The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets — “Enola Holmes Mystery” Series

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Book Review

In The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes dodges her brothers to avoid being sent to finishing school. She locates the missing Dr. Watson by discovering who sent his wife strange bouquets. It is the third book in the “Enola Holmes Mystery” series.

Plot Summary

Enola Holmes knows it’s no coincidence that her name spelled backwards is alone. Her mother is a free-spirited feminist who loves codes and ciphers but never paid much attention to her daughter. When Mum disappeared on Enola’s 14th birthday in The Case of the Missing Marquess, Enola wasn’t surprised to eventually discover Mum left of her own free will.

Enola contacted her much older brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft, for help. When she learned that they planned to send her to finishing school, Enola took a cue from Mum and ran away. She fled to London, where she used various disguises and made herself look older. She opened her own agency to help find lost people. She created an imaginary employer, Dr. Leslie T. Ragostin, and posed as Ivy Meshle, his nondescript assistant.

In The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, Dr. Watson has been mistakenly imprisoned in an insane asylum. Enola is hiding out in London for fear her brothers have discovered her alternate identity. Despite her evasiveness, Enola adores and admires Sherlock. When she learns his assistant has gone missing, she vows to solve the mystery.

Enola visits Mrs. Watson posing as an attractive gentlewoman named Viola Everseau. At the Watson home, Enola notices a strange bouquet presumably sent by a patient. She and her mother are students of flowers and their meanings, so she knows these particular varieties carry ominous symbolism. She traces the bouquet back to a costume shop. The owner, Pertelote, has an insane and disfigured sister, Flora, who sometimes disguises herself as a man and causes trouble.

Enola rents a room across from the shop so she can watch the women. She overhears that Flora was disfigured very young. When Pertelote failed to babysit her effectively, Flora’s face was eaten off by rats. Enola learns Dr. Watson signed off on Flora’s admission to the insane asylum. The sisters almost catch Enola spying on them. She flees and hurts herself in the process.

Enola realizes Flora tricked the asylum staff into capturing Dr. Watson and admitting him under the name of the brother-in-law she murdered. Enola posts a message in the paper for Sherlock, telling him where to rescue Watson. After Watson is free, Sherlock and Mycroft send Enola a note of gratitude in the paper. Enola realizes they haven’t figured out her secret identity as Ivy Meshle, so she’s thrilled to be able to restart her agency.

Christian Beliefs

None.

Other Belief Systems

Enola adopts her mother’s feminist ideologies. She comes to understand Mum’s desire for freedom as she deals with her brothers. Mycroft, as firstborn son, was heir to their father’s money and dictated Mum’s spending. The brothers plan to send Enola to a finishing school and turn her into a lady. She says her brothers view women as illogical, as well as opining that the two of them can’t abide strong-minded females. With this in mind, Enola forgives her mother for leaving because she believes Mum was trying to take care of her by giving her freedom.

Enola calls men “imbeciles” and “fools” and says pretty women turn most of them into “jack-sses.” She makes several mentions of men ogling and following her when she is costumed and made-up to look like a beautiful gentlewoman. She notes how easily husbands in her society can have their wives locked up for insanity, simply because they read novels, quarrel, go to spiritualist meetings or fail to obey. 

Authority Roles

Enola’s free-spirited mother leaves the 14-year-old alone and runs away to pursue an unconventional, nomadic life. Sherlock and Mycroft want to refine Enola by sending her to boarding school. Sherlock shows concern for his sister’s welfare by trying to find her when she runs away. The brothers place a note of appreciation in the paper when Enola finds Dr. Watson.

Profanity & Violence

The Lord’s name is used in vain, and the words h— and -ss appears. A woman recalls being badly disfigured in childhood when rats ate her face off.

Sexual Content

We read references to “painted ladies” and “loose women” a few times.

Discussion Topics

None.

Additional Comments

Drug/Alcohol use: The asylum doctor is a laudanum addict, and most of his nurses are caught in some vice, usually alcohol. Police tell Watson’s wife not to worry when he disappears. They say husbands often come home after a few days of drinking, spending time in opium dens or hanging around with “loose women.”

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