I looked up from my book a little disoriented for a moment as the bus pulled out of the tunnel and the sun hit the side of my face. I had been deeply engrossed – so much so that I felt a little lost as I was pulled back to reality. A moment before, I had been in England circa 1920, curled up in a chair in the Greene Library at Justice Hall reading a book by a fire with Mary Russell in the chair across from me. The November rain had been pelting the window and the faint smell of rosemary was in the air. Suddenly, I was on a bus in Seattle one stop away from where I needed to get off on a sunny April afternoon in 2016.
As I stepped off the bus, I smiled at myself, I had become so lost while reading that I was completely immersed in the setting and plot. It doesn’t happen to me very often anymore. One of greatest gifts a book can give is to draw you in so deeply that the present fades and you step into another world.
When I was growing up books did that for me a lot. I wandered through Avonlea with Anne, through the fields of New Moon Farm with Emily, along the paths of 1800’s New England with Lousia May Alcott’s characters and I stood shoulder to shoulder with Jane Eyre at Lowood School and Thornfield Hall. I rode the wagon across the Great Plains with Mary and Laura and trailed Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson through London and the English countryside. The Hound of the Baskervilles still makes me shiver when I think about the first time I read it.
I have always like Holmes – first in book form and later in movies and T.V. series. I love Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Robert Downey, Jr. and, most of all, Benedict Cumberbatch as the great detective. For a time, I attended The Sound of the Baskervilles club that read a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story each month and then met to discuss it. I also have enjoyed books by other writers that borrow Sherlock Holmes as a character – especially the children’s series about a mouse detective that lives at 221B Baker Street and studies Sherlock’s methods to solve crimes in the mouse world. (See Basil of Baker Street)
Then I went off to college and traded reading for pleasure for reading to learn to such an extent that I lost my taste for reading almost altogether for quite a while. I still read for the fun of it but less and less. I had a busy and demanding job and I was often too tired to concentrate on a book. Occasionally, I still read something that completely immersed me. Memoirs of a Geisha and the Harry Potter series come to mind at the moment but it became a rarer occurrence with each book I read. Eventually, I joined a book group to keep me reading and to stretch myself to read things I might not otherwise consider.
Then my dad and my friend, Dawna, both highly recommended the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie King. It took me a couple of years before I finally picked up the audio book of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice at the library. It is the first book in the series. I have now buzzsawed my way through six of the books and I am reading a seventh Justice Hall. It was this book, for the first time in longer than I can remember, where I once again left reality and stepped so completely into the story that I was lost in a good book.