On Thursday, October 10, 2013, the Fixed on Fiction book group met to discuss Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. Below are some of the comments made during our meeting.
Prior to discussing Hound, members shared some of the titles that they are reading outside of book club selections:
The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Moving on to Hound, we were delighted to discover that all group members liked, if not thoroughly enjoyed, this title. As we are a group of diverse readers, we often have a few members who find a title here and there to be a so-so read. So the fact that Hound was a resounding winner in our group was a very pleasant surprise.
We began our discussion by sharing our own personal histories with Sherlock Holmes. While some group members had never read Doyle’s work, everyone had at least seen a film or TV variation of the Sherlock stories. There were some group members who were very familiar with Doyle’s literary works and reminisced over reading Sherlock throughout high school and college. These Doyle fans mentioned that revisiting Hound years later was an enjoyable experience.
When discussing what we loved about this novel, many readers mentioned an appreciation for the heavy descriptions of scenery. One member stated that the moors almost became a character in the story as its eerie appearance played such a huge part in setting the tone. We compared this emphasis on landscape to titles like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, which led to a conversation regarding many members’ love of literature from the Victorian Era.
When asked how they felt about Watson narrating this spooky tale, most readers enjoyed hearing the story through Watson’s point of view rather than Holmes’. Some members stated that Holmes would be a terrible narrator as he is far too fast and intense when he speaks. In fact, one reader jokingly mentioned that Holmes would be somewhat insulting as a narrator because he would more than likely insult our intelligence and criticize our ability to keep up with his train of thought. When asked if they were disappointed that Sherlock was missing from most of the story, one member pointed out that he was there the entire time…we just didn’t know it. Touche.
When discussing favorite moments from the novel, one reader described Sherlock’s big reveal as the mysterious figure on the moor as particularly memorable. This led to a discussion of how we admired Doyle’s ability to write a haunting tale that still contained moments of comedic relief, due largely in part to Sherlock’s quirkiness. Additionally, one group member enjoyed the very beginning of the story. Witnessing Holmes and Watson’s conversation about the mysterious walking stick provided readers with a bit of a “crash course” in these two characters’ personalities, making it easy for new Doyle readers to start reading mid-series.
Lastly, most readers seemed satisfied with the ending. When arguing whether or not Stapleton’s identity swap was believable, we discussed how easy it would be to “disappear” in the late 1800s, unlike today where we are very much on the grid. Also, most readers found Stapleton’s presumed death to be a satisfactory ending. It seemed darkly fitting that he should drown in the moors when he so arrogantly boasted that he was the only person who could travel through them safely.
Don’t forget…the Just Between Frames Film Discussion Group will be showing the Hound episode of the BBC Sherlock series on Thursday, November 7th, at 6:30 p.m. in Meeting Room B!