I knitted a deerstalker. Deerstalkers are cool.
Over the past week, the #BelieveinSherlock movement has popped up all over the world, uniting fans of Sherlock Holmes and the BBC Sherlock series with goodwill and joy. The practical goal of the movement is to show the Beeb how much we love the show and to raise awareness of the need to save Undershaw, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s home, from development that would destroy it as a piece of history.
Go here to learn more: http://www.saveundershaw.com/
Meanwhile, my contribution to the movement is a set of crocheted dolls…because, why not?!
An Entirely New Country: Arthur Conan Doyle, Undershaw, and the Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes (1897-1907) By Alistair Duncan Reviewed by Amy Thomas
The one word I would use to describe An Entirely New Country is surprising. When I opened my pdf to begin the latest non-fictional effort by notable Sherlockian Alistair Duncan, I expected something worthwhile, factual, and historically significant. If I’m honest, I also suspected it might be somewhat dull and colorless, like a textbook one feels one ought to read but can’t quite get excited over. I’m delighted to admit that I was wrong. Duncan’s prose is concise and colorful, and he manages to illuminate little-known history in an engaging way.
The book’s structure is straightforward. It explores the years of the Conan Doyle family’s residence at their Hindhead home, Undershaw, year-by-year, paying particular attention to Conan Doyle’s public image and activities.
The meat on the bones is the portrait Duncan paints of a complex man, one who built a home for the sake of his wife’s health, only to begin an ongoing relationship with another woman several years before his wife’s death. Duncan is even-handed, and readers are given the opportunity to draw their own conclusions.
One of the book’s most valuable sections is its detailed explanation of Conan Doyle’s activities during the Boer War, in which he both served as a medical officer and as a largely unbiased voice in defense of his own army and the Boers as well. Most American readers, at least, are unlikely to be unaware of this aspect of the author’s life, making An Entirely New Country a valuable resource.
Much to Conan Doyle’s likely annoyance, readers would probably have no idea who he was if not for Sherlock Holmes, and the Undershaw years were extremely significant to the character. Duncan explores the author’s decision during this decade to authorize a play based on Sherlock Holmes, write The Hound of the Baskervilles, and finally resurrect the detective in earnest; however, these events are presented in a balanced way that does not dwarf the other happenings in Conan Doyle’s life during the same period.
Interestingly, a vast number of the sources Duncan cites are newspapers. This evidence of the press’s nearly day-by-day interest in Conan Doyle’s life and activities indicates that celebrity at the turn of the century was not as different from the celebrity culture today as readers might imagine.
Throughout the book, Undershaw is a backdrop, the silent observer of famous guests, a dying wife, and a flawed author who enjoyed vast success. Duncan penned the work partly to draw attention to the fight to save Undershaw, which is in danger of development that would irrevocably eradicate its original design. An Entirely New Country provides ample evidence of the fact that Undershaw should be protected, based on its significance in the life of Conan Doyle while he served his nation and penned some of his most famous works.
Color me surprised. An Entirely New Country is surely historical and factual and erudite, but it is far from uninteresting. As I reached its midpoint, I found myself drawn into Duncan’s smooth prose and captivated by the life and times of an unusual man. Absolutely worth reading.
Buy it here:
Help save Undershaw:
This book was provided for review by MX Publishing.
Wonders never cease! My book is available for preorder!
Irene Adler, American opera singer and the one woman who outsmarted Sherlock Holmes, finds herself a widow at thirty-two, wealthy but emotionally broken. At the same time, Sherlock Holmes finds himself unable to return to England after faking his death at Reichenbach Falls and is drawn into an investigation of two men with designs on a woman they call Miss A, who is none other than Irene Adler herself. The Detective and The Woman throw their lot in together to uncover a dangerous plot with implications that stretch across the Atlantic. In the process, they meet legendary inventor Thomas Edison and experience life in Florida at the turn of the 20th century.
Pre-order it through the Baker Street Babes using the link above.
My sister suggested I take a stab at casting my book, The Detective and The Woman, so I had some fun compiling a dream-team list of actors to play the main roles. Let me know what you think. Many of the characters may be unfamiliar (though several are historical), but I’d love to hear your thoughts on my Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler. Feel free to weigh in on the Edisons as well.
The Woman/Irene Adler (Liz White-Life on Mars)
The Detective/Sherlock Holmes (David Tennant-Doctor Who)
Mina Edison (Daniela Denby-Ashe-North & South)
Thomas Edison (Mark Gatiss-Sherlock)
Marion Edison (Molly Quinn-Castle)
Tootie McGregor (Kathy Bates-The Office)
Ambrose McGregor (Paul McGann-Horatio Hornblower)
Nelson Burroughs (Marshall Lancaster-Life on Mars)
Officer Morris (John Simm-Doctor Who)
John T. Murphy (Jeff Bridges-True Grit)
Karl Oeser (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau-Game of Thrones)
The UK version of Sherlock is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray!