a timeless classic

How many different versions of Sherlock Holmes can you think of? Just pause for a second and try to count how many you can remember.

You probably got

  • the Arthur Conan Doyle originals
  • the Robert Downey Jr. films
  • the BBC modern version
  • the Jeremy Brett TV series

and probably many more (drop them in the comments below) but there are also the other novel adaptations of it.

  • the Young Sherlock Holmes series by Andrew Lane
  • House of Silk and Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
  • even a novel from Moriarty’s perspective called Professor Moriarty: Hound of the D’Urbervilles by Kim Newman

But just WHY are the stories so popular?

Is it the characters? The mystery? The constantly unresolved sexual tension of almost ALL modern versions?

Conan Doyle’s original characters are simply so incredibly well-written that it makes it so tempting to write them with your own twist (the modern adaptations and ALL of the fanfiction!), but what is it about the characters that make them so appealing?

I think that it is at least in part that Holmes manages to be both a genius but also, as John says in the BBC’s modern version, ‘the most human… human-being’. This combination of the aloof detective with the sudden flashes of deep humanity is what makes Sherlock Holmes the incredible character that he is.

But we absolutely cannot forget his companion, his Boswell, his blogger. Dr John Watson. The wonderfully compelling mysteries are told by Watson in his stories of his best friend, the great detective. It is through Watson that we are shown Holmes’ more human attributes and also, because John often doesn’t understand Sherlock’s leaps of logic, gives Conan Doyle a reason to explain how Holmes reached that point (which is incredibly helpful as a reader and stops me feeling completely out of the loop!).

And to talk about Sherlock Holmes properly, one must also talk about the Napoleon of Crime. The Spider. Professor James Moriarty. Whilst he is only really the villain in one the novels (The Final Problem) he is probably one of the greatest villains in crime fiction. With the incredible cunning and ruthlessness of a master criminal and the extreme intelligence and practicality of a maths professor, he truly is a force to be reckoned with.

He plays more of a role in newer versions of Sherlock Holmes. He is the main villain in the first two series of the BBC’s show Sherlock and Anthony Horowitz wrote a novel titled Moriarty. But perhaps the most notable of the Moriarty-centred novels is Kim Newman’s novel Professor Moriarty Hounds of the D’Urbervilles. This follows the story of Moriarty from before he arrives in Holmes’ world. It is, in contrast to the originals, narrated by Colonel Sebastian Moran, who could be described as Moriarty’s Watson. However, the relationship they have is very different, Moran is Moriarty’s assassin and generally does the dirty work for him but the characters and stories are just as enjoyable.

I think the best part is that Newman makes no real attempt to present them as ‘misunderstood’ or ‘really good at heart’. Both Moriarty and Moran are villains to the core (if villains with at least some morals!) and neither wishes to be anything else. Moran often mentions the joy he gets from crime (specifically murder… he really likes murder) and there is one scene where Moriarty sets up a brutal attack outside their house and the two sit back and enjoy the carnage. However, the characters (Sebastian more than James) are still incredibly likeable and this is a difficult thing to pull off. But pull it off he does!

Honestly, if you like Sherlock Holmes even a little bit (maybe you only watched the BBC version for Benedict Cumberbatch) then please give it a read. You will not be disappointed, I promise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

books for autumn days

The nights are drawing in, the mornings are getting colder, and Starbucks have brought back their pumpkin spiced lattes. It must be autumn.

And these long nights are the perfect excuse to curl up with a mug of tea and read. This is my list of perfect autumn reads from 5 to 1.

5. The Night Manager

  • Not actually, I will freely admit, one that I have read yet but it is high on my to-read list and I feel that autumn is the perfect time to do this. This fast-paced, intelligent thriller is exactly what you need when the weather outside is cold and wet – particularly if you get a heavy rainstorm, the ambience will only add to the story.

4. Inkheart

  • If crime thrillers aren’t for you, then try a fantasy novel instead. Inkheart is a personal favourite of mine – and I’m sure of most bookworms – as is there really anything better than a novel all about the beauty and power of words? The beautiful descriptions and delightful storyline are enchanting, no matter how old you get so please do not discount this on the merit of a being a children’s story because you will be missing out on a wealth of enjoyment.

