I’m now finished reading my first non-Charlotte Brontë related novel of recent weeks. Ironically enough, it’s called A Study in Charlotte and is by Brittany Cavallaro, an author I’ve never encountered. It has nothing at all to do with Charlotte Brontë though – the Charlotte in this case is Charlotte Holmes, a descendant of that venerable and brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes. In this modern adaptation of a combination of many of the great adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Charlotte teams up with the narrator and descendant of Dr. Watson, James Holmes. All I have to say about this novel is that it was such fun!
But honestly, I enjoyed this book thoroughly and I finished it within 3 days because it was light and easy and fast-paced. I haven’t read all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about the original Holmes and Watson, so I’m no expert on the works, but like so many people today, I adore the BBC version of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and I’m always open to a modern take on a classic.
Cavallaro’s story is different in that it turns Sherlock into a girl, makes the two main protagonists teenagers, and gives their relationship a bit more romantic electricity. While I think this made the novel more juvenile and took away from the potential for maturity and sophistication a bit, I admit that it was very easy for me to become interested in Holmes and Watson’s camaraderie and budding relationship (both professional and otherwise). I’ve also always enjoyed the mystery genre (I was a huge Nancy Drew fan as a child and I spent hours inventing my own crimes and mysteries to solve, with my trusty notebook and spectacles!), and although aspects of this story were predictable, as I said, I finished it quickly and that’s testament to the fact that it was entertaining.
I also truly enjoyed Cavallaro’s use of a male narrator – James Watson is very endearing, and he comes across as intelligent, considerate, thoughtful and very caring. I enjoyed following the tale he told and created and I was eager to get back to his story because of how genuine his manner of telling it seemed. In the Epilogue, when the voice switches to Charlotte’s, I did notice a clear distinction between the tones and styles, and I did think Charlotte’s more logical, precise and scientific voice suited her character. She’s harsh and hard at times, but I did grow fond of her relationship with Jamie in the end.
The only aspect of the novel that I struggled with is its classification. I cannot decide if it’s a young adult novel and what age category it is targeted towards. Obviously, Charlotte and Jamie being teenagers suggests that it’s best suited to that age group; however, the story does deal with mature themes (such as drugs and sex and violence) in very explicit detail, so I think older teens are the correct demographic. I don’t think I’d want my 13 or 14 year old reading this story, but someone around the age of 16 or 17 would probably be able to deal with the mature subject matter. I think it’s a little too simplistic for most adult readers to be totally content with, but I enjoy a good YA novel every now and then, and A Study in Charlotte really is a good one!
Overall, I would absolutely recommend this novel to anyone looking for a quick summer/beach read. It’s not difficult or dense, and it provides the right amount of entertainment and intrigue to fill a summer vacation! Although I won’t be ranting and raving about it for weeks to come, I enjoyed the time I spent reading it!
❥❥❥ (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart