Thursday, March 9, 2006

The Case of the Missing Marquess : an Enola Holmes mystery by Nancy Springer is my latest read. Add another clever, strong female character to the list. On Enola's 14th birthday her mother disappears. When her two much older brothers come down to the estate from London, Enola learns that her mother has been siphoning money from the estate since their father's death ten years before. Mrs. Holmes did leave Enola a birthday gift and by using this gift Enola escapes the finishing school that Mycroft, her eldest brother, has chosen for her. As she searches for her mother, she also solves the mystery of the disappearance of the young Marquess of Tewksbury. Springer does a credible job describing late 19th century London without going into distressing detail. What she describes best are the disgusting fashions that young ladies of good breeding had to don at this time. We cringe at the foot mutilation of young Chinese girls but the obsession with tiny waists that "well-bred" English society had and the corsets that young ladies had to wear to achieve these tiny waists worked together to keep women "in their place". No wonder women swooned, developed consumption, and were taken with the vapors. The poor things could not breathe.
In this book, the vagaries of fashion actually become the method of Mrs. Holmes escape from financial dependence on her oldest son. And later, they help Enola escape as well.
Another very quick, very enjoyable read! I hope to see more books about the redoubtable Miss Holmes.

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