3. The Hobbit

  • Another fantasy option for those of you who still feel that Inkheart isn’t for you. Dive headfirst into the wonderful world of Middle Earth that Tolkien creates in The Hobbit. It is a lovely story with a brilliant adventure at its heart and incredibly beautiful descriptions at every turn. Whilst it may be tempting to stick the films on and sit back, but I implore you to read it instead. The films are excellent, I am not saying that at all, but there is simply something about a book. The Hobbit goes especially well with hot chocolate, a blanket and a scented candle.

2. The Final Problem

  • Or any other Sherlock Holmes novels actually. I have a particular affinity for detective stories and Sherlock Holmes have to be the ultimate, do they not? But, the Final Problem is the perfect autumn novel as it is simultaneously both an ending yet also not an ending – the same could be said of autumn, the end of the blossom and the leaves but the beginning of winter. The wickedly intelligent storyline with a treasury of incredible characters makes this novel a true classic and a firm favourite.

1.  The Girl on the Train

  • The ultimate recent crime thriller. And honestly, the title is truly deserved because the tension created throughout the novel makes it a real spine-chiller. I can’t say too much without spoiling it so I’ll keep this extremely brief. The perfect novel to read curled up at home, but I would suggest perhaps reading it with the light on.

 

There you go, there are my top five autumn novels. Let me know what your number one autumn read is in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“just because it’s proven, doesn’t mean it’s true”

Slam poetry is a form of poetry that I never really thought would appeal to me. Poetry is a private, personal thing. Not something that you share during an open mic night at university. But then, I stopped being such a poetry snob, put down my collection of Byron and listened to some slam poetry with a (slightly) more open mind. The first one I stumbled across was called ‘Hi, I’m a slut’ and can be found on YouTube (I would suggest listening to it, if you haven’t already) I never thought that slam poetry would appeal to me…

Damn, was I wrong!

It was one of the most incredible poems I’ve ever found and honestly, I think I must have listened to it at least a hundred times in the last six months. I will never again shun a kind of poetry because it doesn’t fit in with my previous expectations.

Savannah Brown’s poem holds so much raw emotion that, in fact, I now feel it would be impossible to enjoy it in any way other than as performance poetry. If you just read it from a book, you lose so much of that emotion because so much of it is just from her voice, not even the words. It’s amazing, go listen to it now! Now!

But, it was not actually this poem that encouraged me to write this post. But another brilliant piece of slam poetry from Harry Baker – slam poetry world champion. An incredible poem called ‘Paper People’. To manage to talk about politics and greed and war and still manage to make me laugh in less than three minutes is pretty impressive. What starts as a deceptively simple poem (simple thematically, I mean!) quickly becomes a wonderfully astute critique of society as a whole.

And, as you’ll know if you read my post about The Great Gatsby, there is nothing I love more than a social critique of society!

But, if I thought that simply listening to it was incredible, I very quickly found that it was nothing compared to seeing it performed live.

I was lucky enough to be able to see Harry Baker live as part of the Appledore Book Festival – a large literary festival set in a very small town – and honestly, I was completely blown away.

Because his poetry is so much more incredible when you’re part of it – and that is saying something, because I thought that it was pretty damn incredible before this – because when you actually have to repeat the random German phrase back at him, it’s a lot more fun than mumbling it awkwardly under your breath! The atmosphere makes everything more wonderful and honestly, I would do it all over again right now if I could.

And if getting to see him perform wasn’t enough, I also got to meet him afterwards… I wanted to tell him how amazing I thought his poetry was but instead all I managed was my name and an awkward request for a photo. (maybe if I’m lucky he’ll find this and know how amazing I think he was)

But the main point of this post is not to prove to you all how awkward I am but in fact to encourage you to give slam poetry a chance because it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Actually, not just to give slam poetry a chance but instead to give everything a chance, particularly if you’ve already decided that you won’t like it. Basically, as long as it’s legal, give it a go!