Meet Vesper Holly!
I had never met the daughter of my dear departed colleague, Dr. Benjamin Rittenhouse Holly who, in dying while on an exploratory expedition to the Greek island of Mykonos, had left me executor of his will and guardian of his child. I had vaguely pictured this girl, Vesper, as a small, pallid, retiring little girl.
What I encountered was a tall, sharp-witted, and extremely persuasive young lady with marmalade hair and a penchant for adventures. Why, consider this as an example of her persuasive powers – within a few weeks she had convinced me to set off with her on a wild, mad-cap adventure into the savage wilds of the Illyrian countryside merely to prove that her father’s theories concerning Illyrian mythology were correct – that is to say, that the mythology was not so mythological as one might have hoped. I protested, I reasoned with her, but the daughter of Dr. Holly was not to be dissuaded.
When we arrived in Illyria, it was to find the place swarming with rebels and revolutionaries. But the attempts of several shady creatures to halt our progress by means fair and foul soon convinced me that maybe Vesper was right about the importance of our discovery…
I like Vesper Holly. Plain and simple. I like her – a lot. She’s vivacious and spunky, athletic and assertive, all while also being a scholar, logician, diplomat, and explorer. If I could only choose one word to describe her, it would be the word capable. Her capabilities know no limits. She has the brains and energy to accomplish almost anything.
Her adventures are wild and harrowing. But they are also laced with an acute knowledge of and care for history and civilization. Take this adventure for example – Vesper sets off to prove that her father’s theories regarding a mythological interaction between the two kings who battled over Illyria were true. This theory has a multitude of implications for the current day state of Illyria – which is once again on the verge of civil war between the descendants of these two kings. If Vesper can prove what actually occurred between the two kings, perhaps she can also persuade their heirs to behave with the nobility and maturity that they demonstrated in their dealings with one another.
The story’s still a riot – but it’s a riot with deep undertones. The adventures are wild and wonderful – but still achieve something in the end. Here is an example of the – at times – understated humor.
“By then, we were close to Vitora. Nilo assured us we would have no further trouble. Soon after, he ran the carriage into a ditch. It required all our efforts and much of the afternoon to get it out.” [pg. 43]
This could practically have been written by me.
“I have always considered myself a keen judge of character and have taken a measure of pride in my ability to perceive an individual’s true nature on short acquaintance. Granted, I was wrong in the case of Nilo, Milan, Silcia, Matrona Mira, and Colonel Zalik – but under the circumstances, my mistakes were justifiable.” [pg. 97]
And lastly, the few closing paragraphs of the book.
“In Philadelphia, happily reunited with my dear Mary, with Moggie the cat, my beehives, my unfinished history, and my work on Holly’s papers, I prepared to settle into a life of tranquil industry.
Vesper’s behavior of late has, however, give me cause or uneasiness. I cannor precisely lay my finger on it. She has been plunking her banjo as usual, rummaging in the library, delving into almanacs, and even scanning the newspapers. Harmless occupations individually, taken all together they convey a certain restlessness.
The dear girl, I fear, may be contemplating some alarming, disruptive, perhaps dangerous project. In which case, I would naturally do all in my power to keep her from any such rash or foolhardy enterprise. Unless she wished me to accompany her. [pg. 132]
Conclusion. Fantastic – read my review of The Jedera Adventure for a more complete assessment of Vesper Holly’s character and adventures.
Review © 2015 Laura Verret