Nancy Springer’s latest Enola Holmes mystery, The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye (2010), brings the six-book series to a satisfactory conclusion while also leaving the door open for additional stories. I read it as part of the YA Reading Challenge, but I don’t want to say too much about this book — I don’t want to ruin it for people who haven’t read the first five — so I decided to talk about Enola more generally instead.
Enola, which is “alone” spelled backwards, is the younger sister of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. On her fourteenth birthday, which begins the first book, her mother disappears, and she realizes that Mycroft and Sherlock, who’ve had absolutely no presence in her life, are now responsible for her. Their wild, free-thinking suffragist mother has raised her in much the same way, and Enola has no intention of allowing them to send her to… god forbid… finishing school. She won’t wear a corset, wants a classical education, and can’t stand the thought of Mycroft ruling her life.
So Enola takes off for London, and she lives up to her name by living on her own for the rest of the series. She sets up her own agency, masquerading as the assistant to Dr. Leslie T. Ragostin, Scientific Perditorian, and becomes not only a master of disguise but also a capable detective who not only helps find things and people that are lost, but also eludes the most famous detective of all time, her own brother. She’s brave, smart, and quick-thinking; she learns to navigate London and survives a number of scary scrapes while having a little fun at her brothers’ expense; and she never stops trying to find her mother.
Gypsy Good-bye ends on Enola’s 15th birthday, and although it’s not an entirely happy day, it’s been a privilege to follow a year of this engaging character’s life.
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