Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery

Nancy Springer
Fiction  Series
For ages 10 and up
Penguin, 2008   ISBN: 978-0142411902

Enola Holmes lives in a time when girls of her class are expected to learn how to play the piano, draw, and speak French. They have to wear horribly uncomfortable clothes, and cannot expect more out of life than to marry and have children. Enola’s mother believed in letting Enola learn whatever she wanted, and she gave her daughter a lot more freedom than most girls living in Victorian England had.

   Not long ago, on her fourteen birthday, Enola Holmes’ mother left home for parts unknown. Enola’s older brothers enrolled her in a boarding school, which did not suit Enola one little bit, so she ran away. Most girls would not be able to manage being out in the world on their own, but Enola is not at all like most girls. She is determined to build a life for herself that suits what she is interested in, and what she is interested in is solving puzzles and finding people who have disappeared.

   To this end, Enola has set up her own business, creating a fictitious male employer, Dr. Ragostin, who makes the company ‘respectable’ in the eyes of potential clients. Enola has created a persona for herself, Ivy Meshle, who is the good doctor’s assistant. Of course, Enola is the one who meets potential clients, and who solves their problems.

   At the moment Enola has a problem of her own. Her brother, Sherlock Holmes, is looking for her. He is worried that she might be in trouble, destitute and living on the streets. Though Enola cares for and admires her famous brother, she has no interest in being forced to live the life of a proper young lady. She likes the life she has created for herself.

   Then Dr. Ragostin, and therefore Enola, is hired to find a missing young woman. The daughter of a wealthy baronet, Lady Cecily Alistair, has disappeared, and her family is desperate to find her. It is believed that Lady Cecily ran away with a young man, but the police have not been able to find the girl, and the young man appears to be blameless. Enola visits the girl’s home, reads her diary, and finds some of her artwork. She discovers that Lady Cecily seems to have two sides; she is the demure obedient daughter, and at the same time she is a young woman who longs to do more with her life, to contribute to society and to stop wasting her time being a society belle. Somehow, Lady Cecily’s personality lies at the heart of her disappearance.

   This second Enola Holmes mystery will delight readers who enjoyed reading about her first adventure. The story is perfectly paced and carefully crafted, and the writing is a joy to read.