Enola Holmes, Sherlock’s much younger, and feistier, sister, returns in an adventure of a confused young Baronet’s daughter who is on the run from her father’s devious schemes in Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade.
Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of Sherlock, is now living independently in London and working as a scientific perditorian (a finder of persons and things). But that is not the normal lot of young women in Victorian England. They are under the near absolute control of their nearest male relative until adulthood. Such is the case of Enola’s friend, Lady Cecily Alastair. Twice before Enola has rescued Lady Cecily from unpleasant designs of her caddish father, Sir Eustace Alastair, Baronet. And when Enola is brusquely turned away at the door of the Alastair home it soon becomes apparent that Lady Cecily once again needs her help.
Affecting a bold escape, Enola takes Lady Cecily to her secret office only to be quickly found by the person hired by Lady Cecily’s mother to find the missing girl – Sherlock Holmes himself. But the girl has already disappeared again, now loose on her own in the unforgiving city of London.
Even worse, Lady Cecily has a secret that few know. She has dual personalities – one, which is left-handed, is independent and competent; the other, which is right-handed, is meek and mild. Now Enola must find Lady Cecily again – before one of her personalities gets her into more trouble than she can handle and before Sherlock can find her and return her to her father. Once again, for Enola, the game is afoot.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade by Nancy Springer is the latest case for the incorrigible sister of one, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. She must find where her missing friend is hiding and make that friend’s living conditions one she can return to.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
I adore Enola Holmes. She is so fun because she is independent and determined, intelligent, creative, and tends to get into precarious situations. I expect this new story will continue to show those qualities and maybe add more to delight in.
Actual Reading Experience:
I loved that this story, in particular, basically defines what the Sisters of Suffragettes were trying to change in Victorian society. By showing how Enola lives and what her friend Lady Cecily must endure, the reader gets a good sense of why the movement started and its goal. Women were all but the property of the men in their lives, and society’s expectations were given such weight as to force women to go against even the traits they were born with. It was a very challenging time to be a woman.
Even though this is the eighth book in the series, it can easily work as a stand-alone novel. I love how you don’t have to have any background knowledge of the other books and mysteries to fully enjoy this one. It’s a great book to learn about Enola Holmes and the period in which she lived, and it can be used as a starting point in the series or as a continuance of it.
I also loved that Enola and Sherlock worked together on this case. Well, I say together even though half of the story has Sherlock keeping an eye on his sister in order to find Cecily and return her to her home. The reader gets to see Sherlock in the role of a more parental-type figure than he has been up to this point. It’s fun to witness the dynamics between brother and sister. It hits home how intelligent and creative Enola actually is as she repeatedly gets the better of her brother.
Enola is the main character, narrator, and story. She is a very likable young woman by today’s standards, exhibiting a personality that is independent, resourceful, spirited, and thoughtful. She is also the master of disguises, which brings humor to the story and a fun aspect that Sherlock’s mysteries often lack – even though he is known to use disguises too, for him, it is all dire.
Narration & Pacing:
Enola tells the story in first-person narration, which works exceptionally well because of her character. The narration helps keep the speed of the pace up, as does the suspense that is threaded throughout the story. This latest Enola Holmes story is a quick read.
The setting is London in 1889 –towards the end of the Victorian era. It’s still a time when women are considered just short of the property of their husbands and fathers, and the suffrage movement is in full swing. The setting works perfectly with Enola, an independent young woman who refuses to rely on any man, including her two brothers – one of which is the famous Sherlock Holmes.
What It Reminds Me Of:
The writing is in keeping with Sherlock Holmes’ mysteries, with a more charismatic lead in Enola Holmes.
To Read or Not to Read:
If you love a good mystery with a fun, spunky, and intelligent female lead, Enola Holmes is a character that will intrigue and delight you with each new mystery she investigates.
Overall Rating: (4.92)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Originality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Writing Quality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Pace: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Character Development: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- ‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
- Use of Setting: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