Sherlock Holmes

One of my favourite characters in literature and one of the best fictional detectives ever has to be Sherlock Holmes. It is also down to him and the unusual way that I was introduced to him by a very special relation of mine which really got me into reading when I was younger.

From since I can remember my family was big on walking though not so much now. When I was younger we would think nothing of a nice thirteen mile hike through the peak district before a nice late Sunday roast (who was making it or how long it was in the oven I have no idea as we were all out). Occasionally we would also do one on Saturday. As I got older we would go on walking holidays. These involved my Gran (Granny Savidge Reads), Bongy (who I mentioned the other day) my Great Aunty Pat and her husband Derrick who is my Gran’s eldest brother. They would also involve anything between nine and fourteen miles of walking a day either for a week or a fortnight.

Naturally this could get a little boring for a young gent so my Uncle Derrick would memorise tales for me of Arthur Conan Doyle. Initially starting with such greats as ‘The Croxley Master’, ‘The Brown Hand’, ‘The Nightmare Room’, and many, many more. These are all contained in a collection of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories he gave me in my early teens and one I still treasure dearly and dip into now and again. I loved these tales, though it was with Sherlock Holmes that my Uncle Derrick realised he had struck gold half way through The Dales Way. I was apparently spellbound. All these wonderful adventures in Victorian London with dastardly doings and seemingly impossible mysteries to solve, all done by a rather rogue and mysterious man who would fathom them all easily with his trusty sidekick.

It seems I wasn’t the only one hooked as Gran admitted when she was here that she would walk quicker to stay in ear shot of me and Derrick as he regaled these tales for a good mile or three. After the walks stopped (I got a bit teenagery – I needn’t say more) the reading of Sherlock didn’t and I think for a good few years I would start at the beginning read the whole lot and then return to the beginning again. I had a wonderful illustrated omnibus that actually fell apart from over reading and all the journeys it went on. Shockingly I have never bought them again, and now I think it might be time. Maybe I should have a Sherlock Season this spring?

I hinted yesterday that I was going to see a film in this households Boxing Day movie ritual. It was of course Sherlock Holmes. I was slightly worried as I have always found the TV versions lacking something; he always seems too old and more mentally apt than physically which isn’t the case in the books where he boxes like he does in the film. Would a blockbuster directed by Madonna’s ex do the job? The answer is a resounding yes!

It’s utterly brilliant and everything  a Sherlock Holmes tale should be. It’s got an impossible mystery, masterly disguises, devilish doings, tonnes of action and mayhem galore. Robert Downey Jnr is just brilliant as a wily, mysterious, dry humoured and cunning Holmes. Jude Law is great as an authentic Watson who, again like in the books, doesn’t just keep notes and stand by the sidelines but gets fully involved. It was everything I hoped it would be and probably a bit more. I cannot wait for the second one already. You must go and see it; I think it will cause a huge serge in Sherlock sales in the next few months with both adults and younger fans. The game is afoot.

So who else has been thrown under the spell of Sherlock or indeed Arthur Conan Doyle in their reading life? Who has never read him? Who really wants to? Who out there might be up for a read-a-thon? Also who of you have had a remarkable relation who through you further into reading in an unusual way? Uncle Derrick sadly now has Alzheimer’s and when I go and see him has no idea who I am. I often hope he goes back to his favourite tales and gets lost a little in the Victorian adventures he loved and passed the love of on to me?


Filed under Arthur Conan Doyle, Book Thoughts, Books To Film

27 responses to “Sherlock Holmes

  1. I just went and saw the movie too! I enjoyed it but as I have never read a Sherlock Holmes story I think I would really like to meet him in the literary world now. Where do you think I should start??

    • Oooh well my recommendation would be to start at the very beginning which I will be doing very shortly and that is with A Study in Scarlet, then I will give The Sign of Four ago before reading the first short story collection The Adventures of…

      I havent read A Study in Scarlet for years and have completely forgotten the plot, I know its when Watson and Holmes meet though.

  2. Oh Simon – I am so glad that you reviewed this movie! I have wanted to see it since I first saw the trailer, but at $10.00 a ticket, I just couldn’t afford to be disappointed. I will definitely put this on the list of things I must do before heading back school!

    I actually teach a mystery unit to my 7th graders where we read several of Sherlock Holmes’s short stories, and then the students write a mystery of their own. I would most definitely be up for a Holmes read-a-thon, if you choose to organize such an event 🙂

    Lastly, it is a true dream of mine to take a “walking” vacation through the Cotswalds some day before I get too old to walk. Your description of your family vacations has now rekindled that desire.

    • Molly its a brilliant film and definately one for all the family, though I do think some kids were confused by bits of it as being Sherlock Holmes there is a lot of mastermind plotting and concluding.

      Oh how lovely that kids write a mystery, are they sherlock mysteries or just mysteries.

      I am putting plans together for a read-a-thon fear not!

      • Very much looking forward to the Holmes read-athon!

        The students write “inspired” Holmes mysteries – if that make sense. It really is a fun way to end the year, and I am always delighted to find the students who discover a love of writing from this project.

      • I have still not quite decided when to do it I think I will make an announcement on my Bookish Bits on Saturday.

