He has been called a genius and a fraud, a hero and an addict. He advised kings in their glittering palaces, then disappeared into the darkest alleys of London's criminal underworld. He was (and remains) a global icon, but he could pass his most ardent fan on the street without a flicker of recognition. Who was this Sherlock Holmes? With an attention to detail that would make his subject envious, Nick Rennison gathers the clues of a life lived among the stars of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, from Oscar Wilde to Sigmund Freud, and uncovers startling, previously unknown information. How did a Cambridge drop-out and bit player on the London stage transform himself into a renowned "consulting detective"? Did he know the identity of "Jack the Ripper"? When did Holmes and his nemesis Professor Moriarty first cross paths? To where did Sherlock Holmes disappear after his presumed "death" in 1891? Sherlock Holmes answers these questions and many more as it careens through the most infamous crimes and historic events of the era, all in pursuit of the real man behind the greatest detective in modern fiction--and, just perhaps, non-fiction.
Wary '80s feminism observer Weldon (The Fat Woman's Joke) turns her sharp eye to the desperate neediness of two-career London parents seeking child care. Early 30-ish Hattie, a literary-rights agent, and lefty journalist Martyn are partners, rather than husband and wife. For their infant, Kitty, they procure competent young Pole Agnieszka Wyszynska who effects a glorious, unprecedented order in their household, thus allowing Hattie to return to work and the couple to enjoy real food and sex once in a while. It's Hattie's grandmother, Frances, however, who narrates, and Frances suspects Agnieszka isn't quite what she seems. If the au pair really is Ukrainian rather than Polish, she's not an EU cardholder and thus not legal to work. The solution of having Martyn marry Agnieszka makes Frances, who has emerged from the swinging '60s bearing her share of battle scars, raise her eyebrows. Weldon also adds great aunt Serena, a successful novelist, to the chorus; she has her own child-rearing, marriage and career stories. The results hit very close to the working literary family's bone. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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April 10, 2007
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