Departures can drum up a slew of thoughts.
When Olga first mentioned her big move back to Denver in December, I already knew we would keep in touch. The specifics would reveal themselves in time. But as you know, if you’ve ever moved away from people you’re close to, the physical departure is only the beginning.
Over the years, my sidekick Olga and I have departed on many adventures together. This current departure of hers underlines the departure of mine in getting married. Her forays in the great state of Denver and mine in the great state of matrimony are ones we kind of get to enjoy together… but only to a point.
As best friends do, we share various things in common including a love of the arts and a deep appetite for reading. On a cruise to Greece several years ago, one of its highlights for me was staring out at the Mediterranean and putting a massive dent in Anna Karenina while hers was salsa dance classes poolside…
Years ago, we stumbled upon a book club on Craigslist and for the greater part of a year were actively involved. I found myself enthused to be with other readers but also of the opinion that book club meetings quickly unraveled into social hours with less of a literary bent. Our interesting band of readers included a woman who worked in the fashion industry, one who worked in luxurious travel planning, Olga and me. Along the way we auditioned other interested peoples yet it never quite stuck. My schedule became busy with me a bit flummoxed and so, I departed from the book club.
As 2011 made its grand entrance, I cantered into it with a bee in my bonnet, feeling this to be a year of action, a year of thriving rather than surviving, the mirror opposite to 2010. (Yes, I got married last year and that was the redeeming beautiful emulsifier in a bottle of deep grief. Survival was in order). Among the goals and dreams with action plans set before me, I revisited the idea in 2011 of reading more classics.
At last, I had an idea for a departure that could span a year’s worth of adventures. Simply, Olga and I would round up friend or two and start a classics reading club.
Thus the Classic Great Divide Book Club was born! Now for the players…
Rona quickly came to mind over across the pond in London. Her quick wit and reading speed cannot be matched. Although her index fingers text faster than anyone I have ever met. She is a woman of many skills. And pithy commentary. And hilarity. You get the point. Within a day of agreeing to be in the club, she concocted a list of 140 classics to consider and finished our first book a week later on vacation in Mexico.
Olga, another speed-reader went through a period of watching a slew of “classic” movies. I would arrive to her watching DeNiro on screen behind the wheel of a taxi wondering where she came up with this idea. I’m not sure if Yentl was in the crop of her classic selections, but Barbra as a man alongside the man she loves tore me up when I was younger. This would be on my list of movie classics. Maybe after Citizen Kane. Or not.
Our first book, “The Hound of the Baskervilles” started us on our way. Set in the moors of Devonshire, I could imagine the tors blighting the landscape and adding a mysterious element as the fog rolled in. The sound of a giant hound bellowed over the countryside as the intrepid Sherlock Holmes and his faithful sidekick Dr. Watson endeavored to solve a case of unparalleled curiosity.
Sir Charles Baskerville had died of mysterious means: body found outside in the lane with a dog paw nearby… Legend surrounded the family of a vicious hound from hell that pursued the Baskervilles into death because of lothario Hugo Baskerville. Holmes and Watson investigate with the newly dispatched Sir Henry Baskerville under their protection. Could they protect him from this devil beast? Would they find out what forces brought Sir Charles to his untimely demise?
I relished this book. Sherlock Holmes is a character beloved in the collective mind for his deduction skills as much as the humor in which he delivers his prognostications. He sometimes displays egoiste tendencies but then reveals his affection for Watson aside from their bantering and his funny yet condescending teachings to Watson. The way Conan Doyle wrote these characters, the reader gets a firm grasp of them which I think helps with making them the memorable figures they are. Writing characters that a reader feels connected to and emotionally involved in what happens to them is difficult. You want depth, complexity, intrigue and some difficulty.
During our book club meeting on skype, we all commented how we liked Conan Doyle’s format of telling the story and especially when the chapters transition into Watson sharing letters sent to Holmes with such interesting details. Each of us commented how surprised we were that we’d never stumbled upon reading a Holmes book before and the same intention to read other Conan Doyle renderings of the antics of a certain detective and his best mate. Minus a phosphorous slathering dog that bays at the moon and gallivants over moors with an escaped convict in tow.