Sherlock in Love: A Novel
is a Sherlockian pastiche by Sena Jeter Naslund, which deals with such aspects of Sherlock Holmes
's life as his Stradivarius, his love life, and his eventual fate. It's an atmospheric, gripping tale, and while some Sherlockians reject it outright, others regard it as So Bad, It's Good
The year is 1922. Sherlock Holmes
has been dead for two years, and an enfeebled Dr. Watson
is living his twilight years with his old landlady and her nurse. Watson misses his old friend so much that he decides to write a biography for Holmes and puts a notice in the paper. The responses that he gets drives him to dig an old case back up, that of the unhappy Victor Sigerson.
From there, the narrative goes back and forth between 1922 and 1886, taking quite a bit of Artistic License
with the original canon. Holmes takes violin lessons from Victor Sigerson and is eventually hired to uncover Sigerson's origins. While Watson is inexplicably blind to the fact, Holmes discovers that Victor is actually Violet
, and Holmes's heart is awakened to the possibility of romantic love. Alas, the Great Detective is never said by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
to have been married or even to have had a lover, and in this regard, Naslund stays true to the canon. The Twist Ending
is astonishing and even squicky
for some, and makes the entire story either dreadfully tragic or tragically out-of-character.
The Novella Provides Examples Of:
- Action Girl: Violet turns out to be this - at least, as much as she could realistically get away with it in the Victorian Era.
- Alternate Universe: The story is obviously not intended to be one, but it just as obviously is to any Sherlockian who knows their stuff.
- Ascended Extra: Wiggins, who turns up in 1922 as a consulting psychiatrist.
- Bittersweet Ending: Watson is remarried in the end to a familiar face, but Sherlock is still dead and so is Violet.
- Bonding Over Missing Parents: Sherlock and Violet do this, briefly, over a Missing Mom - unfortunately, we don't get a very clear depiction of that scene because Watson was half-asleep and it was from his Point of View.
- The Cameo: Mycroft.
- Canon Foreigner: Victor (Violet) Sigerson.
- Celibate Hero: Holmes is shown to be this Because Destiny Says So, essentially, not because he wants to be.
- Clothes Make the Legend: More than once, a debilitated Watson mistakes a person for his deceased friend simply because they dress like him - deerstalker and Inverness sometimes included.
- Crossdresser: Violet poses as "Victor" in order to perform in the all-male Munich Opera Orchestra.
- Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: Depending on the reader, Holmes and Violet might have been happier if they'd never found out/figured out the truth about Violet's origins.
- Darker and Edgier: The second half of the book to the first half (which, though mysterious and even sad, is not actually dark).
- Determinator: Holmes - so much so that it's heartbreaking.
- Disney Death/Faking the Dead: Violet.
- Dysfunctional Family: Sherlock's, quite obviously.
- Flanderization: Watson, unfortunately. He has his good - even cute - moments, but his characterization can often be a bit cringe-worthy. Most obviously, when he absolutely fails to realize that Violet is a woman and that Holmes is in love with her (in the past - he figures it out in hindsight).
- Foil: Violet to Sherlock - she's essentially the feminine version of the Great Detective.
- Historical-Domain Character: King Ludwig II of Bavaria. It's an interesting case of No Celebrities Were Harmed, because the novella shows the Mad King's death as it actually happened... barring one character.
- It's Personal: When Holmes goes after Ludwig II because of Violet.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold/Insufferable Genius: "Victor" Sigerson.
- Love Hurts
- Meaningful Name: Violet's surname provides a world of meaning to Holmes's canonical alias during the Great Hiatus.
- Also, the woman named "Nannerl".
- Plus, the title of the novella itself - there is a reason why it is Sherlock in Love, and not Sherlock Holmes or Holmes.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The King of Bohemia is called the King of Bohemia, and the author never attempts to pin his character to an actual historical person.
- Not Quite Dead: Tragically, Holmes never knew (not that the reader is shown, anyway) that Violet had faked her death.
- Not So Stoic: Holmes.
- Only Sane Man: Poor, poor Watson...
- Also "Victor", in Ludwig II's court.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Surprisingly, Sherlock's red to Violet's blue (Sherlock Holmes is typically blue to Watson's red).
- The Reveal: Two of them, actually.
- The first is fairly obvious and takes place in the first half of the story - namely, that "Victor" is actually Violet.
- The second is the Twist Ending, occurring for Holmes in the middle of the story but occurring for Watson and the reader at, you guessed it, the end. Violet turns out to be Sherlock's half-sister, abandoned as an infant by their mother and left to be raised by her father's relatives.
- Parental Abandonment: Violet by both her (unmarried) parents.
- Secret Relationship: Holmes managed to keep most of his feelings for Violet secret from Watson... and Violet most definitely kept hers secret from the Doctor.
- Shout-Out: To A Christmas Carol - "Holmes was dead: to begin with"...
- The Smurfette Principle: Averted, actually, for a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, never mind the title. There are several participating female characters.
- Surprise Incest: Holmes and Violet did not realize their half-sibling relationship until they were already in-love. Violet then tries to end the relationship entirely.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Victor.
- Twist Ending
- Victorian London