A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #2)

A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #2)

by Laurie R. King

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Winner of the Nero Wolfe Award

It is 1921 and Mary Russell--Sherlock Holmes's brilliant apprentice, now an Oxford graduate with a degree in theology--is on the verge of acquiring a sizable inheritance. Independent at last, with a passion for divinity and detective work, her most baffling mystery may now involve Holmes and the burgeoning of a deeper affection between herself and the retired detective. Russell's attentions turn to the New Temple of God and its leader, Margery Childe, a charismatic suffragette and a mystic, whose draw on the young theology scholar is irresistible. But when four bluestockings from the Temple turn up dead shortly after changing their wills, could sins of a capital nature be afoot? Holmes and Russell investigate, as their partnership takes a surprising turn in A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312427375
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 10/02/2007
Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series , #2
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 80,927
Product dimensions: 5.61(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.84(d)

About the Author

Laurie R. King is the Edgar Award-winning author of four contemporary novels featuring Kate Martinelli, eight acclaimed Mary Russell mysteries, and four stand-alone novels, including the highly praised A Darker Place. She lives in northern California.

Read an Excerpt

The alarming dip of the cab caused the horse to snort and veer sharply, and a startled, moustachioed face appeared behind the cracked glass of the side window, scowling at me. Holmes redirected his tongue's wrath from the prostitute to the horse and, in the best tradition of London cabbies, cursed the animal soundly, imaginatively, and without a single manifest obscenity. He also more usefully snapped the horse's head back with one clean jerk on the reins, returning its attention to the job at hand, while continuing to pull me up and shooting a parting volley of affectionate and remarkably familiar remarks at the fading Annalisa. Holmes did so like to immerse himself fully in his roles, I reflected as I wedged myself into the one-person seat already occupied by the man and his garments.

"Good evening, Holmes," I greeted him politely.

"Good morning, Russell," he corrected me, and shook the horse back into a trot.

"Are you on a job, Holmes?" I had known as soon as his arm reached down for me that if case it were, it did not involve the current passengers, or he should merely have waved me off.

"My dear Russell, those Americanisms of yours," he tut-tutted. "How they do grate on the ear. 'On a job.' No, I am not occupied with a case, Russell, merely working at the maintenance of old skills."

"And are you having fun?"

"'Having fun'?" He pronounced the words with fastidious distaste and looked at me askance.

"Very well; Are you enjoying yourself?"

He raised one eyebrow at my clothes before turning back to the reins.

"I might ask the same of you, Russell."

"Yes," I replied. "As a matter of fact, I am enjoying myself, Holmes,very much, thank you." And I sat back as best I could to do so.

Traffic even in the middle of London tends to die down considerably by the close of what Christians mistakenly call the Sabbath, and the streets were about as quiet now as they ever were. It was very pleasant being jolted about in a swaying seat eight feet above the insalubrious cobblestones, next to my one true friend, through the ill lit streets that echoed the horse's hoofs and the grind of the wheels, on a night cold enough to kill the smells and keep the fog at bay, but not cold enough to damage exposed flesh and fingertips. I glanced down at my companion's begrimed fingers where they were poised, testing the heavy leather for signs of misbehaviour from the still-fractious beast with the same sensitivity they exhibited in all their activities, from delicate chemical experiments to the tactile exploration of a clue. I was struck by a thought.

"Holmes, do you find that the cold on a clear night exacerbates your rheumatism as much as the cold of a foggy night?"

He fixed me with a dubious eye, then turned back to the job, lips no doubt pursed beneath the scarfs. It was, I realised belatedly, an unconventional opening for a conversation, but surely Holmes, of all people, could not object to the eccentric.

"Russell," he said finally, "it is very good of you to have come up from Sussex and stood on cold street corners for half the night striking up inappropriate friendships and flirting with pneumonia in order to enquire after my health, but perhaps having found me, you might proceed with your intended purpose."

"I had no purpose," I protested, stung. "I finished my paper more quickly than I'd thought, felt like spending the rest of the day with you rather than listening to my relations shrieking and moaning downstairs, and, when I found you missing, decided on a whim to follow you here and see if I might track you down. It was merely a whim," I repeated firmly. Perhaps too firmly. I hastened to change the subject. "What are you doing here, anyway?"

"Driving a cab," he said in a voice that told me that he was neither distracted nor deceived. "Go on, Russell, you may as well ask your question; you've spent seven hours in getting here. Or perhaps I ought to say, six years?"

