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I finished this story this morning. Finding that I can read a story a day but am trying not to read more as sure that I will start to muddle them up and forget details.

 

Felt pretty sorry for the heroine of this story and hoped that she took the advice of Holmes and did not wait years for the return of her lover. Again guessed part of the outcome. Although pretty sure that the dastardly stepfather was concerned within the plot did not guess that he and the lover were one and the same. Thought the detail of the typewriter keys and the clues they gave was a bit of a well used idea but have once again to remember the age of the story and the fact that many of the ideas used may have been new at the time.

 

Continue to enjoy the portrayal of the friendship between Holmes and Watson. Almost wish I had such a supportive and likeable chap as Watson as a friend myself. I am not sure that I would take Holmes' constant amusement at his perceived belief of the slowness of Watson's deductive skills in quite such good form as Watson. Almost hoping that Watson will beat Holmes to an idea one day.

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I think you may wait in vain, cherrypie.  I don't think Watson ever gets the better of Holmes.

 

I liked this story right up until the end.  I was pretty shocked that Holmes just left the heroine hanging with some excuse about it being dangerous to snatch a delusion from a woman.  Insulting enough, although that was the time, but particularly insulting because this heroine deserved better from one man after having been treated so abominably by another.  I have decided that Conan Doyle probably had bumped up against a deadline.  There are a few other stories I felt that way about, too, so that may be something we should expect from stories that were written under tight deadlines for serial publication.

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What bothered me wasn't just that Holmes left her hanging , but he left her believing she was safe in her home and that her mother was on her side! If mother and stepfather would go to those lengths to insure that they kept the use of her money, there is really no telling how far they would go! "Run away Miss Sutherland" was the absolute least that Holmes owed her. Victorian or not, deadline or not, this ending was entirely too facile.

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I have to agree with both these views.  Felt that a number of the stories do peter out a bit.  As to Holmes' treatment of Miss Sutherland I agree that it was rather cavalier.  Would have expected better of Watson if not Holmes.  Watson always appears to me to be a kind hearted soul who really cares about others - jury out a bit on Holmes. 

 

One thing I would mention here regarding Holmes' treatment of women is that over the years I am sure that it has been suggested that there could be homosexual overtones to the Holmes and Watson relationship and although I have never really thought of it in these terms this could be another reason for Holmes' treatment of women in general.  When considering the relationship from this point of view I have never considered Watson to be gay, he is married by now and often refers to a number of females as stunning etc..  Holmes does not seem to see women in this way but I am not sure that he sees men in this way either.  

 

Wonder if anyone else has considered this while reading the stories?

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Thought the detail of the typewriter keys and the clues they gave was a bit of a well used idea but have once again to remember the age of the story and the fact that many of the ideas used may have been new at the time.

 

Apparently, this was the first time a typewriter's irregularities were used to solve a case! (I have no idea where I read that, so could be wrong.)

 

Anyway, I didn't like this story much. It felt it quite dense and heavy in the writing style, unlike "A Scandal in Bohemia". I also was not taken by the name Hosmer Angel, and idly wonder if it could be an anagram ... or has some other significance? 

 

I found the ending unsatisfactory - Holmes's preoccupation with explaining to Watson how he so cleverly solved the case, rather than concerning himself with assisting the victim.  His excuse (that the victim may end up hating him for revealing the delusion) doesn't sit well with his character.

 

But I do like the way Watson tries so hard to be observant, but somehow knows that he has - as Holmes delights in telling him - "missed everything of importance." I see Watson chuckling at this criticism.

Edited by Ting Mikyunyu

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I found the ending unsatisfactory - Holmes's preoccupation with explaining to Watson how he so cleverly solved the case, rather than concerning himself with assisting the victim. 

I suspect that Holmes' creator is more interested in getting the case solved and showcasing Holmes than in helping the victims. Rather like our current justice system, as many victims of crime can attest.

Holmes concerns himself with logical deduction from the facts, and avoids emotional involvement. He is a detective, not a social worker

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Holmes concerns himself with logical deduction from the facts, and avoids emotional involvement. He is a detective, not a social worker

Yes, but ... I still felt his reply was a bit weak. I think I would have preferred Holmes to say: "I'm a crime-solver, Doctor Watson, not a social worker".

