A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes # 2) [Audible Version] - An interesting sequel
It's hard to put into words how I feel about the sequel to The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I learned (and learn) a great deal from this book, I like seeing where Holmes and Russell's partnership evolve, and I love some scenes in this book. Yet, I understand why some people don't really enjoy parts of this book and there's a lot of information in this book - and its all about Mary's subject she read at Oxford, Religion.
I'll admit, the first time I read this (this re-read is my...more then 10th but less then 20th time), I was inundated and more then a bit lost. It does help in understanding to learn that Laurie R. King earned a masters in theology and her thesis is the basis of Russell's discussion and tutelage during the book. Thus the reason for the details. I was also not really knowledgeable about British feminism during this time (still not beyond what's in this book) and learned a great deal from this book. This is one of my favorite aspects of King's novels, the amount of things I learn from each text. It has taken multiple readings for me to even really get what they talk about sometimes...and I had a decent knowledge on parts of the top for awhile.
But this is not the part of the book that keeps me coming back. Those are the moments of humor, terror, and introspection that make up the evolving changes in Holmes and Russell's relationship. The last time we saw them, Mary had grown from a teenage apprentice to a near grown partner. Now we find her reading the age of majority as well as taking her first steps into academia post degree. However, all of this comes at the cost of her solid understanding with Holmes. Things have changed between them and it takes Russell time to figure out why. Those parts make this book for me.
However, the above spoiler does in a round about way lead to one of my favorite scenes in any of the books. After setting Holmes up to think she's going to actually talk about the big elephant that they've been dancing around, she asks him her burning question: "How are the fairies in your garden?" I laugh out loud every time. The whole build up of Holmes' reaction to Doyle's connection to the 'real' fairy pictures is well done and the payoff is perfection.
Once again the narration was perfect. Each character gets a different voice and the times when she gives voice to Mary's emotional inner voice were wonderful.
While I have my issues with this book, I still enjoy my re-reads and have never yet skipped it on a read through. It might take a bit to get through, but this book sets up a lot of what's to come. Well, on to the next one and the next trouble that finds our danger magnet main characters.