little roughnesses may be worked out the more she writes.  They could also be handled by an editor, but those don’t seem to exist any more.   Not a great mystery, but I’d like to read more Chupplejeep.

This qualifies as my last RIP book and as I mentioned above connects to my earlier reading The Bath Mysteries another good not great, but entertaining enough mystery.


Idle thoughts on books and movies. Some new, but mostly old.

Phinnea's Book Blog List

Idle thoughts on books and movies. Some new, but mostly old.