"What on earth are you talking about?" I was very cross at the threat of having my nice evening spoilt by his sardonic, all-knowing air, though God knows, I should have been used to it by then. "I am having a holiday from the holidays. I am relaxing, following the enforced merriment of the last week. An amusing diversion, Holmes, nothing else. At least it was, until your suspicious mind let fly with its sneering intimations of omniscience. Really, Holmes, you can be very irritating at times. "

He seemed not in the least put out by my ruffled feathers, and he arched his eyebrow and glanced sideways at me to let me know it. I put up my chin and looked in the other direction.

"So you did not 'track me down,' as you put it, for any express purpose, other than as an exercise in tracking?"

"And for the pleasurable exercise of freedom, yes."

"You are lying, Russell."

"Holmes, this is intolerable. If you wish to be rid of me, all you need do is slow down and let me jump off. You needn't be offensive to me. I'll go."

"Russell, Russell," he chided, and shook his head.

"Damn it, Holmes, what can you imagine was so urgent that I should come all the way here in order to confront you with it immediately? Which, you may have noticed, I have not done?"

"A question you finally nerved yourself up to ask, and the momentum carried you along," he answered coolly.

"And what question might that be?" I did leave myself right open for it, but once launched in a path, it is difficult to change direction.

"I expect you came to ask me to marry you."

I nearly fell off the back of the cab.

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide

About this Guide

The following author biography and list of questions about A Monstrous Regiment of Women are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach A Monstrous Regiment of Women.

Discussion Questions

1. Throughout the novel, Laurie King plays with the idea of religion fulfilling not just spiritual but earthly needs, e.g. in the way that Margery Childe responds to the political desires of independent women, and also in the brief passage in which Veronica recounts her time in Italy, and her crush on a handsome priest. What does King's novel say about the intersection of religious and secular life, or the relationship between the two? To what degree does each character know what they want, and how to get it?

2. Margery Childe gives more than one radical reading of the first lines of Genesis, exploring not only the power of creation but of love. While Mary is always keen to scrutinize Childe's theology, what is the deeper affect of Childe's sermons on Mary? In what ways does King play with the age-old struggle between faith and reason in the novel? Are "faith" and "reason" at play as well when a man and woman are falling in love?

3. Is a mystery novel propelled by the movement of its plot or the dimension of its characters? In A Monstrous Regiment of Women the characters arrive with considerable depth and pathos. Margery Childe is described: "She shut her eyes for a long moment. When she openedthem, the magic had gone out of her, and she was just a small, tired, disheveled woman in an expensive dress, with a much-needed drink and cigarette to hand." In what ways do such descriptions and depth enhance the mystery and suspense of the story?

4. Laurie King draws significantly upon the history of the feminist movement in England. Would you say the book itself has a political point of view? What do you see as the difference between the feminist movements of then and now?

5. The Great War brought with it considerable social upheaval. In what ways does King show the impact of the war upon her characters – From Miles, Ronnie's fiancé, to Mary Russell and to Holmes himself?

6. From the food, to the wall hangings, to the style of dress, to the social and political attitudes of each character, to the presence of narcotics, Laurie King adorns and enriches her story with much historical detail. In what ways do these details, both small and large, help evoke the world of the story? What details were the most surprising to you?

7. In the Conan Doyle books, Watson at times seems like a surrogate for the reader, whom Holmes guides through the intricacies of the mystery. Could the same be said of Mary Russell? What are the differences between how she and Watson tell a story?

8. Both Mary Russell and Margery Childe come into a great deal of money, and both certainly have a taste for luxury. What moral dilemma do they face each time they spend money? Is Laurie King saying something about the moral implications of wealth? Of charity?

9. Perhaps humanity's greatest mystery is that of its existence, and some would say that the Bible is the case file of that mystery. Discuss the theological point of view of Monstrous Regiment, and how Mary's journey deep into the Bible at once illuminates the novel's ideas – about money, love, faith, and charity – and how it helps to move the mystery forward.

10. At the end of this book, a twenty-one year old woman marries a fifty-nine year old man. Does this strike you as outside, or within, the social norms of the time? In what ways do Russell and Holmes seem to reflect the values of their age, and in what ways do they seem progressive or ahead of their time? Do you think that historical fiction sometimes tends to overstate the propriety of that day and age? What seems to be King's take?