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Yes, but ... I still felt his reply was a bit weak. I think I would have preferred Holmes to say: "I'm a crime-solver, Doctor Watson, not a social worker".

 

I think I wouldn't have been happy with anything other than Holmes or Watson finding her and telling her what had happened so that she could live her life accordingly.  I'm afraid that "run away" was not a serious possibility at that time, but surely there was something more that Holmes and Watson could have done for this poor woman.  

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I'm pretty sure, Binker, that even in Victorian Times adult women were'allowed' to move out of there parent's home. She was gainfully employed and money from the inheritance. She could have 'run away'. :-)

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She would have become an adventuress if she did that, which would have removed her from polite society.  

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In this story, Miss Sutherland had received an income from her Uncle Ned in Aukland.  She says that her parents have the use of the money while she lives with them (perhaps not legally, but she says she doesn't want to be a burden), so she earns extra money typewriting.  She doesn't earn enough to live on, but even if that money and the inheritance where enough for her to live on, she would never risk the social ostracism of living away from the "protection" of her family.  She would have been abandoning any ability to marry and be part of the society in which she was raised.  Plus, I doubt she could have done it.  I'm certain that if she tried to take off with it and live on her own, her mother and father would undertake some of the schemes described in the article I've linked to below to get the money back in their control.  So their only real risk would be if she married because then the money would belong to her husband (or possibly to her--the Married Women's Property Act was passed in 1882).  Hence their plot to keep her always waiting for her "one true love."

 

http://www.hastingspress.co.uk/history/19/overview.htm

 

That's really the whole point of The Woman in White (1859) and a big plot point in Fingersmith.  And if you think about it, that's some of the issue with The Speckled Band, which takes place in 1883.  I think there was a lot of upheaval at the time of these stories related to women and their property.  While they were unmarried, their family could use social restrictions to get access to their money.  After marriage, the money could belong to her (from 1883 on).  Before 1883, it belonged to her husband.

 

These stories all take place just before and just after the passage of that law, which is interesting.  I have also noticed in re-reading these all at the same time that Holmes, in particular, seems to value smart, brave, and independent women and is irritated by silly romantic women (which is how I'm afraid Holmes would describe Miss Sutherland).  I wonder if Conan Doyle (or Doyle--I'm never quite sure what to do with his name) was making a political statement with these stories that I never really noticed before.  If so, I think he was pointing out that the old system placed many wonderful women in exceedingly vulnerable positions and it was good that it had been changed. 

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You are probably correct Binker, about the sacrifices she'd have made in leaving her parents house. I've never actually understood wanting to associate with a 'class' of people, rather than choosing your acquaintances based on character and compatibility, but I recognize it was common it that period. Be that as it may, it would still seem to me to be better to disassociate from people who had so little compassion for one that they would pull that kind of heartless scam.

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I really don't think she had a lot of choices there.  The whole system was designed to deny women any choice or independence. Where would she find people with similar character and compatibility when no one believed in female independence and self-actualization?  If she "fell" out of her class, she'd just fall into people with the exact same beliefs only poorer.   And my guess is that that isn't what would happen--if you look at the link or read other books of the period, it wasn't uncommon to have women who were being recalcitrant about their money declared insane and locked up.   Her only hope at that time would be to marry a nice man (surely she could find someone nicer than her step-father), which her mother and step-father had worked out, too, and thus tried to make sure would never happen.  By not warning her, Holmes and Watson made sure that their scheme worked because she would wait and wait and wait until she became unmarriageable.  Really nefarious.

 

Edited to fix the last sentence to make it clear WHO was had not warned the poor young lady, leaving her to the predations of her relatives.

Edited by Binker

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I bow to your greater knowledge and wisdom Binker. Such barbaric attitudes are beyond my ken. But that all does make it even more nefarious!

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Having read a lot of literature from the time - or there about - would have to agree that she had very  little choice.  She did not seem to be of an independent character so setting up on her own outside her class would have been very difficult.  The best that women of her class that had fallen on hard times could really hope for was a post as either a governess or a paid companion.  Neither a particularly pleasant position as the women was not part of the family she worked for so was often treated poorly by them but did not belong in the servant class so was shunned by them.  She often found herself friendless and lonely.

