Of course, as the semester rapidly approached, I found myself falling into, and falling in love with, my all time favorite mystery of the entire summer: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Mary Russell, the protagonist of this delightfully compelling read, and I would be friends. Smart, funny, and feminist, she literally very nearly tramples Sherlock Holmes, now in his fifties and in retirement, as she walks and reads (Right? The best.). He studies bees and writes about them, and they fall into conversation. Holmes is taken by her brilliance, but not in a pervy way (she’s a teenager), and noting her hunger (both physical and mental) invites her home where Mrs. Hudson nurtures her. I love Mrs. Hudson. I imagine we’d spend hours baking bread and conversing over endless cups of tea. Mary is orphaned as a result of a terrible automobile accident, one that weighs heavily on her, and she is tended to by a horrid aunt. Horrid. Boo-hiss. Mary is undaunted. And thus she is folded into Holmes’ household and taken on as an apprentice.
Not for long.
Oh my gosh, I loved this book.
Mary is nobody’s sidekick. Nobody’s. She’s a full partner and while it takes Holmes some time to realize this, he finally comes to his senses and acknowledges her rock star status.
Full of adventure, both physical and mental, this book fairly gallops. But there’s more to it–undercurrents of a very serious nature that are resonant for all of us contemporary, cosmopolitan, modern women. Let me say this–I plan to read this book with my daughter. And I gloried in being cut from the same cloth as Mary. Mary also has a deep spirituality that while Holmes can’t fully get behind, comes to respect. She studies Theology, and so, so much more.
Why hasn’t this book been made into a movie? Why? I might have to start a campaign.
Laurie King’s prose is accomplished, and often downright lovely. Her dialogue snaps like teeth on a really good hot/veggie dog. Oh–the setting! I was transported! Transported! And the characters! I wanted to grab Watson in a massive bear hug, tackle the villain myself, and high five both Sherlock and Russell. I closed the book and felt the way I had as a child closing a beloved novel–dreamy, still caught up in the narrative, and so pleased and sleepy with content I could have floated off.
Why, dear readers, are you still reading this? Go immerse yourself in the pleasure that is The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. You deserve this honeyed prose, this delicious adventure, this satisfying mystery.