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A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell Series #2) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 84 reviews.
Cher58 More than 1 year ago
This second in the Mary Russell series gives the reader even more insight into the WWI era of Britain, in this case in particular the attitudes pertaining to and about women of the time. I found the mystery wrapped around the female "preacher" to be a great contrast to the murders that were happening around her. Laurie King's sense of timing enhances the relationship between the characters of Russell and Holmes. Anticipating the next repartee between these two is half the fun. I was reluctant at first to place Sherlock Holmes anywhere else but between the pages of Conan Doyle. Since reading three other books in the series I have found the partnership between Holmes and Russell to be an enhancement of Conan Doyles' masterpieces.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are a Sherlock Holmes purist, I'd stay clear of this one. While it is well-written enough, its focus was clearly not on the science of deduction or the mystery itself (Which wasn't all that difficult for the reader to solve). Didn't Holmes often complain to Watson about deviation away from the science of the crime for the sake of sensationlism? Anyway, this yellow back novel is entertaining for the less strict fans who may not notice the out of character qualities in Holmes, and delightful for fans who've always had a crush on him. But for the most part, purists (Like myself) should just read Beekeeper's Apprentice and be done with it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved The Beekeepers Apprentice and when I finished it I immediately bought this book. I did not like this book. It was tedious, however I enjoyed learning more about Mary. I will buy the next book in the series and hope for better.
iluvvideo More than 1 year ago
This is a 'middle' book. What I mean by that is that it seems to be mostly about setting up further character and plot developments rather than completely being a story unto itself. We get to learn much more about Mary Russell, her coming of majority, her inheritance, and learning to deal with aspects of both. Interwoven in this is a mystery, Russell is met by an old Oxford chum on London's streets and asked for help with an ill fiance. She follows along to a worship service at 'the Temple' which preaches in conflict to standard mores of the times. Women are more than subservient and obedient to their male counterparts, intelligent and vital and worth just as much on their own. Into this arena falls the mystery. I won't give any more away because it IS worth the read to find out what goes on. Sherlock Holmes is a bit of a supporting character, sometimes only appearing in Russell's mental ponderings. Clearly it is she who is the 'star' of the tale. And the final surprise? After almost two books tip toeing around about the it is finally solved in an seemingly offhanded manner. "oh yes, and by the way...". Maybe I exaggerate a little, but that's how it felt. All that aside I DID enjoy the book and look forward to reading the next in the series "Letter of Mary". I think this was just a 'middle book' after all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
King has done a beautiful job in creating, separating and then attaching Mary Russel not only to Sherlock Holmes, but also his legacy.
iluvvideo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a 'middle' book. What I mean by that is that it seems to be mostly about setting up further character and plot developments rather than completely being a story unto itself.We get to learn much more about Mary Russell, her coming of majority, her inheritance, and learning to deal with aspects of both. Interwoven in this is a mystery, Russell is met by an old Oxford chum on London's streets and asked for help with an ill fiance. She follows along to a worship service at 'the Temple' which preaches in conflict to standard mores of the times. Women are more than subservient and obedient to their male counterparts, intelligent and vital and worth just as much on their own. Into this arena falls the mystery. I won't give any more away because it IS worth the read to find out what goes on. Sherlock Holmes is a bit of a supporting character, sometimes only appearing in Russell's mental ponderings. Clearly it is she who is the 'star' of the tale. And the final surprise? After almost two books tip toeing around about the it is finally solved in an seemingly offhanded manner. "oh yes, and by the way...". Maybe I exaggerate a little, but that's how it felt.All that aside I DID enjoy the book and look forward to reading the next in the series "Letter of Mary". I think this was just a 'middle book' after all.
Stewartry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Monstrous Regiment of Women isn't my favorite of the Holmes/Russell novels, but that's a little like saying dark isn't my favorite type of chocolate. It's still chocolate, and therefore by definition far better than many another thing. Mary Russell has graduated from Oxford, is about to turn twenty-one and achieve separation from her horrible aunt ¿ and her joy at these two events is dampened a bit by the peculiarities of her evolving relationship with her mentor Holmes, never an easy person to deal with at the best of times. It is while Mary is, literally, on the run from him that a friend from school runs into her by chance, and she needs help. Not financial, by any means, but in most other ways: her fiancé has come home from the war in something less than the shape she saw him off in, and there's also something going on at a church she has begun to frequent¿ Mary, the logical-minded theology scholar, raises eyebrows at the "church", but she agrees to