“Clearly she had a somewhat exaggerated view of my powers of deduction. Even though I pride myself on having learnt much from my distinguished tenant––lessons that have stood me in good stead on a number of occasions…this time…I was entirely at sea and told her so.”
Away from England and from the two gentlemen who treat her as a gentlewoman. And indeed during Sherlock Holmes’ great hiatus, Mrs. Hudson travels to the south of Ireland to help a friend. In her novel, Mrs. Hudson Goes To Ireland, Susan Knight welcomes us into the green wintry atmosphere of the country and people she knows so well. To Mrs. Hudson the town of Ferns in the County of Wexford is surprisingly different from her little home on Baker Street in the great city of London.
Mrs. Hudson has travelled here to help a friend free her god daughter from a forced marriage. And instead she becomes involved in a horrible murder. We are reminded of Holmes’ belief that sin easily dwells within the scattered houses of the isolated countryside. Using skills she learned from her famous lodgers and her own common sense, she finds the accused child is innocent. Yet, is faced with severe prejudice and treated in an ungentlemanly manner by the local police force who do not value her viewpoint. We all know how determined is Mrs. Hudson and despite these obstacles she finds a way.
The beauty of Ms. Knight’s novel is how well she portrays the condition of women in Ireland in the 1890s. She does this by her excellent characterizations. We know these women and care about their lives. We feel their frustration as the appalling conditions in which they live offer no way to improve or escape. She paints this so clearly we are drawn in and experience the uncertainty of their lives. The compassion this arouses in her readers brings us into the mystery as participants in the drama.
This book is one of a traditional series of Sherlock Holmes novels that Susan Knight has created from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s sparsely drawn character of Mrs. Hudson. Imaginatively filling out Sherlock Holmes’ landlady and creating her own series has allowed Ms. Knight a way to present the real lives and history of Victorian women. I highly recommend these books.
Review by Gretchen Altabef, MX Publishing Author of Sherlock Holmes: These Scattered Houses. The sequel, Sherlock Holmes: Remarkable Power of Stimulus is due to release November 2020. She is an editor and contributor of Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes facts for Jeremy Brett – Playing A Part, the definitive performance biography by Maureen Whittaker.