 

I do think however that Holmes should have pointed out her position to Miss Sutherland and at least given her a fighting chance of seeking someone else.  As far as I an see unless of very strong character marriage was the only way out for many women of this class at this time.

 

Very glad to live now and not then!

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This one was quite obvious early on when Miss Sutherland's stepfather, who is not much older than herself,  goes away to France while she, her mother and the foreman went to the gasfitter's ball and Miss Sutherland meets Mr. Hosmer Angel.  This coupled with her poor eyesight and the man's disguise fool Miss Sutherland into thinking she has met a lover.  It is a cruel plot especially since she comes to believe that she is bound to this man.  When her stepfather doesn't take any action to help her to try and find this man she seeks help from Holmes who solves the matter quickly.  It doesn't do her any good though as she is now beholden to a man that she won't see again and won't find as he is none other than her stepfather who with the mother have sought to hang on to the income every month from Miss Sutherland, who is now well and truly stuck with them.  I can't see that telling her about the deception would be helpful as she has few options.  This story left me feeling a bit disgruntled about the circumstances although fiction - it sounds like the kind of thing that could have happened in those times.

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I found it really difficult to decide what I wanted Holmes to do in this situation for all of the reasons mentioned above. To tell her, I think  would have destroyed her, how could she then continue to live with her parents knowing about their deception. Perhaps she would have left, then suffered all the social implications of the time? Not knowing was pretty awful too, subject to a life of despair and loneliness. I think Binker could be right about Conan Doyle 's use of the upheaval of the property act, to make a very pertinent point.

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In this story, Miss Sutherland had received an income from her Uncle Ned in Aukland.  She says that her parents have the use of the money while she lives with them (perhaps not legally, but she says she doesn't want to be a burden), so she earns extra money typewriting.  She doesn't earn enough to live on, but even if that money and the inheritance where enough for her to live on, she would never risk the social ostracism of living away from the "protection" of her family.  She would have been abandoning any ability to marry and be part of the society in which she was raised.  Plus, I doubt she could have done it.  I'm certain that if she tried to take off with it and live on her own, her mother and father would undertake some of the schemes described in the article I've linked to below to get the money back in their control.  So their only real risk would be if she married because then the money would belong to her husband (or possibly to her--the Married Women's Property Act was passed in 1882).  Hence their plot to keep her always waiting for her "one true love."

 

http://www.hastingspress.co.uk/history/19/overview.htm

 

That's really the whole point of The Woman in White (1859) and a big plot point in Fingersmith.  And if you think about it, that's some of the issue with The Speckled Band, which takes place in 1883.  I think there was a lot of upheaval at the time of these stories related to women and their property.  While they were unmarried, their family could use social restrictions to get access to their money.  After marriage, the money could belong to her (from 1883 on).  Before 1883, it belonged to her husband.

 

These stories all take place just before and just after the passage of that law, which is interesting.  I have also noticed in re-reading these all at the same time that Holmes, in particular, seems to value smart, brave, and independent women and is irritated by silly romantic women (which is how I'm afraid Holmes would describe Miss Sutherland).  I wonder if Conan Doyle (or Doyle--I'm never quite sure what to do with his name) was making a political statement with these stories that I never really noticed before.  If so, I think he was pointing out that the old system placed many wonderful women in exceedingly vulnerable positions and it was good that it had been changed. 

Hi Binker,,

 

Was very interested to see your post a few days back especially as I had just started reading Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White.  I am about a quarter of the way through the novel and feel that I am seeing the story rather differently due to your information and comments above.  I think that you are probably right when you stated that Conan Doyle may well have been making a political statement in a number of the stories concerning women this one especially.  Have only three more of the stories to read so will return to them when I have completed The Woman in White.  I agree that Holmes does seem to admire strong resourceful women and have little time for the more shy romantic types more common of the time. 

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Just finished this today - I'm well behind it seems - and I loved it.  One that I have not seen on TV so did not guess at the ending.  I suspect that Holmes did not tell her for a reason which was not stated (the reader to deduce that for themself?})

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