help, if for no other reason than that her partnership with Holmes is being challenged by an extraordinary circumstance and she needs occupation. Preferably some occupation in which she can prove herself to be independent of her iconic mentor. She is drawn into the orbit of Margery Childe, the proto-feminist mystic head of the New Temple of God, and her expectations are upended. The obvious chicanery she anticipated is nowhere to be seen, and instead Childe turns out to be a small woman of tremendous charisma ¿ and, perhaps, something else. Russell is on her own through much of MRoW. Holmes swoops in to bear off the shell-shocked and drug-addicted fiancé to an Edwardian rehab facility, and appears here and there for the rest of the story, but this is mostly Russell's investigation. She grows and expands in this book, not all in positive ways as the story takes a wild left turn into kidnapping and drug addiction. It's painful, and difficult ¿ and melodramatic and improbable ¿ and Laurie R. King sells it.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A disturbing sort of story, but very good. A yummy ending.
vegaheim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
second in series, great
robbieg_422 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well¿.I¿ve managed to do it again. I¿ve read a series book out of sequence¿.accidentally, of course. A Monstrous Regiment of Women is the second of The Mary Russell Mysteries by Laurie R. King. The first, apparently, was The Beekeeper¿s Apprentice, which I will have to get to at some point. No matter---on with the review.This is an historical mystery, taking place in early twentieth century London. The main character, Mary Russell, is the apprentice of none other than an aging and near retirement Sherlock Holmes. Now, normally, I do not like it when an author uses someone else¿s idea; someone else¿s fame; to further their own careers by `easing¿ a new story out of an already-known character or story, and in the process ruining said character or story for me¿er¿the reader¿forever . (Wicked, and Son of a Witch come to mind¿.). I will give small allowance in this case, as King didn¿t mutilate Holmes¿ existing stories, or completely alter who we, as readers, know him to be (at least not too much¿.). I draw the line at books that have Jane Austen or Beatrix Potter and her animals solving mysteries¿.these are bridges that were never intended to be built, and should not be crossed¿. but back to this book (I do have trouble staying on task).We meet Mary Russell in the opening lines, and learn that she is a scholar and theologian. The story is told from her point of view. Through an old Oxford friend, she stumbles onto a sort of feminist/forward thinking church led by a very Charismatic woman. As Mary spends more time here, she begins to wonder where the money comes from, and then people start to die, and¿.well¿.you¿ve got yourself a mystery. What kept me reading wasn¿t the mystery, but rather, Mary¿s character. She is a bit of an oddball, kind of like her mentor, Sherlock Holmes, who helps her sort things out, and shows up whenever she needs him. He¿s part mentor/part¿something indefinable. There is also an underlying romance here (which made me gag just a little¿.) that was just subtle enough to be ok. There were a few references to the first Mary Russell mystery¿the one I should have read first¿..that left me guessing at Mary¿s past. She referred to an experience, or conversation, or situation that the reader was obviously supposed to know from the first book. Either way, I was able to follow it, and enjoyed going along for the ride. This is a good rainy/snowy day read; nothing too deep. I¿ll probably read The Beekeeper¿s Apprentice, just to find out what happened to Mary earlier that affected her physical/mental condition in portions of this one, and how she came to know Sherlock Holmes. 3 ½ stars out of 5.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A pleasant sequel to The Beekeeper's Apprentice. On the negative side, the mystery was not as satisfying as that of the first book and the apprehension of the villain was accomplished with very little tension, action or excitement. On the positive side, this is much more of a Mary Russell book than a Holmes story, giving us a better picture of her character, her strengths and weaknesses, the similarities and differences between her and Holmes. Perhaps it was just the similar post-War, Oxford setting, perhaps it was a deliberate act upon Ms. King's part, but I could not stop seeing the parallels with Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy Night—the book in which Harriet steps out of Peter's shadow and unravels her own mystery.As for the ending...it's obviously on the reader's mind from the beginning of the book. Perhaps, given the book I think she was emulating, it was inevitable. However, it does seem a bit jarring to 21st century sensibilities. I'll give Ms. King the benefit of the doubt and wait until I've read more works in the series to decide if she can carry it off.
JFlinders on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From page one, the writing is on the wall. Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell are meant for each other. They just have to figure out how to get over Victorian mores, his years of bachelorhood, her determination to be a feminist scholar that has nothing to do with husbands and family, all while solving a complicated case involving spiritualists, women's groups and more.
bearette24 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The second novel in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series focuses on a women's movement, affiliated with the church and called the Temple. The Temple's teachings intrigue Mary, who majored in theology, after all. But soon she notices that women who have made bequests to the Temple in their wills are being murdered. A little too violent for me, but an interesting addition to the series.
