Does anyone want to chat about Dorothy L Sayers' books with me?

(173 Posts)

From a feministy perspective, I mean. I've just recently got into them so haven't read that many, but things keep striking me. Not just Sayers herself having a feminist perspective (though she obviously does), but also details about the time period I wouldn't have known about.

The thing that made me smile most recently was in Gaudy Night, she has a conversation between Harriet Vane and one of the dons at her fictional Oxford college, who observe that the women undergraduates have a bad habit of sunbathing in their underwear and really, this is unfair ('not on the [male] undergraduates - they're used to it') on the male dons who might wander through the quad and see them.

It just struck me that it's such a different image from the rather buttoned-up idea of attitudes towards women's bodies I'd expect from that time.

What does anyone else think?

And what do you think of Jill Paton Walsh finishing of Sayers' last unfinished draft and writing continuations? Is it a travesty, or is this the kind of collaboration that feminism ought to be supporting? There being that argument that the 'lone genius author' is a concept that's always associated more with men than with women.

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 02-Jun-13 18:56:36

I've read probably all of the Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane books and I like them all, apart from a slightly queasy feeling that the author herself was a bit too in love with Peter Wimsey, which came across most, I think, in Gaudy Night. (That is a bit of a long sentence but hopefully not too garbled!) I think Gaudy Night is my favourite. I haven't thought about them very systematically, but here goes:

The dons are/were probably not quite representative of what the general attitude was towards women. They were a ruthlessly logical bunch (I love them!) and were not shy in discussing anything and were seemingly quite confronting of their own views too. (There was a scene where they discussed shirt fronts which made me laugh ... ) I also like the conversation between Peter Wimsey and one of the dons about his opinion on women's education and he said that it should not be a question and "you should not imply that I have any right either to approve or disapprove".

I read one of Jill Paton Walsh completion - can't remember which and can't remember if there is more than one - but didn't like it much. I think I'd probably like it if it wasn't a continuation of PW and HV, but as it is it was too easy to read, and Sayers never made anything easy ... hmm

Oh, I'm sure you are right about the dons. I just liked that she could write them like that, at that time. I agree with you that she obviously loved Peter. I also think occasionally, hmm, really? to the more obviously 'isn't he a great feminist' bits.

I come at the Paton Walsh stuff having loved her books first, you see, so was curious.

The Paton Walsh books pass the time but are basicaly fan fic and that's all. Paton Walsh's 'voice' is quite different from DLS.

GAudy Night caused a major rift with DLS and Somerville. The college was not happy with it's portrayal.

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 02-Jun-13 19:16:59

I didn't know about DLS and Somerville. What were they unhappy about?

I think it's true that PW is too much of an obvious feminist. grin But I still like it. Perhaps it was a bit of wish-fulfilment? I think the thing that appeals to me is the search for intellectual equality in a fucked-up world (OK, so DLS would never put it like that ...) Maybe it reminds me of my younger, more stuck-up (grin) days when I could not see much such equality in the relationships surrounding me...

Well, I've not read enough Sayers, but I think I agree.

I didn't know that about Somerville either. Seems a pity - there's a really lenghty disclaimer in my copy of Gaudy Night about how it's not based on real people or places, and I wonder if that was put in after the rift?

Btw - random trivia - but I noticed that the chestnut tree she mentions growing in Lamb and Flag passage is still there, 80-odd years on.

I think something I do notice about the dons is how un-intellectual a couple of them are. The way Harriet, who has been off writing detective fiction, suddenly slides back in as a quasi-don researching her own book, is a bit suspect. So I suppose I can see that Somerville dons might have felt a bit 'oi!' about that.

I do love the wedding from the college with the dons as bridesmaids, though.

CaptChaos United States Sun 02-Jun-13 19:42:34

Perhaps because it is set between the wars, which would place the dons in question as having been born and brought up, and therefore received their moral education during, the late Victorian era, when women were covered from head to toe, table legs allegedly wore little trousers etc etc. After the Great War, women's dress was more relaxed for the younger set, swimwear became less of a joke etc.

I haven't read the books, always meant to but haven't, so I can't comment specifically, but that might put the don's view that the young women lounging about in their underwear was shocking into some context? Although, I realise that I'm no doubt telling you what you already know.

I ^think SOmerville were unhappy with the portrayal of the SCR - suspecting each other and nevertheless more than a little smug?

scallopsrgreat Sun 02-Jun-13 19:55:30

I don't think I have read any Sayers but already this thread is making me want to! Off to kindle myself up so any recommendations for my first buy would be great grin

Oh, do read her!

I really enjoyed what I've read so far. I haven't read them in order, though, so probably someone else can recommend better than me.

capt - mmm, I don't think so from the way she says it. I think the implication is that the dons are pretty permissive and only drawing the line at people sunbathing in underwear? I mean, when I went to university in 2003, no fucking way would you have been allowed to strip off and lie on the lawn.

northern - ah, ok, I see.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 02-Jun-13 19:59:48

DLS collaborated on the play of Busman's Honeymoon and the book of The Documents in the Case.

I like "Thrones, Dominations" but the second "collaboration" was really a JPW only effort and "The Attenbury Emeralds" is completely JPW. The tone is very different but it would be difficult for it not to be that way, I think. Peter and Harriet just don't come so much to life with JPW, and I think she definitely prefers writing Harriet.

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 02-Jun-13 20:00:56

Strong Poison, I think, is the first Harriet Vane one. Actually that one is very interesting too from the feminist perspective. LRD have you read that one?

There are other donnish detective novels. For example, Michael Inns' Death at the President's Lodge (and may be The Weight of the Evidence - sorry, I am a fan ...) was not entirely complementary to the fictitious Oxford college of St Anthony (I think). I wonder if there was an outcry about that. Perhaps the suspicion of a group of women "cloistered together", being "sexually repressed" etc was a bit too much for Sommerville?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 02-Jun-13 20:01:42

I would read them in order, but I'm like that grin

I actually think "Whose Body?" is pretty strong, which is the first one.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 02-Jun-13 20:03:26

LordCopper, I love that quote about approving not being a question too.

SconeRhymesWithGone United States Sun 02-Jun-13 20:04:08

I read the entire Sayers canon years ago and especially loved "Gaudy Night." I have not read any of Jill Paton Walsh, and likely won't, just as I won't read any of the Jane Austen fan fiction.

I don't feel qualified to comment further yet because it has been so long ago, but this thread has just caused me to download it to my Kindle; I am going on a mini-holiday on my own for a few days; it will be perfect for that.

I also remember seeing the BBC adaptation years ago with Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane. I remember thinking she was perfect for the role.

scallopsrgreat Sun 02-Jun-13 20:05:19

Strong Poison it is then. Good a place as any to start at the beginning!

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 02-Jun-13 20:05:56

Talking about Jane Austen fan fiction, I really didn't like Death Comes to Pemberley. << End of slight diversion. >>

I've read Gaudy Night, Have His Carcase, Busman's Holiday and A Presumption of Death (which is JPW). Wrong order I know, but I was picking them up in charity shops.

I might order Whose Body on amazon though, sounds good.

scallopsrgreat Sun 02-Jun-13 20:07:19

Oh sorry Doctrine I missed your post. I'll get Whose Body too. I'm off on holiday soon so hopefully will have some time to read!

Ooh, yes ... Harriet Walter would be perfect.

That is another thing I like - Harriet isn't gorgeous or even especially attractive, but she a) doesn't seem to mind and b) does still enjoy dressing nicely.

That combination is really rare - women who're not conventionally attractive are usually required to be suddenly beautiful at necessary moments, and/or not to give a fuck about what they wear, that being something only pretty women do.

Abra1d Sun 02-Jun-13 20:09:17

I love, love, love GAUDY NIGHT. STRONG POISON is an interesting read: Harriet's mixed feelings: relief, gratitude, trauma, guilt and resentment for being 'saved' by Peter. This runs through into HAVE HIS CARCASE, too.

Yes, I do like that - I find that nicely realistic how she feels. Again it's one of the things I liked from a feministy perspective.

SconeRhymesWithGone United States Sun 02-Jun-13 20:12:26

Strong Poison is the first Harriet Vane book; Whose Body? is the first in the series.

Oh, no, can't do Death Comes to Pemberley, and I am the biggest P.D. James fan on earth, I am sure. I have read her canon (with that exception) several times.

You have to read Murder Must Advertise and the Nine Tailors too - both EXCELLENT!

I will!

Now, why is it women writing crime isn't so unusual, even maybe the norm? It's odd, isn't it, given the way that we're socialized.

MrsOakenshield Sun 02-Jun-13 20:27:49

I think I like the ones with Miss Climpson in them best, so Unnatural Death and Strong Poison - Miss Climpson, a 'superfluous woman' (as all the unmarried women, post-First World War and there not being enough men to go around, were referred to) employed by PW as a kind of private enquiry agent, who can enquire where he cannot. A great character, resigned to her fate but extremely self-aware and intelligent and funny.

I read the HV ones first (after seeing them on TV in, I think, the late 80s) but all her PW books are fantastic, and in fact Have His Carcase is my least favourite. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club is a good one, partly an examination of shell-shock/PTSD - though oddly PW's own shell-shock only comes up once or twice in all the books. Murder Must Advertise (set in an advertsing agency - DLS was a copywriter) is interesting, from a feminist point, as there are women employed in the agency, though only one copywriter (the others are secretaries) who, I daresay, was paid less than the men for the same job.

These are my absolute favourite rereads, I must have read them all at least 10 times. Never fancied PW at all, blond with a monocle? Hmmm.

I've just though of the character of Mary, PW's sister, who is in a particular position as an aristocratic woman and as such is constrained in certain ways but breaks out impressively. Oh, and the Dowager Duchess (PW's mother), she's great! Not such a comedy creation as in Downton, but full of brilliant one-liners.

Speaking of which, he is my favourite one-liner:
'Mrs Featherstone, a woman whose violently compressed figure suggested that she was engaged in a perpetual struggle to compute her weight in terms of the first syllables of her name rather than the last.'

THere's a whole theory about that - read it in a Joan Smith book but I bet it isn't hers grin - that for women writing a novel is a HUGE thing - so they write crime fiction because it has rules and they can kind of slip under the critical radar.
I think that's bollocks myself.

northern Hmm. Yes, me too, as a snap judgement. grin

A bit of it, maybe, but surely not for Sayers, for whom it sounds as if fairly clearly 'literary' writing would have been more acceptable.

MrsO - I am looking forward to Mrs Climpson!

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 02-Jun-13 20:39:37

Murder must advertise is a must for those who like words. grin

MooncupGoddess Sun 02-Jun-13 20:49:00

Oh look, my dream thread!

Gaudy Night is one of my favourite books, and probably the best treatment of the choices available to women I have ever read. I love the way DLS dramatises the different female characters and the way their lives turn out: happy Phoebe the archaeologist with her nice archaeologist husband and children, versus the really miserable woman who was a top scholar but now spends her life running her husband's farm and is absolutely subsumed in wifework.

Then cheerful useful spinsters (like Miss Lydgate, Miss de Vine etc) versus bitter frustrated ones like the don who has a crush on Peter. And of course the villain in Gaudy Night has very traditional views on women's lives.

It's all a fascinating backdrop as Harriet struggles with the decision of whether to remain single and focus on her writing or marry Peter and potentially lose her individuality and career (though of course he is v. keen to reassure her that won't happen).

Do read Strong Poison, LRD - it's a good novel in itself and also interesting in its frank depiction of sexual hypocrisy - a significant part of the plot is that Harriet has lived with (ie shagged) her ghastly boyfriend before marriage.

I also like the way Gaudy Night is very woman focused... Peter and his nephew are really the only male characters. Sayers of course was a massive feminist (though she didn't like the term) and a couple of her pieces on feminism have been published in a short book called Are Women Human? Gaudy Night is really an exploration of her life's thinking about such matters. Yes she falls in love with Peter a bit too much, but her own love life was shitty, as I recall, and throughout the series he develops from a chinless aristo into her ideal man, as her husband became more and more useless. Somehow I can't hold it against her too much.

Ooh ... that is fascinating, mooncup. And I'll definitely read some of the others.

I liked the women in GN too - and the way her introductory note points out she's 'given' Oxford a college of 150 women which is more than the statute allows. I don't know exactly what that refers to but I'm guessing it meant that women's colleges had to be a certain size? It amuses me she puts it this way.

FairPhyllis Sun 02-Jun-13 20:56:11

I (oddly) read Busman's Honeymoon first - because I didn't realise they were a series and it was the only DLS my parents had hanging around the house. Then I read Gaudy Night in my first year at university which was lent to me by a (very obsessed) friend, and a bunch of the earlier ones later. It would be interesting to go back and read them with a more strongly formed feminist consciousness. I don't think I've read them recently enough to be able to comment. I think I'm now kinda glad I didn't read them as a teen - I know a couple of people who totally fell for Peter in their teens, and he does make me a bit queasy in the Harriet books for some reason I can't put my finger on. I think I like the Nine Tailors best.

The thing about continuing books after the author's death - interesting. I don't know whether it's true that it happens more with women's work than with men's. There have been lots of continuations of some men's work.

What I would say that most 'continuation' fiction seems to have in common is that the novels are usually in what publishers would call 'genre fiction' (e.g. Ian Fleming novels, detective stuff like DLS, historical novels, fantasy novels like Peter Pan, Treasure Island etc - Terry Pratchett has also said he is happy for his daughter to continue Discworld when he can no longer write) where a primary attraction of the original novels is the world-building aspect. The continuations are usually about a desire to return to that world.

So perhaps you get continuations of Austen and Charlotte Bronte because they are (wrongly?) perceived and marketed as genre romantic fiction? Anyway, the Jane Austen 'industry' is very weird, seems to be relatively recent and creeps me out no end.

You do of course get stuff like Wide Sargasso Sea but I'd say that it's doing something very different from simply 'returning to the world' - it's taking part in a completely different discourse than a straight up continuation of Jane Eyre would be.

MooncupGoddess Sun 02-Jun-13 21:00:13

I've never got on with Busman's Honeymoon (except for the prologue about the wedding which is lovely). All the stuff about Peter and Harriet's marriage bed is a bit much for me though I would do him in a trice

I hate the JPW sequels, though I like many of her other books (Parcel of Patterns, Knowledge of Angels etc). They're really flat and dull compared to Sayers, the mystery plots don't work and Harriet comes across as terribly wifey.

I don't find Peter terribly attractive, no.

I suppose what I was thinking about continuations was, it's interesting that (by and large) people make a huge fuss about continuations of men's books, but the continuations of Austen are actually seen (by some idiots) as quite respectable. And Wild Sargasso Sea is a classic.

It doesn't surprise me Pratchett would have the same attitude as he seems very lacking in ego - he comes across as a really nice man.

Whereas no-one (so far as I know) sat down to polish off Kubla Khan. I mean, I bet several someones did, but it's not made it into our reading consciousness, because naturally Coleridge is a genius whose lofty male vision cannot be equalled.

I'm going to have to read the other JPW sequels just to see what I think, now. I love her Imogen Quy detective books (though they irritate me as a feminist with the way they harp on about how women can't have it all, especially not a thought in their heads and a man).

SconeRhymesWithGone United States Sun 02-Jun-13 21:06:39

I think the problem that I have with continuation/fan fiction is that I am especially sensitive to "voice," and a really good writer's voice is almost impossible to duplicate. The other thing is that I suppose I have my own inner fan fiction in my head, what I imagine Darcy and Elizabeth to be up to in their dotage, so I don't want it spoiled by others.

Mmm. I can put up with not-spot-on 'voice', but a lot of fanfic is dire. Even fanfic that's competently written in and of itself. It really pissed me off.

Especially bad are people who Americanize/Britishize characters from the other country because they don't realize not all idioms translate. But, that's off-topic.

MooncupGoddess Sun 02-Jun-13 21:20:49

I think fanfic is best left on the internet, really... but I can see why publishers want to cash in.


Though I do see the appeal, if you're a woman writer, of taking a male-dominated story and writing your own version. I think it's interesting too that Sayers started off writing Whimsey and ended up writing more and more about Harriet.

SconeRhymesWithGone United States Sun 02-Jun-13 21:24:29

I just had a bit of a jolt. I had forgotten until this moment that it was Sayers who introduced me to mystery fiction, which has remained a life-long love. I was rather snobbish in my literary tastes in my youth (English lit degree and all that) and in my ignorance only read "serious" fiction. My grandmother loved detective novels, though, and one day at her house, when I had run out of something to read, I picked up her copy of Nine Tailors. I was hooked and then read all the other books in order. I have been an ardent mystery reader ever since. What a nice memory. smile

Abra1d Sun 02-Jun-13 21:25:16

What I love about MURDER MUST ADVERTISE is it's one of the first modern novels set at in an office. There are parts of advertising agency life that seem quite familiar to anyone who's worked in that kind of business. I worked in PR agencies and some aspects haven't changed much.

Office lit as genre.

grin Ahh, my English Lit degree was the thing that finally made me feel absolutely ok to read whatever the fuck I wanted! I have a lot of chicklit. But I am only just getting into crime fiction, partly as a result of the 'reading books written by women' thing, which I don't do strictly but try to think about doing.

abra - oh, that's interesting. And it'd have been quite a significant location for women, I guess, since working in an office was (if I understand right) one of the very sought-after jobs and one of the best paid.

FairPhyllis Sun 02-Jun-13 21:42:59

I suppose it's true that you don't get continuation attempts with men's literary fiction - I don't know if you'd include things like Edwin Drood in literary fiction though, because that does have an awful lot of continuation attempts and we don't get worked up about them despite seeing Dickens as a lofty male genius. Or maybe we do get worked up about them. I don't know.

But is it really that common with women's literary fiction? The prime example seems to be Pride and Prejudice above all else (and the unfinished novels), and I think that is down to it being miscategorised as romantic fiction and having spawned into this strange Austen industry - which I think is worth examining in itself as this weird isolated example. You don't get Virginia Woolf continuations say, or 'what happened next' in Middlemarch.

Speaking of Americanisation, there's a magnificent rant on Lindsay Davis' (Falco detective novels) website (actually she has a whole page titled 'Rants'. I like her.) about American readers who contact her and ask if she is going to 'correct' things for the American edition.

I read most of them for the first time at Somerville (library copies, donated by DLS, although I have since acquired my own), and I think Somerville has long since come to terms with her portrayal of the college. She was generally fairly ambivalent about Somerville, though.

I love Peter as, clearly, does DS, but agree that Busman's Honeymoon is an introspective step too far - they are both much more human in Gaudy Night.

joanofarchitrave Sun 02-Jun-13 21:47:09

Murder Must Advertise is one of my favourite novels, and I also love Have His Carcase and Strong Poison. I find Gaudy Night quite difficult and Busman's Honeymoon jumps the shark for me the moment Harriet leans out of the car and says '"Lady Peter Wimsey", feeling not at all sure that it was her name.' FGS. I also think DLS becomes far too keen on Bunter and his silent, perfect servitude in that book, in fact at that point Bunter seems like the fantasy object once Harriet has finally shagged PW. I can relate, but it's a bit queasy. The spinster character in that book is actively nasty and laughable, compared to the variety of unmarried women in Gaudy Night.

But I like the cocaine plot in MMA, even though on a third or fourth reading it makes absolutely no sense at all - it does it with pizazz, anyway. I adore the colleague who stalks PW to Simpsons in his lunch hour, and the other one who fixes the advert at 30 seconds to deadline after hours. You can almost smell the office atmosphere, it's so realistic, and there aren't many good novels about offices despite the fact that it's a widely shared experience, especially IMO novels about offices that focus on doing the office sweepstake, organising the biscuit rota and collecting money for wedding presents, as opposed to jockeying for power - i.e. IMO more of the usual female experience of office life.

fair - oh, I'm really only thinking out loud, TBH. Though, to do so, I think Dickens is different because several of his novels were serialized, which gives them a different status as not being quite 'entities' the way some Great Male Literature is.

Btw, not relevant, but someone (I forget who) said they couldn't cope with Lindsay Davis after she had Falco add up as if he were mentally calculating in modern numbers, not CLs and XIVs.

I quite enjoyed Busman's Holiday. blush I must be sappy.

MooncupGoddess Sun 02-Jun-13 21:59:32

Good point re Bunter in Busman's Honeymoon, Joan!

Yes, the mystery plot in MMA is pretty dodgy... but then, the coded shenanigans in Have His Carcase and the murder methods in Strong Poison and Unnatural Death are ropey too. One doesn't read mystery novels for plot believability, and at least DLS is much better than character believability than her competitors.

MooncupGoddess Sun 02-Jun-13 22:04:20

Re your fanfic point, LRD, like you I can't think of any male novelists who have been subjected to it. JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Margaret Mitchell, Austen, the Brontes... they're all women.

I'm trying to think of some, too - especially ones that don't write genre fiction.

Just pondering really but I would like to know whether it has to do with the way women are expected to be all sweet and collaborative, and not to mind about exclusive 'credit' for their ideas.

Or maybe I am reading far too much into it! grin

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 02-Jun-13 22:07:11

If I was only reading one LPW ever again, I'd pick Murder Must Advertise, I think.

<I exclude Gaudy Night, as that's a Harriet Vane book grin>

joanofarchitrave Sun 02-Jun-13 22:07:41

I have to say that despite all I say about Busman's Honeymoon, I've read it approx 15 times blush so I must have found something in it!


Ah, isn't that true of the best books? We love them so much we have to pick them to pieces.

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 02-Jun-13 22:15:27

Talking about Lindsay Davis (another diversion, after which I am going to bed), she has good female characters too, and Falco himself is not all bad. And she's written a new book with Helena and Falco's adopted daughter as lead. Has anyone read that?

Oh, I have read Busman's Honeymoon lots of times too - I just much prefer the range of characters and the romance of Gaudy Night.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 02-Jun-13 22:24:05

Joan, Aggie Twitterton is laughable but not nasty? Though people are nasty to her.

I have never read the BH play but I think AT must have been a caricature (as with the cleaner) whereas I think Mrs Venables and Superintendent Kirk must have been better developed for the novelisation. But yes, the mockery of AT after Gaudy Night is jarring.

Fascinating thread. I love DLS but had never thought about her books from this angle before.

On the subject of fanfic/continuations of male authors - DH has just finished reading The House of Silk which is a Sherlock Holmes follow on. The other male authors I can think of who've had the fanfic treatment are JM Barrie and Ian Flemming. All genre fiction, FWIW.

Oh, that's interesting ... I know there is a lot of Sherlock Holmes fanfic online, and I suppose the remakes and stuff like Dr Who are to some extent fanfic continuations. Difficult to know where something stops being a continuation and just becomes vaguely 'inspired by'. But yes, that's true.

Oddly, one of my mates who teaches English at secondary found out a while back that most of her class who'd heard of JM Barrie assumed he was a woman.

I've read the new Lindsay Davis. It's pretty good though not one of her best plots - and anybody with 1/2 a brain can see the 'twist' coming.
The thing about Lindsay Davis is that though she acknowledges she sees part of herself in Falco, he's also very much inspired by her partner. He died a couple of years ago and I suspect that very much influenced her decision to move on a generation. Must be awfully painful to write about your fictional couple's loving bliss when your own heart is broken.

SconeRhymesWithGone United States Mon 03-Jun-13 00:29:45

On the Americanization issue: they must just use some sort of "search and replace" function aimed mainly at spelling, but it does irritate me, especially when single malt is called "whiskey,"(which of course is incorrect even in the US when referring to Scotch) and quoted letters and notes have American spellings. Does that happen in reverse? Does "behavior" in an American novel become "behaviour" when published in the UK? I have even ordered books from Amazon UK to avoid this, but unfortunately I can't get UK versions on Kindle in the US.

FairPhyllis Mon 03-Jun-13 02:18:53

I've been thinking way too much about this.

- One example with a definitely literary-male-author source: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, from Hamlet. Perhaps it's surprising there aren't more from Shakespeare. Much of actual "Shakespeare" also arguably fan fic, both of other authors and of Shakespeare? Also Gertrude and Claudius by Updike is parallel with Hamlet.
- The Aeneid is also arguably Homeric fan fic.
- Richardson got really pissed off by the contemporary sequels that were written for Pamela - not all just satire.
- Tristram Shandy and Don Quixote also had contemporary fan fic/sequels published.
- The Flashman series is a sort of continuation of a male written novel (Tom Brown's Schooldays).
- F Scott Fitzgerald's last novel was completed by someone.
- Eoin Colfer has written a sixth Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novel.
- Philip K Dick, Robert Heinlein and Raymond Chandler have all had stuff that was unfinished completed by other people.
- The Dune series has had a lot of books added to it by Frank Herbert's son.
- Andrew Motion wrote a sequel to Treasure Island.
- The Frost novels and the Godfather novels are being continued.

Scone - I imagine that's how it's done, but there are definitely other kinds of more idiomatic changes that are made by editors for US readers - like notoriously 'Sorcerer's Stone' in Harry Potter for 'Philosopher's Stone'. It's also problematic when the same word has different referents in US and UK English. Lindsay Davis was getting worked up about being told by a US reader not to use 'corn' to denote ... well, corn (wheat). The reader thought 'corn' should be reserved for the US sense, i.e. maize. I'm not sure what happens in reverse tbh because I don't read a lot of US authors.

Thinking about it I bought US editions of the Patrick O'Brian novels though and I don't remember spelling being changed in them. But I ordered my copy of Deathly Hallows from Amazon UK to avoid being irritated by spelling changes.

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 03-Jun-13 07:41:22

Talking of Sherlock Holmes fanfiction, has anyone read Laurie King's Mary Russell books? Mary Russell is a pretty strong female character.

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 03-Jun-13 07:42:41

Northern interesting about Lindsay Davis. I do like her books and will read the new one once I've got through the stash that I purloined from my MIL.

fair - ooh, I like this! I was thinking about fairly recent writers.

There are more Shakespeare ones, I think? ('All for Love' and Westside Story and so on). I think writers that far back weren't so fussed about being 'lone male genius'. People constantly try to finish off Chaucer's unfinished works for him. And the Aeneid as fanfic. grin

Richardson getting pissed off feels to me closer to the modern ideas about male writers - damn it, it's my book, I get to tell the story, how dare you take the piss?

I did not know about Andrew Motion's sequel - is it any good?

Christine de Pizan wrote continuations or versions of the Troy story, too. One of the things she wrote is a set of Greek myths that were supposed to be written from the goddess Othea to inspire Hector as a teenager. But then she's fab and excellent.

FWIW, I have a couple of US children's books (by Cynthia Voigt), which have a note at the beginning saying that to save money, they have been printed for the UK market with US spellings. They are quite old, though. I don't know if popular US stuff over here, like Sweet Valley or Babysitters' Club, was edited at all but I'm fairly sure a lot of the references stay the same because they seemed very exotic to us. grin

I'm going to have to add Laurie King and Lindsay Davis to my Amazon list ...

FairPhyllis Mon 03-Jun-13 10:34:28

Yeah, if I run into my old Latin tutor I am going to run the 'Homeric fanfic' theory by him. He'll probably love it as well.

I think that 'pirated' novels and 'unauthorised sequels' were a common problem for Richardson and writers of about the same period because of copyright law being in its infancy at the time - you couldn't assert ownership of characters or a setting. So I think a bunch of the sequels written by early novelists, like Richardson's sequel to Pamela, were at least partly a response to the unauthorised continuations that were coming into circulation - plus lots of authors of the period including Richardson published anonymously to begin with. I suppose Richardson wanted a) the credit and b) the money.

It's a bit like JK Rowling shutting down that Harry Potter Encyclopedia, isn't it? She really doesn't like fanfic either - she very definitely wants to shut down any interpretation of the novels which she doesn't want out there. She seems to have particularly not liked all the slash that was being written about Sirius Black. So I suppose she is an example of a female 'lofty writer I will control my work dammit' type, although she has an unusual amount of cultural and legal clout.

No idea about whether the Andrew Motion book is any good - I'm not hugely fond of Treasure Island so I was never interested in looking at it. It's called Silver.

I knew Chaucer didn't finish the Canterbury Tales - but I didn't know people had tried to complete them. It's quite interesting when you think that most of the history of literature was basically a mad pre-copyright pilfering-of-each-other's-ideas-and-text free for all, and that the (pretty recent) introduction of copyright has totally changed the way we think about authorship and the idea of a text in such a short time.

YY, that makes sense about copyright law. I am wondering now how women and copyright worked - would it effectively belong to their husbands if they were married? It's strange to think, isn't it, but I suppose if your property all belonged to your husband, presumably that included intellectual property?

Rowling is interesting on author power. I wouldn't say she is a plagiarist exactly, but I don't think she is terribly gracious about citing her influences.

With the Chaucer - yes, people tried to round off the unfinished bits by putting new tales in. And lots of people write sort of pseudo-Chaucer texts. It's funny, because when Caxton first printed the Canterbury Tales, he got lots of old gentlemen writing to him in agitation to say they had excellent manuscripts of the book and he was printing it all wrong! grin

I do seriously think we've got a really different idea of what being an author means, now, though. I find it really interesting that - well, for me anyway - one of the least convincing bits in the Sayers books are the bits where Harriet is talking about what it's like writing detective fiction. I'm not a writer so I don't know, but the way she talks about plotting sounds dead twee and contrived. It's as if she wasn't quite comfortable explaining how she did it.

(Ahem. That is so only funny if you are me. Yeah.)

seeker Mon 03-Jun-13 10:40:15

I love the bit in Unnatural Death where Miss Climpson fakes a seance. I often wish I could cut and paste it and use it on here......

Did I hear someon say Michael Innes? I thought I was the only person left alive who read him!

seeker Mon 03-Jun-13 10:41:23

Funny if you're me too, LRD!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 03-Jun-13 10:46:02

"twee" might have been deliberate, LRD - HV is pretty sensitive to explaining her work. I think her comment to an academic in Gaudy Night about it being marvellous when you get a piece of prose exactly right is closer to the mark for her, but she is self conscious about the worthiness of detective fiction.

Which bit did you have in mind as being twee?

FairPhyllis Mon 03-Jun-13 10:48:38

I like the bit in Gaudy Night where Harriet talks to the undergraduates and concludes that if there were to be an Final Honour School of Detective Fiction it would produce a good crop of Firsts.

Thanks seeker. smile

doctrine - btw, I saw your name in her books! It made me grin. - yes, fair enough, could be deliberate. I was thinking of the bits in Have His Carcass, and then in Busman's Holiday when she has Kirk thinking about lady detective writers.

Btw, I find the Kirk bits rather cringe-inducing. Maybe this is to do with times having moved on, so that the literary references Peter and Harriet keep tossing about are less obvious and you can sympathise more with Kirk being slower to get them?

fair - I like that too. grin

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 03-Jun-13 11:38:15

seeker It was me talking about Michael Innes! I love his books. You are guaranteed to find words you have to look up in a dictionary in his books. (Perhaps that's only good if you were me. hmm)

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 03-Jun-13 14:00:27

Oh sure, IRL you'd want to punch anyone "moderately familiar with the works of minor Elizabethan lyricists" or whatever it was, unless they were undertaking a DPhil in the subject at the time... grin


My stealth-boasting skills are shit hot.

I had to teach bits of them, though, so that is my excuse.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 03-Jun-13 14:03:32

Why sad? I just meant that the amount of esoteric knowledge held by those two at the tips of their tongues was, ahem, a smidge on the smug side...

Oh, I was joking. The sadface was meant to be a stealth boast implying I am reasonably familiar with people who aren't Shakespeare or Donne (which is what I think they mean).

But yes, they are smug. I find it irritating that in the modern editions printed quite recently, they don't translate the long bits of French, and my French is not really up to it.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 03-Jun-13 14:08:01

Oh good smile

Sorry! blush

SconeRhymesWithGone United States Mon 03-Jun-13 14:48:58

This is a great thread. I will now add Michael Innes and Lindsey Davis to my list.

Last week I finished a massive project at work, and having promised myself a solitary mini-vacation as reward, I am now sitting on a screened porch on an island off the coast of Georgia, first cup of coffee in hand, happily lost in Gaudy Night.

Thanks to all. flowers

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 03-Jun-13 15:00:32


envy envy envy

LordCopper - I love your name. It's a common saying in our family, but whenever I have tried it on anyone else, including DH, I get hmm.

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 03-Jun-13 15:48:45

Stealth smile DH and I both Evelyn Waugh fans. Come to think of it, have never tried thinking about his books from the feminist perspective. Probably doesn't bear thinking about ...

I wouldn't, if I were you. I don't think they would stand up to scrutiny and it might spoil them.

RE DLS and French - those who've read Clouds of Witness (which is another jolly good book and possibly a good one to start with if you're new to Sayers) will know that the solution come in the form of a letter in French. Can you believe when DLS first wrote it she didn't add a translation! Her publishers had to insist.......

Ooh, scone. Niiiiice. envy That sounds perfect.

northern - at least they insisted! I was struggling with one of Peter's uncle's letters. I would be so fucked off to get to the end of a book and realize the solution was in something I'd had to skip.

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 03-Jun-13 19:08:43

I thought it was only me! I thought all British people will read enough French (!!), and I'm not from round here and they didn't think to teach us French where I come from. grin

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 03-Jun-13 19:10:29

(Of course I know that not everyone who read English is British and not all British people read French. It's just one of those irrational thing. Like thinking Watership Down was written by rabbits. blush)



I let the side down.

Of course we all read French!

I can read a bit of French and I can struggle through something if I know broadly what it's about, but TBH I skip over the French in a book like that, because life is short and I can't be arsed to sit over google keying in every fourth word.

SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 03-Jun-13 19:32:53

This is my dream thread grin

Absolutely agree with all the Gaudy Night love. I think the negotiation Harriet and Peter go through to find a mutually respectful way to have a relationship is one of the most fascinating, admirable pieces of writing on love I've read. Compare it with the way courtship is written in most novels, then and now, and it feels revolutionary, I think. Off to order Whose Body? which I haven't actually read. I thank you all grin

Lilymaid Mon 03-Jun-13 19:41:55

If you like Michael Innes, try reading the series of books he wrote as J.I.M. Stewart (his real name) - A Staircase in Surrey.

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 03-Jun-13 19:50:04

I've not read the JIM Stewart books. Next on the list!

edam Mon 03-Jun-13 19:52:48

Am I the only person who enjoys Jill Paton Walsh's continuation of the Wimsey stories? I've been addicted to Dorothy L Sayers since my early teens (along with Christie and Wentworth and, to a lesser extent, Ngiao (sp?) Marsh) so it was lovely to see the characters continue. Think JPL did DLS justice in the unfinished book she finished - far more so than many other attempts to finish unfinished novels. PD James' Pemberley was horrific - that woman has NO wit at all, heaven only knows how she thought she was capable of imitating Austen, let alone writing a sequel.

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 03-Jun-13 19:56:40

edam - Agree about Pemberley.

Hello to SarahMumsnet.

How about Margery Allingham then? Strange goings on between women in The Fashion in Shrouds. And the courtship (?) between Albert Campion and Amanda? I do like Amanda. A woman aeroplane designer, in those days!

seeker Mon 03-Jun-13 20:22:33

Sarah- I am so jealous of you still having a PW book to read!

As I feel in the company of like minds- can I mention The Crystal Cave?

Oh, I am honoured, sarahMN. grin

I agree about the writing, too. I love how there's a bit where Peter is trying to comfort her, and at some point his voice is muffled in her hair. That's the only bit of 'physical' there. Nicely done.

I enjoyed the one I read, edam, I've just not read enough to judge.

I agree it's not in the same class as Pemberley, even a bit.

FairPhyllis Mon 03-Jun-13 21:30:10

I've added Michael Innes and Laurie King to my Amazon wishlist.

More thoughts: what do we think about the horror mashups of classic novels? Interesting that the immediate subjects of these were the big classic women writers - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Jane Slayer. I haven't actually read any of them though. Why not Vanity Fair and Vampires?

SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 03-Jun-13 22:08:36

I liked the first JPW continuation which, if I remember rightly, is based quite heavily on DLS fragments ...

and seeker - ALWAYS mention The Crystal Cave! I haven't read that for years. Off to order that too ...

MooncupGoddess Mon 03-Jun-13 22:15:49

The best Margery Allingham novels (Sweet Danger, Tiger in the Smoke, More Work for the Undertaker, Traitor's Purse etc) are odd but brilliant. I like Amanda too though I have a nasty feeling Allingham makes some rather less feminist comments about women's roles elsewhere.

Haven't read The Crystal Cave for many, many years but I love Mary Stewart's romantic thrillers. Although the plucky heroine usually ends up getting rescued by the dashing hero...

Michael Innes drives me potty - he really can be smug and pedantic.

The thing about DLS not wanting to put in a translation of the long letter in French - I read somewhere, possibly in the introduction to Striding Folly, that people accused her of intellectual snobbery, i.e. of only writing for clever people, whereas she just assumed that everybody WAS clever, IYSWIM. (Not at all intending to imply that a knowledge of French is a necessary condition of cleverness!)

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 03-Jun-13 22:21:39

Yy to the first JPW book. "The Attenbury Emeralds" was a perfectly tolerable novel, it just didn't happen to include LPW and HV, just some characters with those names.

Amanda is fairly independent and emancipated, IIRC. She certainly has to rescue Albert often enough.

LadyPeterWimsey Mon 03-Jun-13 23:33:01

My French is so ropey that I struggled for years to understand what Wicked Uncle Paul was writing to Harriet and Peter in BH. Fortunately the internet came along and now I google whenever I get to that bit. Although I have got the drift by now. grin


Do I curtsey?!

I'm sorry, I'm mostly just looking at your name.

There's a Harriet Vane around somewhere, too, IIRC.

LadyPeterWimsey Mon 03-Jun-13 23:39:33

I was drawn to this thread like a moth to a flame... grin

Please don't curtsey; I think that would have embarassed my alter ego enormously.

I envy you immensely not having read all of DLS yet. Only the pleasure of re-reading is left and that is quite a different pleasure.

LadyPeterWimsey Mon 03-Jun-13 23:41:52

Meant to say I don't use google translate but someone has kindly translated the passages on a blog somewhere.

Oh, I am very much looking forward to the rest. smile

And I will check out the French now I know there's a translation kicking around.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 04-Jun-13 09:45:40

Sorry, we're not doing much feminist analysis here, are we?

I'm conscious that not everyone has read all the books, so will try not to spoil any whodunnits. But what do we make of Lady Mary not working after marriage when her whole character beforehand was seething for "something useful" to do?

Also, in GN, how far towards the solution was HV before LPW swooped in to draw it all together? She seemed to gather all the data but he had the brilliant insights.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 04-Jun-13 09:48:59

Back to "Thrones, Dominations" - I would love to know which parts DLS actually wrote. The death seemed more modern than a DLS death, somehow.

seeker Tue 04-Jun-13 10:05:46

Gaudy Night isn't available on audio book sad the others are, though- read by Ian Carmichael- very good.

EmilyAlice Tue 04-Jun-13 10:06:04

Have read all the PWs about ten times and have all the DVDs too. I prefer Edward Petherbridge to Ian Carmichael as PW, but can't stand Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane, in fact the only thing I liked her in is Louis Malle's film Milou en Mai (fab is you haven't seen it and even better if you remember May 1968), where she plays a batty English woman.
Haven't read JIM Stewart for years, but still read Margery Allingham, though the style is very mannered and grates a bit. What about Ngaio Marsh and her detective, Roderick Alleyn?

Thanks doctrine. I am bad at digressing.

I don't know if Peter did have all the brilliant insights - isn't there a bit where he implies she knows who it is, and she replies she does know, but wishes she was wrong?

I think it fits neatly with the wider theme about women having this issue of feeling responsible for other women's welfare, and that being both positive and negative. So the women's college carefully gives jobs to women who need them and makes allowances for the married servant who needs time off for her children - but eventually this is problematic.

I don't think that particular dilemma has changed that much, has it? There's still the basic issue of how to be collaborative and think about 'the sisterhood' without giving away all your power in a society that finds it offensive women should have any power to give away. And there's still the issue of how come some women are at least as anti-women as men.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 04-Jun-13 10:12:19

Seeker, yes it is, via Audible.

I mean, Peter can swoop in brilliantly because, although he respects a lot of the women and loves Harriet, he doesn't have the same loyalties they all do.

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 04-Jun-13 10:15:12

One (long) post before work:

In GN I think HV was too caught up with all the emotional side of things that she was getting a bit lost. I think she had the disadvantage of having to consider these things, being a woman, while PW didn't, due to his male (and aristocratic) privilege. wink

I think DLS was a bit mocking of Lady Mary and her sympathies. But Mary broke out of her class and upbringing a fair bit in the end. (Is that sufficiently spoiler-free?)

