saying good-bye

on

The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye: An Enola Holmes Mystery

by Nancy Springer

Philomel Books (Penguin) 2010.

166 pages (hardback)

As Enola searches for the missing Lady Blanchefleur del Campo, she discovers that her brother Sherlock is just as diligently searching for Enola herself—and this time he really needs to catch her! He is in possession of a most peculiar package, a message from their long-lost mother that only Enola can decipher. Sherlock, along with their brother Mycroft, must follow Enola into the reeking tunnels of London’s dark underbelly as they solve a triple mystery: What has happened to their mother? And to Lady Blanchefleur? And what does either have to do with Mycroft, who holds Enola’s future in his everso- proper hands? ~publisher’s comments

The sixth book in the Enola Holmes Mystery series, The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye, feels like Nancy Springer is saying good-bye. And according to this by the Publisher, she is:

“No one, not even Sherlock, is left unchanged or unsurprised in this brilliant conclusion to the Enola Holmes mystery series.”

Hopefully, Springer means only to say good-bye to the current overarching storyline: Where is Enola Holmes’ mother? And must Enola narrowly dodge her brothers forever? Must Enola always be alone?

The last sentence in The Gypsy Good-bye, spoken by Enola’s elder brother Sherlock, leaves open an eventual possible return of Enola Holmes, Perditorian. Maybe when she is older? I hope so. I have really enjoyed this series.

*****************

The Enola Holmes mysteries are best read in order, each possessing some thread to the previous, but to get a hold of any has always been my primary recommendation. I might have to amend and say that perhaps reading the first book The Case of the Missing Marquess and the second, The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, would better prepare the reader for The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye. While the references to previous adventures therein are satisfactory, I think it a better experience having at least read the first book.

As usual, the mystery is unusual. The unusual flavor of Springer’s plots have much to do with the foreignness of London England 1889 and its culture. The context is everything and Springer labors strenuously (though deftly) to situate the reader in 1889 London.  Descriptions involve clothing and etiquette and cabs; the poor and the wealthy, male and female. Springer doesn’t rely on cliché or Reader knowledge/assumptions. And while sometimes Enola’s disguises may slow the pace of the story, Springer is not in the least extraneous or irrelevant. The landscape, to include the persons (characters), are important to a very character-driven series of stories.  The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye being easily the most character-driven plot line of the six.

In The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye the series returns to the questions that have been building with increasing tension. Springer has wisely chosen to reply, which to my sadness creates an end. To the reader’s delight, this involves more Mycroft, and more Sherlock. And while this novel spends time reviewing Enola’s circumstances, her capabilities and reviews the places she’s been and the people she has met, Springer does not forgo another enjoyable mystery—one that has the usual implications, and the usual twist that makes it a case well suited for the female investigator Enola Holmes.

Told from female point-of-view, in Enola’s first person narrative addressing her “dear reader,” the novels provide a differing perspective on late 19th century London. The premise of Enola Holmes success is grounded in the fact that she is female and that she was raised by her Suffragist Free-Thinking Mother. Such information that she would have and Sherlock would not is intriguing. Enola has been taught femininity and has been taught the consequences of being female in England 1889. This weighs heavily in her favor as she and Sherlock are often in competition. However in this last novel Enola and Sherlock finally work together.

What happens to the missing Lady Blanchefleur (so aptly named) is the perfect mystery to bring the Enola Holmes mysteries full circle. It brings home why Enola was wise to avoid Mycroft’s misguided intentions for her care, and provides some excuse for Eudoria Holmes choices. Eudoria, especially in contrast to Lady Blanchefleur’s mother, is finally cast in a more positive light.

Enola has aged over the course of the series (a span of one year) and she notes the changes in The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye. She is ready to be older, more decisive and less reactionary, more confident and less fearful. She has been a wonderful character to follow. I am sad to see her go, and hopeful Springer will return at some point with another series featuring an older Enola. Or a series for the older crowd with an older Enola? I am going to pretend anyhow. I loathe saying good-bye.

 

my review of The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline (Philomel, 2009). Nancy Springer's Website.

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