So yes, The Hound of the Baskervilles has been tracked down and identified by the ever-alert Sherlock Holmes with a substantial amount of help from Yours Truly as Dr. Watson, and is available as a full cast recording by clicking to the LibriVox page via the CD cover pictured here.
I found playing Dr. Watson hugely interesting because of his unique position in the story. He is a named narrator, telling his story via reminiscences but also including letters and journal entries set at the time of the events. He’s quite desperate to impress Holmes but doesn’t care about anyone else’s opinion, as you can see from the frank relation of his daft theories and the inane actions he freely admits to. He’s providing a bridge between the reader, who is assumed to be slightly above him in intelligence and ability to draw the right conclusions from evidence presented, and Holmes, who is far above the reader in both those aspects. Watson, by being at the bottom of the heap, keeps the whole story firmly grounded. And by taking that position, he also has the most control. He’s ‘writing’ the story, and can present people as he ‘chooses’. A character may be lionised or demonised, as he sees best, and although in this recording we hear each person’s voice played by a distinct narrator, the dialogue is still filtered through Watson.
The audience-Holmes bridge mirrors the relationship between a narrator and a listener in a way that no other medium can do. Films and TV sometimes seem at a bit of a loss what to do with Watson, because no intermediary is required to explain Holmes to the camera and on to the audience. The audience can generally relate directly to Holmes and interpret his thoughts and actions for themselves, they need much less pre-digestion. There’s a similar situation with theatre and radio plays. And in reading the book, there’s a directness between the words and the reader. But, narrators fill the gap between text and ear, and so this is why narrating Watson is doubly-fun. It’s being very explicit about what I as a voice should be letting the listener know; whereas in most books, I’m speaking for the author in an implicit way.
Assuming you aren’t scared off by the notion of not only a female Watson, but also both Sherlock and Sir Henry being played by ladies, you can download from LibriVox or use the RSS or iTunes links there, stream online at archive.org or sample the first chapter right here. Enjoy![audio:http://archive.org/download/hound_baskervilles_1206_librivox/houndofthebaskervilles_01_doyle.mp3]