I became interested in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because of his most well known character, Sherlock Holmes. I was a big fan of the Guy Richie film and decided to read some of the stories to see how close his interpretation of Holmes was to the original and became hooked. (Spoiler: he’s not far off. Also Watson is my ideal literary husband). Recently I decided to see if the magic was confined just to Holmes by checking out one of Doyle’s other novels.
Keen to impress a lady, journalist Edward Malone goes on the hunt for adventure and a juicy story. This leads him to Professor George Edward Challenger, a belligerent naturist who claims to have discovered dinosaurs living in South America. Consequently he is somewhat of a laughing stock and is none to fond of journalists.
Challenger decides to give Malone a chance though and along with a well renowned athlete/adventure called Lord Roxton and Professor Summerlee, one of Challenger’s detractors they set off on an expedition. This leads them to a world of unimaginable wonder as well as great peril, one they’ll be lucky to survive.
There’s no question that Doyle likes larger than life characters as all four of his main characters are as over the top as Holmes is. Malone is the voice of the expedition but the other three are just as easy to picture and enjoy. Their adventure is utterly crazy but the fact that Doyle has clearly done a lot of research makes it a believable fiction even though it’s obviously completely impossible. It’s a bit of a slow start and there is a lot of male bravado and essentially dick waving but once things really got going I couldn’t put it down.
I won’t pretend that I didn’t find some of Doyle’s depictions of POC and women difficult to read but I think it would be hard to find many British novels of the time that are not dated in that way. This is not an excuse but I think it is possible to enjoy the story and just eye roll your way past those bits (or not… it’s up to you).
The Lost World has not bypassed Holmes on my literary list but I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it if you enjoy a bit of an old school adventure novel.