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MelindaB

Reading Maketh a Full Man...

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Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

Thrones, Dominations: A Lord Peter Wimsey / Harriet Vane Mystery

Thrones, Dominations - Dorothy L. Sayers, Jill Paton Walsh Dorothy Sayers stopped writing detective fiction in the late 1930's. ("Busman's Honeymoon" was published in 1937) She sketched out the plot for a Lord Peter / Harriet Vane mystery set in the early months of Lord Peter and Harriet's marriage (after "Busman's Honeymoon") but never completed the sketches or the novel. My understanding is that the first 6 chapters have most of the Sayers material in them, but the remaining 15 chapters are written solely by Jill Paton Walsh. This book was published in 1998.Understanding immediately that this book was one that Dorothy Sayers herself never really wrote, I still decided to forge ahead and read it. First off, it is a very poor murder mystery. ***spoiler**** Who will be killed and why is fairly obvious from the start, rather the "Othello / Desdemona" type crime. Even without a badly contrived scene where Harriet reads in the paper about a manslaughter case where a man has attacked his wife in a fit of passion and then accidentally killed her by falling on her, the crime provides little interest because you know what it will be and who will do it almost from the start. Little sleuthing is needed. The secondary crime, an actual murder and not manslaughter, is almost thrown in without much thought. Second, Walsh turns the characters of Lord Peter and Harriet into flat and wooden caricatures. They lack interest as people and act via stilted posturing. The passages that lend extra dimensions are ones that quote most significantly from Dorothy Sayers other Lord Peter books. The love between Lord Peter and Harriet as evidenced in "Busman's Honeymoon" is totally mechanical in this book. It is as though Walsh is writing about something she seems to know nothing about.... an intelligent woman and an intelligent man in love with each other both head (intellect) and heart (emotion). I understand that the literary banter so joyfully demonstrated in "Busman's Honeymoon" would be difficult to recreate. And sadly Walsh does not recreate it. It is as though she is searching for some literary quotes that she can some how throw in here and there. It does not work, alas. Next, Walsh does not understand the relationship between Bunter and Lord Peter, nor indeed the relationship between the servants and the landed gentry. At one point, Bunter is invited by Lord Peter to "get yourself a drink and come help me work on this" as though he is a colleague. YIKES! That is so totally wrong for both the Lord Peter character, and also for the Bunter character. It just would not work that way.My recommendation? If you have read any of the Lord Peter mysteries, don't read this one. It isn't the same Lord Peter, Harriet is a stereotype and not a real woman, the crime is uninteresting, and the sparkle so usual in Sayers books is totally gone.