  3. Well, as I said yesterday, we were on the way to the 4:00 showing when my daughter’s stomach had other ideas. We were talking about going today, but now it is snowing pretty hard and would rather not end up in the ditch. Believe it or not, I’ve never read any Sherlock Holmes. I need to get my act in gear!

    • Arthur Conan Doyle is a great writer full stop, I still think The Hound of the Baservilles is my favourite, though if I do a Sherlock splurge of reading I am sure i will find more that I love equally.

      I hope you get to see the movie.

  4. I’m just off to see it this afternoon — really looking forward to it!

  5. novelinsights

    Oooh, is the film actually good?! I was a little dubious about the whole action / sherlock thing.

    I haven’t read much Conan Doyle, but I’d like to. I think I read a Study in Scarlett when I was younger and I used to love travelling through London to my Nan’s when I was little and looking at the tiles in Baker Street station. I love the fact that Bongy actually had memorised whole stories… how wonderful!

    • Were you skim reading Miss Littlewood? I have raved about it hahaha. Its brilliant, all the cast are great the scenes are marvellous, its all just fab!

      It wasnt Bongy… you have been skim reading, we are so having words hahaha it was my Uncle Derrick who memorised them all tut! You must read more, maybe we should go to the museum in the summer?

      • novelinsights

        I did pick up that you raved about it but still not 100% convinced. But whoops – slap on the hand about getting your Uncle Derrick all mixed up, sorry about that! We should go to the museum – ‘twould be a wonderful literary excursion.

      • Shameful hahahha! The excursion is a definate!

  6. I really want to see this film, however visiting my Mom at the moment middle of the New Forest won’t be seeing a proper cinema in a while. Have a wonderfully quaint theatre with the old skool cardboard tickets that only shows one film at a time, must be patient haha 🙂

  7. I loved the movie too! Not a sanitized Holmes by any means with a more fleshed out, full-partner Watson. Enjoyed the fact that Downey plays him (and he was written here) as a deeply flawed individual with extraordinary abilities. In fact, his abilities create many of his flaws. I am overdue a re-read! Happy reading yourself, Simon!

    • Frances, if you loved the film a re-read is definately a must as the character you describe pitch perfectly in the above comment is exactly what he is like in the book. Something the TV versions completely miss.

  8. I saw the movie tonight and loved it! RDJ Jnr makes a perfect Holmes; as Frances notes, he has that flawed persona down.

    What a lovely story about your Uncle Derrick.

    My boyfriend has just finished reading the entire Penguin boxset (a gift from yours truly last Christmas) and I read A Study in Scarlet earlier this year. I’d love to read along here and there with you as I’ve only read the first novella and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes short stories at Uni.

    Furthermore, this Christmas I gave my boyfriend The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King which is the first novel in a fantasy series featuring Sherlock Holmes and I also highly recommend Neil Gaiman’s short story “A Study in Emerald” which takes the plot of A Study in Scarlet and rewrites it with elements from Lovecraft. I love rewritings at times and that’s a brilliant one!

    • Claire, I am thrilled you loved it too. Oh I do hope everyone loves it this much. I thought both Downey and Law were spot on. I also liked McAdams and forget about Adler as a character in the series, oh shes a minx.

      Uncle Derrick is quite a legend, am thinking next time I go to the home I might take a selection and try and read him a few see what happens.

      And another person up for a read-a-thon, I am oing to get cracking on a schedule of sorts. Not too scheduled though.

      I am dubious about Holmes spin offs but then I have only read one (which was dire) these sound very very intriguing though!!

  9. I can’t wait to see this movie, I only read my first Holmes story back in July – someone in my creative writing class did a seminar on The Adventure of the Speckled Band, my classmate’s love of these stories was infectious and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading them.

    • Oh thats one of my favourites of the short stories. I think its the one thats whole plot has stuck with me the most from reaidng it over a decade ago until now. I hope I love it as much the second read around. I hope you read many more and love the movie.

  10. What a wonderful story about Uncle Derrick. I hope that you do try and read to him. Perhaps it will stir up fond feelings for him, even if they aren’t exactly memories anymore.

    I haven’t seen the movie yet but am definitely looking forward to it! And I would at least try and do a bit of a read-along if you set one up.

    • I think it would be very interesting to see if he reacts at all as the strangest things will set him off apparently. I am sure its just soothing to have someone sit and hold your hand and talk to you in that situation and he always responds well to interaction when I go and see him, he just has no idea of who I am or why I am there. He is a legendary character himself… for example which member of the family took the whole top table and its decorations with him at my Mums first wedding… Uncle Derrick hahaha.

      The film is great. I am going to check that all the editions definately have the same stories and once I know they do (as they should) I will set a read-a-long read-a-thon up.

  11. I’m going to second Claire’s recommendation of the Laurie King spinoff series, starting with the Beekeeper’s Apprentice. They are marvelous. Of course, I haven’t read much more than a smattering of the original stories, so I can’t judge them on their faithfulness to the spirit of the originals, but I know that many Holmes enthusiasts think highly of them. And they are excellent mysteries in their own right.

    • I will definately have to give these books a go once I have had a good crack at the originals again. They sound like they may be a very interesting read, and I love a good mystery full stop.

  12. Pingback: The Tragedy of the Korosko – Arthur Conan Doyle « Savidge Reads

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