Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Firm of Girdlestone || A Review

All right listen up, BBC.  No more Jane Austen or Charles Dickens adaptations, the next mini series you should make is The Firm of Girdlestone by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!

Do you think that will work? 

I don't know what's up with me, but it looks like I'm going to do another book review!  I never thought I'd be much good at them, but "The Beatles, God, and The Bible" was fun to write, so why not give it another go?  Especially since it's a book I've just finished, and absolutely adore.

When I found this book at an antique store in Michigan, it's cover grabbed my attention and then I saw the author.  I've read the complete Sherlock Holmes stories, so I thought it would be interesting to read something else by the author who created such an iconic character.

The story is about John Girdlestone and his son, Ezra who have quite a dreadful problem.  Their merchant firm is rapidly descending into financial ruin and if they don't do something to prevent it, the proud name of Girdlestone will be forever disgraced.
 One of their schemes to restore stability to their firm includes Kate Harston, the Girdlestone's ward after the unfortunate death of her father.  On the occasion of her 21st birthday, she will inherit her father's fortune.  If only there was a way for that money to come to the Girdlestones instead...

The story is filled with a fun, varied cast.  Besides John, Ezra, and Kate, there's Captain Miggs, Major Tobias Clutterbuck, and the Dimsdale family.
 Tom Dimsdale is Kate's lovable childhood friend who isn't sure if following his father's profession as a doctor is for him.  He does know, however, that Kate is the girl he wants to marry, no matter what the Girdlestones do to seperate them.
Even minor characters having memorable and interesting personalities, like the unnamed sailor Tom meets who likes to collect long words, and making up ones of his own.

The plot is exciting, escalating to a tense climax, which I dare not say too much about and give away spoilers.

The writing...the writing is just charming.  Though it may seem wordy and rambling compared to today's standard, each sentence creates a perfectly described picture in your mind, using every word to its fullest potential.

For an example, here's a favorite part where some of the characters are at a party.

"There was Mr. Smith, of the Gresham Insurance, rotating round with Miss Clara Timms, their faces wearing that pained and anxious expression which the British countenance naturally assumes when dancing, giving the impression that the legs have suddenly burst forth in a festive mood and have dragged the rest of the body into it very much against its will."

If I wrote a sentence that long, Becca would make me do some editing, but can't you just picture that?
So very British. :)

And there's another part I have to share, but for a different reason.

"Please sir," said the girl, with a bob, "I'm Sarah Jane."
"Are you, indeed," said the doctor, with mild irony. "And what d'ye want here, Sarah Jane?"

The doctor, here, is Tom's father, Dr. Dimsdale, but of course I immediately thought of these two:

I found this quote, supposedly by Doyle:

"If in 100 years I am only known as the man who invented Sherlock Holmes then I will have considered my life a failure."

There actually isn't any proof that he said that, but you can't help thinking that might be a bit how he felt.  I had never heard of any of his other books until lately, but I am so glad I found The Firm of Girdlestone.  I loved getting to know these other characters he created, knowing nothing about them beforehand.  I had no idea what to expect, unlike reading about Sherlock Holmes, and it was very enjoyable.

So, find yourself a copy, and help spread the word that this book would make an wonderful period drama (with much emphasis on drama).

Becca and I even have the perfect Tom picked out.



  1. That sounds like a fun book!!! I have a few of his other books :)

  2. I'm going to have to look for this book at our next library's sale! It sounds like it would make an awesome movie or series too!

    the Middle Sister and Singer

  3. Oh man, I'm so behind on commenting! Anyway, great review! Now I really want to read this book! And I could not believe the Doctor/Sarah Jane line. Haha, wow, that's incredible.


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