As a gay man and a fan of the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I was intrigued to know what a queer insight might bring to Sherlock Holmes. I was enthralled by the depiction of Sherlock Holmes as a woman, in appearance and in her characterisation. The character worked and was believable. It was also easy to be convinced how Watson as a gay man would have found her alluring and why he fell in love with her. The evolving dynamic of the Holmes and Watson relationship is superbly depicted. Nothing jarred. The story is true to the genre despite the liberties with gender and orientation.
Irene Adler is treated as an opaque and mysterious character. She is less than a character in her own right as a cipher and plot development device.
I have read some of the better translations of the poetry of Sappho. I studied Attic Greek but this does not help with reading Sappho in the original dialect. Sappho speaks to and resonates with the essential female emotion and beauty. But her work can still be appreciated by men. It is pure, emotionally truthful, intense and sublime. One can understand that Watson would have assumed, as a result, that Holmes would be inaccessible to him.
There are hints, subtle hints, of glove, boot and leather fetish is artfully done and nicely woven into the plot. I could see these references as appealing to those without these specific fetish interests.
The BDSM dimension is strongly suggested but not explicit and not in any way detailed.
In a sense, Holmes and Watson are almost destined for each other. Each is a foil to the other. They are complimentary.
The story, as would be expected, is largely from the perspective of Watson.
This book, this novella, is a real gem. It convincingly shows how a loving relationship can transcend sexual orientation and how gender roles need not be prescriptive or definitional.
There is an erotic energy in this novella but it is not pornographic, exploitative or voyeuristic. Watson is appealingly depicted and is perhaps almost too idealised in his kindness, warmth, empathy and shyness. It is obvious that he is fondly considered by the author, who presents him as a noble, decent and warm hearted person. One might even speculate that he is perhaps a personification of the author, a perceptive, sensyitve, thoughtful and intuitive person.
I consider this novella to be a love story and a love story which evolves through a detective mystery.
It seems to me that this Holmes and Watson relationship and adventures in the special clubs in London deserves many sequels. The Victorians were both socially repressed and individually libidinous. There is a lot of material here to explore, as Sarah Waters as shown.
I should mention that I had a great grandaunt who was a woman loving woman in London and Paris. She knew many of the more prominent lesbians in London and Paris. Her diaries are extraordinary. Perhaps, some day they may be published.
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