On Wednesday evening, we got together to have a scarlet-themed party in honour of our book club choice, A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. Most of use wore something red – you can see a glimpse of Zoë S’s gorgeous red and white dress above and Lysy’s lovely jacket.
We also enjoyed some yummy scarlet treats – cherryade, red velvet cakes, marshmallows, meringues, strawberries and some Babybel cheese! We were also thrilled to welcome three new members, Georgia, Ilana and Jennie. But of course, our main purpose was to talk about the book.
We had a fun discussion about this book, the first of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series. Here is just a taste of the subjects we covered.
- How do you think Part 1 contrasts with Part 2?
Amy was the first to mention the two parts as she only really enjoyed the second part of the novel. A Study in Scarlet is divided into two parts: the first describes how Holmes and Watson meet and introduces the confounding case of murder which has the police baffled. Part 2 takes us thousands of miles away to Utah to cover the back story to the crime. For me, the tone of the novel changed with the setting and others commented it was a little like reading two separate novellas.
- Did you guess how the mystery unfurled? Did it frustrate you if you did / didn’t?
I don’t think anyone was able to work out exactly what had happened and who had perpetrated the murder but we also agreed that this only made believable the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes for which he is famous. As I pointed out, if we had been able to work out everything before Holmes explained it all, it would have undermined his talents!
- What surprised you, if anything, about the book?
Several of us were surprised by the humour in the book and how fresh the prose was – it read like a much more modern novel than one written in 1886.
- What do you make of Holmes and Watson and how do they compare to any TV or film adaptations you have seen?
There was a mix of experience in the group – some had seen the original TV series, some the new BBC adaptation and some the recent movie starring Robert Downey Jnr (Zoe W is not a fan of the latter and calls the film ‘the devil’ – apparently purists of Sherlock Holmes are not fans!). However, I think there was some agreement that the youthful portrayal of the TV show and the film are closer to Conan Doyle’s creation than the older Holmes of the original TV series.
- Would you like to read more Conan Doyle?
Most of us (who haven’t already read more) expressed a desire to read more. Zoe W suggested we try the short story The Adventure of the Copper Beeches as that is her favourite. I will be keeping an eye out for it next time I am in a charity shop for sure!
Last order of business (before we descended into random chatter over the food and drink) was to choose a new book. Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes was suggested by Roisin and there was a consensus amongst all present that this was a book which sounded very appealing. Here is the blurb from the publisher’s website:
Damian Baxter is very, very rich – and he’s dying. He lives alone in a big house in Surrey, looked after by a chauffeur, butler, cook and housemaid. He has but one concern: who should inherit his fortune…
PAST IMPERFECT is the story of a quest. Damian Barker wishes to know if he has a living heir.
So this will be our next Book Club choice – the meetup will be in October.