The Progress of Sherlock Holmes
TIME: 7 hours 45 minutes
STORY TEXT: http://archiveofourown.org/works/173274/chapters/253157
At over seven hours this fanfic is not for faint of heart or the casual Sherlockian, however it is perfect for a long day of solitary housework. I must warn you, however, that at some scenes you will want to just close your eyes and listen because the images are particularly intense and evocative, especially if you are as much of a fan of the John / Sherlock pairing as I am.
Sherlock Holmes is in love with his flatmate, John Watson, unfortunately he is unable to express his feelings. John Watson appears to like him, but his mixed messages are hard for Sherlock to understand, and then Mary Morstan walks into John's life.
The reader, cellardoorpodfic, has a pleasant voice that is not annoying to listen to which is important in a story of this length. She makes distinct, recognizable voices for John, Mary, Mycroft, Sherlock, and Sherlock's thoughts that make it possible to understand Sherlock's story.
The podfic has a foreword by the author, ivyblossom, that discusses the narrative structure, first person present tense. We only see things from Sherlock's perspective. We may infer what others feel, but we don't know for sure what they are thinking.
This work has a soothing, lyrical quality. Sherlock is a strange person with strange thoughts, but the author makes us comfortable in his head. This Sherlock thinks about John a lot. John also often thinks of Sherlock, but his intentions are unclear to Sherlock. They dance around each other for what may be months or years not talking and not understanding each other. In a way, the story evokes a bit of the Victorian quality of the original, because there are so many things that they cannot or will not say.
Mary is a flawed woman with philandering ways. She is so good at hiding her emotions that most of the time Sherlock cannot read her. John tries to lead his own life, but he is unable to stop working with Sherlock for long before his limp reappears. Mrs Hudson is a jewel, seeing to the heart of the story, when most of the other characters are blind to their own and other's emotions.
If there is a villain to the piece, then it is Mycroft Holmes who interferes too closely in his brother's affairs. If we assume that he treats all of Sherlock's acquaintances the same as he did to John Watson when he first met Sherlock, then we might get a glimpse into why Sherlock has no friends, and why he hates his brother so much.
This work is rated mature for graphic sex scenes, however they do not take up most of the work which consists of bits of interesting cases, texts, flirting, and lots of suggestive and sensual touching followed by Sherlock's ever unsure interpretations.
The sense of loss and longing in the story is palpable, for Sherlock (our viewpoint character) but also for John who wears his heart on his sleeve. John is trapped between his desire to live with his wife, and his almost physical need to be with Sherlock.
Mary is a complication that makes a successful romantic resolution difficult, and when the resolution does come, it is not without it's share of discomfort. We get the feeling that Sherlock Holmes is a very misunderstood man doing his best to interact with people although he is horribly repressed and unable to communicate his true feelings to others. Perhaps it is only that no one has ever listened closely enough before.
Overall, the story is worth the listen if only for those moments when John and Sherlock finally begin to realize that each of them truly do have feelings for each other that go beyond friendship. The sex scenes are good too.
For the most part, the other characters fade into shadows. John and Sherlock think almost constantly about each other to the exclusion of all else. The fact that they can't see what's in front of their eyes is sad. Then again, this is what makes the conclusion more satisfying. Even so, one is left with a sense of regret, if only they had communicated a bit better a few years earlier, then we could have missed all of this angst.
The plot is what the title says. The progress of Sherlock Holmes as he goes from totally sexually repressed and uncommunicative to sexually active and slightly more emotionally open. Other than that, the days are fairly repetitive for Sherlock, (case, no case, case, no case). We never are given a complete case to investigate. Mostly Sherlock just looks at things and deduces with John there to say "Amazing!" The only thing that gives a sense of time to Sherlock's existence is John and his relationship with Mary. John is the timepiece for the work. The clock on which Sherlock's life runs, and this more than anything tells us that there is only one satisfying resolution to this work.
If I have any criticisms of the work, it would be in the obviousness of making Mary so flawed. It seemed like her faults were paraded by us just so that we would not pity her so much when John's affections turned to Sherlock. Mycroft was surprisingly noteworthy because he ended up being such a shit. They explained his viewpoint in the end, but even so, I just didn't like him. Also, his ability to control Sherlock with petty, though very expensive, bribes made Sherlock come off as a bit too juvenile and materialistic in my opinion. Despite these minor faults, overall I consider this story an excellent work, and a very well executed podfic.
My rankings (0 yuck to 5 WoW!)
Romance: good 4
Hotness: good 3.5
Mood: excellent 4.5
Case Quality: fair, interesting 2.5
Overall: 4 ( out of 5)