The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes stories includes twelve cases in which Holmes masterfully pieces together a solution to each mystery. Access to Google and constant video-surveillance might put Sherlock Holmes out of a job theses days, but wit, suspense, and wisdom are wrapped in quintessential 19th century British packaging that make these stories a delightful read. The twelves stories included here are:
1. A Scandal in Bohemia
2. The Red-Headed League
3. A Case of Identity
4. The Boscombe Valley Mystery
5. The Five Orange Pips
6. The Man with the Twisted Lip
7. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
8. The Adventure of the Speckled Band
9. The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb
10. The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor
11. The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
12. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches
These days, it seems I can’t read any book without at least some passing reference to racism or human right issues. I was nonetheless surprised when I read “The Five Orange Pips,” and the antagonists of the story were murderous Ku Klux Klan members carrying out their work in Great Britain.
A Wrinkle in Time
I read A Wrinkle in Time primarily because it is up for discussion in February for a book club I’m participating in.
The story begins on a dark and stormy night, with Meg Murray wondering if the hurricane weather will permit her survival in her attic bedroom. After joining her mother and brother, Charles Wallace, downstairs, the family meets an interesting visitor. Meg’s father has been missing (for over a year) while on a scientific government assignment, and Mrs. Murray suspects that something the visitor says is connected to Mr. Murray’s disappearance. The next day, Charles Wallace and Meg, along with Meg’s schoolmate, Calvin, journey to find him. In their quest, they realize they’re doing more than just looking for Mr. Murray—they’re fighting the forces of evil, too. (And that’s all I’ll say to avoid this being too much of a spoiler.)
From a literary standpoint, Madeleine L’Engle’s writing is genius. I knew very little about this book before reading it (other than knowing it was a children’s classic), but I’m pretty sure that my lack of exposure to it until now was due to this book being banned from a lot of places during my childhood.
At one point in talking about those who fought evil throughout history, L’Engle lumps Jesus together with great scientists, philosophers, artist, and leaders of the past. Additionally, Scripture is quoted throughout the book, and one portion of the book depicts the scene from Isaiah 42. I can certainly see that these elements would cause concern with many Christian readers.
Having not read the book previously or even read a summary of the book before delving into it, my initial takeaway of the book’s message was this: the world is fighting evil, evil wishes to control our minds (ultimate evil is symbolized by a giant brain in this story), and we fight evil with love. Good people have fought it throughout time. There were multiple sub-themes (such as as communism is one force of evil, science is good, and the “different” people are often the ones who see reality), but it would take much study to go back and pull out each one.
Some have compared L’Engle’s work here as similar to C.S. Lewis’s scientific fiction works. Having not yet read other works by L’Engle, I’m not qualified to draw that assessment, but it’s one I’ll consider as I read further works by both authors. Interestingly, this year is the 50th Anniversary the book. It’s sure to be mentioned at least to some degree in the news and literary circles this year.