Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer

Springer, Nancy. The Case of the Missing Marquess. New York: Sleuth Philomel, 2006.

On her 14th birthday, Enola's mother goes missing. Enola searches their estate grounds in vain. She has no choice but to send for her much older brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. (Yes, that Sherlock. As in Holmes.) The brothers soon realize that their mother has been hoodwinking money out of them to make just such an escape. Once Mycroft informs Enola that she will be going to boarding school to become a proper young lady, Enola understands how her mother felt. Enola has no rights except the ones her brother chooses to give her. She sees no alternative but to follow in her mother's footsteps. She will run away. With the aid of the cipher book her mother made for her on her birthday, Enola discovers several stashes of money, enough to make her independent for a time. She plots her escape with great intelligence. She will disguise herself as a widow. Surely no one would suspect that respectable widow is really a 14 year old girl. Enola's escape doesn't go as smoothly as she hoped. She's soon in the midst of a kidnapping and kidnapped herself. Can she get out of this mess? Will she successfully allude her brothers to be independent?

What I thought: Wow! Springer has gave life to a strong heroine. No obstacle seems too great for Enola. Enola's cunning in disguising herself shows that she shares more than looks with her famous detective brother. I can't say that I blame her for running away. Laws in the 19th century effectively made women prisoners of their husbands, sons, brothers, or other male relatives. Mycroft wouldn't listen to Enola for 1 reason--she's a girl. He, like most of his contemporaries, doubt that women are intelligent. I take gleefully amusement in his misconception of Enola. I am eager to read about her further adventures.

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