sgerbic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reviewed April 1998 I enjoyed this book very much, I tried to be very careful while reading it to keep it looking new. The author did not re-visit the 1st book as most authors do in a series. In this mystery, Mary Russell comes into her money and almost re-invents herself. She graduates from Oxford with a degree in theology and chemistry. Russell meets up with an old friend who involves her in a "Christian" woman's group. The mystery is everywhere. We also learn that Holmes lost a son to drugs, but no information is given to explain how this happened. The ending again as in the 1st in the series is a bit unbelievable, almost as if it was an afterthought. 18-1998
theokester on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I jumped into this second book in the 'Mary Russell' series, hoping it would be as good or better than the first novel, The Beekeeper's Apprentice. Beyond that, I really had no expectations.The book started out a little slower than I might have liked for a sequel. However, the genre and the way the book is set up essentially required a certain amount of buildup in order to set the plot for the newest mystery in the series.Thus, even though we already had a great deal of information about the relationship between Mary Russell and the famous Sherlock Holmes, it was vital that we learned more about Mary's studies, her "coming of majority" and receiving her inheritance, her interest in scripture/religion, and basically take the time to get to know her better.It's been a bit since I read the first book, but it seemed like this novel focused a lot more on Mary's character and let her come into the limelight a bit more. In Beekeeper, she did hold her own with Holmes in many ways, but he was often an overpowering factor. In Monstrous Regiment, the general setting (a feminist organization), Holmes was forced to take the passenger seat (he most definitely wasn't relegated to the back seat).Holmes was still very present with all of his precise observations and intense/eccentric behaviors. But Mary definitely came "of majority" both in terms of receiving her inheritance but also in terms of being a viable character and a force to be reckoned with.The mystery of the book was developed very gradually. Mary has a school friend who is having some 'man trouble' and seeks Mary's advice. Before we go too far into thinking that he will be at the heart of the plot, Mary is quickly invited to attend a 'service' at this "Regiment of Women" where she becomes very intrigued by the woman who controls the organization. Her intrigue grows to a combination of admiration, curiosity and finally suspicion. A handful of coincidental deaths lead Mary to dig deeper and to use some of Holmes's influence to utilize police (and other - Mycroft) records to investigate the society. The "man problems" subplot managed to stay in the periphery due to the man's drug addiction and I really liked the way King wove the drug addiction throughout the main plot as well. Her descriptions of the "high" and "low" points of addiction and recovery were very vivid and especially intriguing as Mary experienced some of that dark underworld.The final unraveling of the mystery happened a bit too quickly for me after the slow buildup. Fortunately there was an intense period towards the end that helped bridge the gap. The 'revelation' phase did work out pretty well, though part of me still felt like there were a number of unfair additions (primarily who the real villain was) but there was enough previous buildup to make it work.So overall, I really enjoyed this book. I had a lot of fun getting to know Russell a bit better and to learn more about her interactions with Holmes (there was on surprise referred to early on that then hangs over the entire book and partially resolves itself at the end¿I'd heard rumors of this from my wife when she read the series, but the way Holmes presented this to Mary still shocked me). The Regiment of Women was very interesting both in terms of their makeup in the plot and the ideas and concepts presented. There were a lot of very interesting religious and educational discussions that were a lot of fun.This book is definitely a sequel to its predecessor. If you wanted to read it as a standalone, you could certainly do that without missing out on too much. But the first book was good as well so I'd suggest that if you're interested at all. I'm looking forward to reading through the rest of the series and so far I can heartily recommend it.****4 out of 5 stars
ruby1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The second in Laurie King's series about Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell, a young, brilliant, Jewish scholar and detective in post WWI England. Here, she meets a mystical woman preacher in London, who is using her considerable talents to run a women's shelter and a political organization for women's rights. Mary Russell (or Russell, as Holmes calls her) must ferret out who is killing off the preacher's devotees, and almost loses her own life in the process. This series, told first person by Russell, is packed with subtle religious references that impact on the mystery stories she is telling--like bat qol, the Jewish reference to the feminine nature of God. It sounds heavy, but it isn't...and it is fascinating to watch how an intelligent author weaves religious commentary, mystery, and droll wit with such expertise.
