Friday, June 10, 2011

Two Books by Two Friends

I have recently had the pleasure of reading two books written by authors whom I consider friends.  The first I read is The Crack in the Lens, by Darlene A. Cypser, a tale of Sherlock Holmes as a teenager.  As a member of the Hounds of the Internet, I have become acquainted with Darlene.  Whether or not I had known her prior to the publication of the book, I can say with no reservation that I enjoyed it.  It is not a light book, as we see young Holmes in his home setting in a family that might be characterized as somewhat dysfunctional.  It seems to me that most upper-class families of the time, in the manorial system that existed across Europe (and in the United States on southern plantations) were dysfunctional to some extent.  Ideas of place and class were rigid, children were to be seldom seen and almost never heard.  Upbringing of children was a hands-off affair for parents, leaving children first in the nursery for the first six years or so under the care of governesses and nannies, and then sending them off to school away from home.  The rigid class system provides a heartbreaking problem for young Holmes, and leads him to the definition of his life's work.  The book also contains an original handling of some of the wonderful bits of trivia we Sherlockians find so delightful.

The other book, which I am in the process of reading, is Prussian Yarns by Laurie Campbell.  I have known Laurie for something like 30 years in cyberspace, and met her face-to-face when she was one of my supporting friends during a very trying time in our family.  She has worked for years on getting Prussian Yarns polished and published, and I have read bits of it over the years for critique and suggestions in an online writers' group she and I have been affiliated with for those three decades.  The wait has been worth it.  The story involves Otto von Goff, a Junker (member of nobility) in 19th century Prussia.  The setting and time period are very similar to that of The Crack in the Lens-- that is, a 19th century manorial family.  Herr von Goff has married well but problematically.  His wife has relatives who are scheming to obtain the family estate, which Herr von Goff inherited.  The senior servant staff, all holdovers from service to his wife's family, the von Puttkamers, are scheming as well to undermine Herr von Goff's authority.  This complex plot is well laid out, the characters have been drawn believably, and the setting is charming.

I highly recommend both books.

No comments:

Post a Comment