Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lord Peter Wimsey read-athon

I am deep into it with Lord Peter Wimsey. For those of you who don't know, Wimsey is a well off  younger brother of the Duke of Denver, financially secure, curiously quirky and a brilliant crime solver.Created by Dorothy Sayers, master wordsmith, devoted Christian intellectual and quick wit each mystery is fun, fun, fun. Sayers captures the culture of the era beautifully (the 32 murder mysteries take place between 1921 and 1941 in England), creating settings and scenes that evoke a by-gone era. Her characters are rich, real and intriguing. Her plots compelling. Dorothy L. Sayers is recognized as one of the greatest mystery writers of the 20th century and it's no wonder. The mystery is just the dish on which she serves up faith, intellect and breathtakingly beautiful word crafting.
 
I've read 4 in the past several days. They are just that good (plus we took a road trip, so I had lots of good reading time).

The best by far was The 9 Tailors. This is one of the most exquisite books I've ever read. The setting is Fenland in northern Anglia, the plot surrounds a mystery turned murder and the support staff includes a bevy of bells. The book is an unusual look at the world of campanology, or "Change Ringing" - which is the art of ringing a set of tuned bells in a series of mathematical patterns called "changes". The theme is justice. And while the book doesn't focus so much on Lord Peter as on the plot, I found it delightful. Sayers is a master of her craft and some of her paragraphs were breath takingly beautiful.

I finished the book on the way home from Chicago, after a difficult visit with my Grandma and the ending of this book caught me by the throat. I was actually crying for Will, tearful as I described the plot to Feeche and KB and tearful at the harsh judgement dealt by Sayers towards both criminal and faithful husband.

This was so totally me:
Pinned Image
From weheartit
Sometimes it's easier to cry over people who aren't real than the very real ones who hold our hearts in their hands and the difficult circumstances we are faced with, eh?

Strong Poison was the first book I read. It's an interesting look at women's issues and social reform in the last century.

Next up was The Unpleasantness at the Bellanona Club. What I'm loving about these books is how Sayers captures the time and place so beautifully- much like Austen. This book is about a Men's Club in stalwart England, good old military boys and how greed will make people do and say the craziest things.

Unnatural Death- isanother greed as motive plot. Miss. Climpson and Mr. Murble show up to assist Parker and Wimsey as they work to formulate a case, knowing who the murderer is, that will stand up in court.

The strength of these tales is in the command of language that Sayers exhibits; it is full of tropes, thousand dollar words and Latin. Her ability to write dialog; by turns funny, surprising and thought provoking. I have another book in hand, Whose Body, and I'm looking forward to another delightful couple of hours with my new favorite author, Sayers, and the beguiling Lord Peter.

3 comments:

Jean said...

I love Dorothy Sayers. Love love love. Nine Tailors is a favorite--I do love the Fens setting and all the people. Just wait till you get to Gaudy Night!

Faith said...

I went through a Lord Peter phase. The Nine Tailors was my all time favorite. I found I didn't care for the ones with Harriet in them quite so well. Have you seen the two different BBC adaptions? They did an excellent job, especially with 9 Tailors.

Robin McCormack said...

You've sold me. Going to pull her book out of the shelves. Have a 3 in one with Strong Poison. Think I'll appreciate her writing a bit more now.