lexxa83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to say that I did not like the book quite as much as the first in this series. I think that I was intrigued with the developing relationship between Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, and felt that it was more of a subplot than I had hoped it to be. Instead the book focuses on Mary Russell's first individual case which involved a feminist moment as the book title indicates. For whatever reason I was not a particularly interested in "the case" and found myself skipping through the pages looking for parts that involved Holmes instead. I am looking forward to the remaining books that I hope have more focus on the relationship aspects of the characters.
mldavis2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Second in Laurie King's Mary Russell adventures with Sherlock Holmes, this book takes the Russell series away from Doyle and firmly into King's territory. Touching on issues of religion and women's liberation, the plot is woven into a bit of romance as author gender roles reverse. The book is a good story for Holmes and Russell fans, and dangles the carrot of further adventures before mystery lovers. Although I found the romance a bit strong in this one, King writes a fine story interspersed with some interesting views on biblical translation.
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sequel to The Beekeeper¿s Apprentice.Desperate to escape cloying Christmas celebrations with her detested aunt and barely-known relatives, Russell in one of her favorite disguises--that of a young working-class male, takes off for London, where she has a hilarious encounter with Homes that I refuse to spoil. Later, she meets an old friend from Oxford, Lady Veronica Beaconsfield, who is living in a tenement and working to aid lower-class families. Ronnie takes Russell to a lecture by Margery Childe, who leads The New Temple of God church/charitable organization in London. Childe is a striking, charismatic woman who challenges religious gender roles and who has built a volunteer organization dedicated to improving the lot of women and children in post World War I London; she has eventual political ambitions. She is controversial, but has gathered around her a circle of well-bred young women who are totally dedicated to her and her vision. But there are suspicious deaths, in which some of the wealthy young women around Margery have died, conveniently leaving to The New Temple of God--and thus Childe--large sums of money.¿Bluestocking¿ has a faint negative connotation; these days, it implies a somewhat prudish woman. But the term originated in the mid-18th century, almost 75 years before the time in which this story takes place, and was used to describe both an educated, intellectual woman and an organization mainly composed of such women. However, the term was in use during the post World War I suffragette movement; Russell herself is called that by other women. A Monstrous Regiment of Women, as a backdrop to the plot, provides wonderful insights into that movement and the kind of women it attracted and why. It¿s very well handled.The main plot is very good if somewhat predictable, but the subplots given the book depth and texture, especially the personal one involving Holmes and Russell. This book has all of King¿s strengths: excellent characterization, strong writing and storytelling, and absolutely fascinating backdrops in social issues and religious ones as well, involving that of the feminine images of God in the Hebrew Testament.While not as strong as some of the other installments in the series, we¿re talking relative here; this is still an outstanding book. Highly recommended.
siubhank on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mary Russell is a week away from her 21st birthday and has finished her studies at Oxford. Finally at an age where she inherits her parents vast estate, she struggles with her newfound freedom, the burden of responsibility and starts to look at parts of herself and Holmes that she'd been able to avoid when she was a girl. In an effort to distance herself from him a bit, Mary renews an Oxford friendship and finds herself drawn to the charismatic leader of a feminist church/society movement, intellectually and spiritually. A series of deaths attached to the society sends Mary and by proxy, Holmes himself into the investigation. Mary is exposed to the seamiest sides of London as she tries to balance depending on Holmes with wanting to do things her own way. A lot has been made of the romance between Mary and Holmes -but the romance is still sparingly written and is actually kind of sweet. A reader looking for passionate clinches and sex is not going to find it in these books; even compared to the tamest of today's romance novels, the scenes here are the mildest of mild.
Kathy89 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mary Russell turns 21 and inherits her fortune while studying for her final exams at Oxford. Through a friend she gets involved in a woman's religious movement and puts her life in danger. Sherlock Holmes to the rescue and they realize that they can not live without one another.I really enjoyed the pygmalion aspect of this book. This is my favorite of the Russell/Holmes series.
alanna1122 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I was nervous at first that I hadn't left enough time between this and my reading of "the beekeeper's apprentice" when the first chapter seemed a little *too* familiar... but it really picked up from there. I thought the plot was interesting and inventive. I didn't think the ending was too surprising... but in a way it was refreshing to have an ending that was not too contrived and made sense inthe contet of the book...I am looking forward to the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just reread it after a number of years for the pleasure of spending time with young Mary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where Russell was teasing Mrs. Hudson about wearing her apron to bed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago