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The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery Paperback – May 15, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–9—Fourteen-year-old Enola Holmes is intelligent, sassy, and a woman before her time, living incognito in Victorian London and working as a Perditorian. She is on the run from her famous older brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, who feel she belongs in a boarding school learning to be a lady. Using various aliases, disguises, and ciphers, Enola is on the case to find the missing teenage daughter of Sir Eustance Austair while trying to elude "capture" by her siblings. She finds herself in the back alleys of London, using her wits to locate the missing Lady Cecily while also trying to keep herself out of mortal peril. Though readers' interest will be piqued by the references to Enola's first adventure, The Case of the Missing Marquess (Philomel, 2006), this title stands alone. Fans of Blue Balliet's Chasing Vermeer (2004) and The Wright 3 (2006, both Scholastic) and Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game (Dutton, 1978) will surely enjoy the suspense and the fresh voice of this young sleuth.—Angela M. Boccuzzi-Reichert, Merton Williams Middle School, Hilton, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In The Missing Marquess (2006), Springer introduced 14-year-old Enola Holmes, Sherlock's younger sister. In this book^B, Enola starts her own detective agency in London, complete with costumes and circumventions to hide her age. When a young lady of privilege goes missing, Enola uses several of her personas to find the girl. The mystery, laced with buzzwords of the time, won't have much resonance for contemporary kids, but Enola is beautifully drawn, as are the sights and sounds of late-nineteenth-century London. A surprise reunion for Enola will touch readers. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1070 (What's this?)
  • Series: An Enola Holmes Mystery
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (May 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142411906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142411902
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


"Conform, go crazy, or become an artist." I have a rubber stamp declaring those words, and they pretty much delineate my life. Conforming was the thing to do when I was raised, in the fifties. Even my mother, who spent her days painting animal portraits at an easel in the corner of the kitchen, tried to conform via housecleaning, bridge parties, and a new outfit every spring. My father, who was born into a British-mannered Protestant family in southern Ireland, emigrated to America as a young man and idolized the "melting pot" because at last he fit in. Once in a rare while he recited "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" or told a tale of a leprechaun, but most of the time he was an earnest naturalized American who expected exemplary behavior of his children. My mother was a charming Pollyanna who would not entertain negative sentiments in herself or anyone around her. As their only girl and the baby of the family, I was coddled, yet hardly ever got a chance to be other than excruciatingly good.

My "conform" phase lasted right into adulthood. When I was thirteen, my parents bought a small motel near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and I spent most of my teen years helping them make beds and clean rooms. I did not date until I went to college -- Gettysburg College, all of seven miles from home. it was the height of the sixties, and I grew my hair long, but eschewed pot, protests, and "happenings." Instead, I married a preacher's son who was himself conforming by studying for the ministry. Within a few years I was Rev. Springer's wife, complete with offspringers, living in a country parsonage in southern York County, PA.

Here beginneth the "go crazy" phase.

Because I had never been allowed any negative emotions, I began to hear "voices" in my head. First they whispered "divorce" (not permissible), and later they hissed "suicide". They scared me silly. I couldn't sleep; images of knives and torture floated in front of my eyes even during the daytime; something roared like an animal inside my ears; my wrists hurt; I saw blood seeping out of the walls; panic jolted me like a cattle goad out of nowhere. Is it necessary to add that I was clinically depressed? The doctor gave me Valium and sent me to a shrink. The shrink took me off the Valium and told me I had a problem with anger. (No duh.) The next doctor zombied me on the numbing antidepressants which were available at that time. The next shrink said I had an adjustment problem. And so on, for several years, during which I somehow managed to stay alive, take care of my kids, handle the vagaries of my husband, sew clothing and grow vegetables to get by financially, cook, can preserves, show up at church, do mounds of laundry and publish "The White Hart" and "The Silver Sun"--yet not one of the doctors of shrinks ever suggested that I might be a strong person, let alone a writer. All of them were intent on "helping" poor little me "adjust" to being a housewife, mother, and pastor's wife.

Eventually I became resigned to the fact (as I perceived it) that I was an evil, sinful person with horrible things going on inside my head, and I stopped trying to fix me. I stopped going to doctors or therapists. Somehow I found courage--or desperation--to stop trying to conform or adjust or live a role.

"I am going to start taking an hour or two first thing in the morning to do my writing," I said to my husband.

"Fine," he said. He had reached the point where he would agree with whatever to humor the neurotic wife; to him it was just another of my brain farts. But to me it was the most important sentence I ever spoke. With that statement I stopped being a housewife who sometimes stole time to write, and I started being a writer.

Conform, go crazy--or become an artist.

By becoming a writer--by becoming who I truly was--I became well.

It was so simple. Although it did take years, of course; it takes a long time for good things to grow. Trees. Books. Me. Odd thing about books; they not only nourish growth but show it happening. In "The Black Beast, The Golden Swan" and many other of my early novels, you can see me dealing with the yang/yin nature of good and evil, struggling to accept my own shadow. In "Chains of Gold" and "The Hex Witch of Seldom" I start writing as a woman, no longer identifying only with male main characters. In a number of children's books I come to terms with my own childhood. And in "Apocalypse"--whoa, what a fierce, dark fantasy novel, the first thing I wrote after my income from writing enabled my husband to leave the ministry. I hadn't thought of myself as repressed when I was a pastor's wife, but obviously something broke loose when I shed that role. "Larque on the Wing"--whoa again, another breakthrough book that spiraled straight out of my muddled middle-aged psyche and took me places I'd never dreamed were in me.

It's been a long time since those days when I thought I was an evil person. I know better now, and I love and trust me even to the extent of writing "Fair Peril"--a more perilous novel than I knew at the time, interfacing all too closely with my life. Written two years before the fact, it foresees my husband's infidelity and my divorce. The most painful irony I've ever faced is that once I gained my selfhood, I lost my lifelong partner. He had supported me through episodes that would have sent most men screaming and running, but once I became well and strong, he transferred his loyalty to a skinny, neurotic waif all to similar to the young woman I once was. After supporting him through twenty-seven years of stinky socks, automotive yearnings, miscellaneous foibles, and the career change that put him where she could cry on his shoulder, I found this a bit hard to take. But I wouldn't go back to being Ms. Pitiful. Not for anything.

Now married to a rather remarkable second husband, after living 46 years in Pennsylvania I moved in 2007 to the Florida panhandle, where I spent a year living in a small apartment above the aforementioned husband's hangar in an exceedingly rural (swamps, egrets, snakes and alligators) airport. Now we have a real house about a mile from the airport on higher ground featuring tremendously tall longleaf pine trees with rattlesnakes and scorpions underneath them. Life is an adventure and I mean that sincerely.


Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. M. Gill on March 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While written for young adults, the Enola Holmes books have a lot to recommend them for readers of any age. This is the second book in the series; I strongly recommend that you read "The Case of the Missing Marquess" first. Nancy Springer has created a smart, brave leading character, while still being true to the spirit of the Conan Doyle stories. When I heard about these books, I rolled my eyes at the idea of Sherlock holmes' younger sister. But Springer does a fine job of making the characters and relationships plausible. I'm looking forward to Book Three!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mel Odom VINE VOICE on December 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Enola Holmes is back in her second adventure, and this time she's in the heart of London. While she's prowling the dark streets and dangerous alleys of 19th century England, she's also being hunted by her brother Sherlock Holmes. Nancy Springer has created an excellent series for young readers as well as Holmes aficionados. Two other books have already been published since this one, and a fifth is waiting in the wings.

However, I can't help but grin just a little at the thought of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sitting down to read one of Springer's books. I wonder what his reaction would be. Everyone knows Doyle had a love/hate relationship with his most famous character because he wanted to write more historical (for the time) romances of knights and adventure. Unfortunately for him, but not for the world, Sherlock Holmes resisted even death and came back again and again.

In the medieval romances Doyle wanted to write, women still remained as objects of affection and were helpless to save themselves. That's not what Enola Holmes is all about. She is a plucky and self-sufficient heroine that today's youth will readily embrace. I can't help but wonder if Doyle would be less enthusiastic over Enola's relationship to his Great Detective and her contribution to the ongoing mythos, or to the fact she is female. Either way, Springer has delivered an original character and world steeped in history, social contradictions, and breakneck adventure.

Enola has successfully set herself up under another name as a secretary to a Perditorian (a finder of persons and things, quite similar to Sherlock Holmes). Interestingly enough, Enola becomes quite sympathetic about the disappearance of young Lady Cecily. This case is one of the few that Sherlock Holmes has turned down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Natalie Dawn on February 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really like the first book in this series so naturally I bought the second. I liked the first one better but this book was still worth the read. Like a previous reader stated, Enola is an interesting character who's fun to spend a couple of hours with. Some of the content is a bit mature of younger readers, and I wouldn't recommend it for sensitive children under the age of 12, but otherwise it's a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on January 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Pitched at a reading level considerably higher than the justifiably famous Nancy Drew series, "The Case of the Left-Handed Lady" continues the adventures of Enola Holmes, the hitherto unknown, late-arriving younger sister of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, who was introduced so capably in "The Case of the Missing Marquess".

A budding young feminist, intelligent far beyond her tender age of only fourteen years, Enola Holmes is living incognito in London, hiding from her brilliant brothers for fear that they would force her into the stultifying life of a Victorian boarding school for young ladies. Sherlock and Mycroft are portrayed as typical 19th century men in their attitude toward women and whatever intellect they may possess. That is to say, they are at least patronizing and chauvinist and perhaps, in Mycroft's case, downright misogynist.

Despite being of independent means with the financial resources that her mother provided in "The Case of the Missing Marquess", Enola has decided that she will live her life as a "perditorian", a "finder of lost things". In "The Case of the Left-Handed Lady", Enola tackles the disappearance of young Lady Cecily Alistair. Because there is reason to believe that the missing teenage daughter of Lord Alistair may have quite improperly eloped with a young man below her station, the potentially scandalous news of her disappearance has been carefully kept out of the London news media of the day. Using her intelligence and the unique feminine perspective that would completely elude the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard, Enola's investigation leads her to dismiss the possibility of elopement. She is now searching for an abductor and hopes she will find young Lady Cecily before she comes to any harm.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Williams on April 27, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I listened to the audio version and was completely impressed with the production! I had been picky about Katherine Kellgren's narration in the first installment of this series, criticizing that her voices were good, but that many sounded similar. I had no such concerns with this book and felt Kellgren captured each character almost perfectly! :)

I also had criticized the lack of "finality" and "conclusion" of the first installment's story, but thankfully this book picks up shortly after the finale to of the first and answered many of the issues I'd had with book 1.

I thought the mystery of "Left-Handed Lady" was much more fleshed out than the mystery of the first book, and was very pleased about that (finding myself surprised on numerous occasions). However, when the book was over I realized that there really hadn't been any character development in this book that hadn't already occurred in the first book.

But, I do really enjoy Springer's narrative, and her attention to detail (which seemed less cumbersome here... or perhaps I was just more used to it ;> )

Overall, definitely recommended, especially if you enjoyed the first book, and I am curious to see how the series progresses.
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