I can't remember which JPW continuation I read, but it was the conversation between HV and PW that really jarred. Too much mansplaining, if I recall correctly. grin HV holds her own and PW knows it. Honestly. I would rather not understand the stuff myself than have PW mansplaining things to HV. angry (Taking it all too seriously!?)

As for Allingham, there were some rather odd bits about women. Has anyone read the Fashion in Shrouds? To avoid spoiler: Man demands whole life from Woman but will only give part of his (explicitly said) and Woman consented! shock A line that stuck in my head: she would rather die than admit that her fella was not as able and as intelligent as she was. There is also a similar view expressed in Pride and Prejudice - that Mr Bennet had married a woman not quite up to him intellectually, and he suffered for it. What do people think of that?

And now to my day job. smile

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 04-Jun-13 10:15:47

She says she's beginning to have an idea but can't make it fit. It's hard to know if she does know at that point.

Interesting point about sisterhood though. I shall ponder.

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 04-Jun-13 10:15:49

Ooo. xpost with lots of people. Typed too slowly. Will read later.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 04-Jun-13 10:19:25

Yes the personal loyalties point is good and explored further in BH ("we didn't know these people then!").

upto - YY, Peter's aristocratic privilege is a fairly big issue, isn't it? I think that's very cleverly done, so you realize at some point how much of an advantage he's starting out with.

I need to read more books to keep up with this thread! blush I shoulda waited to start the bloody thing, but it is so nice looking forward to it all.

doctrine - mmm, see, I read that as her saying she couldn't make it fit partly because she didn't like it? I don't know. But yes, it's hard to know.

EmilyAlice Tue 04-Jun-13 11:25:19

I think it is relevant that DLS didn't have much luck with the men in her life and that having an illegitimate baby was a big thing at the time, which was why she didn't bring her son up herself. I have always assumed that she was in love with PW and he was everything she would have liked in a man, but didn't get. I am sure she would have been a seventies feminist, but her generation didn't have that opportunity.

SconeRhymesWithGone United States Tue 04-Jun-13 16:32:52

This thread has made me think of another mystery writer I read and liked some years back: Carolyn Heilbrun, who wrote under the pen name, Amanda Cross. Heilbrun was a professor of English at Columbia University and her sleuth, Kate Fansler, was also an academic. As I recall, some of her books were better than others, but they all had strong feminist themes, and some were written contemporaneously with the heyday of second wave feminism in the US. The one I remember best is Death in a Tenured Position.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 04-Jun-13 18:08:21

I have a biography of DLS which I'm part way through, tis good.

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 04-Jun-13 18:58:51

Thank you scones. Will look that up.

I tried Ngaio Marsh - one short stories collection - but no deep impression. Might try more.

seeker Tue 04-Jun-13 21:09:00

Roderick Alleyne, Adam Dalgliesh, Alan Grant, Peter Wimsey - all cut from same cloth!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 04-Jun-13 21:47:10


SconeRhymesWithGone United States Tue 04-Jun-13 22:18:13

Thanks for mentioning Alan Grant; I just added The Daughter of Time to my re-read list.

I will have to retire to find time to read all these books. smile

seeker Tue 04-Jun-13 22:33:48

Don't forget The Singing Sands. Wonderful book!

SconeRhymesWithGone United States Tue 04-Jun-13 23:03:38

The Singing Sands, definitely added to the list.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 05-Jun-13 07:48:03

Stop it you people! I shall have to neglect the children to read all these books and it will be your fault. grin

Abra1d Wed 05-Jun-13 13:37:23

'Roderick Alleyne, Adam Dalgliesh, Alan Grant, Peter Wimsey - all cut from same cloth!'

I should remind my son, who sometimes laments the fact he's not a hulking jock, that these are the kind of men real women fall for: intelligent, thoughtful, etc.

I often think of Mr Bennet suffering for the rest of his life from having chosen a beautiful but silly wife. I have other male friends who have done something similar and it gets very lonely when you reach the later part of your life and there is no hope of being soulmates with your spouse.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Tue 18-Jun-13 23:36:04


MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Tue 18-Jun-13 23:40:33

Ooh, I'm so glad you bumped this!

I have just finished reading Nine Tailors (like, this morning). It is so spooky! I wasn't expecting that, but it was properly atmospheric.

From a feministy point of view I found Peter's supporting the teenager who wanted to go to Oxford and write books rather sweet, but also a little odd ... in the context of the Harriet Vane books (which I expect she'd not thought of writing at this point?) it does slightly make Peter look like a dirty old man with an odd thing for bookish Oxford grads.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Wed 19-Jun-13 00:15:59

The Nine Tailors was the last book before Gaudy Night.

I think Sayers was perhaps seeing Hilary as a young Harriet (or else a young Sayers grin).

The would-be heiress in Bellona Club has some of Harriet's characteristics too.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Wed 19-Jun-13 00:18:10

Yes, I'm sure she's a young Sayers. smile

I need to read the Bellona Club one.

notcitrus Wed 19-Jun-13 12:00:06

Loving this thread - I'm in the middle of reading Sayers, after never getting into them when I was younger, probably because I started with Documents in the Case while revising A-level Chemistry, so the solution was obvious from near the start.

She evokes place particularly well, and some places like rural Norfolk, Piccadilly and the Oxford colleges are incredibly recognisable even now. And it's great t0po have a detective figure with a family. I've just read two volumes of short stories, some of which weren't so great but others were excellent character studies. And I liked the Monty Egg stories, a nice contrast with Wimsey's raining money everywhere.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Wed 19-Jun-13 19:54:35

The Nine Tailors is a Bechdel test fail, I think (Mrs Venables and Emily talk, but it's about Bunter)

TheDoctrineOfAllan Wed 19-Jun-13 19:56:02

I read all my mum's books, the old bindings used to basically give away the plot in the front cover picture!

notnowImreading Wed 19-Jun-13 20:04:11

That drives me bananas. The 1970s editions of Agatha Christie do that as well.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Wed 19-Jun-13 21:05:14

The bells are all she, but sadly, I don't think they're talking to each other except about the dead man.

TeiTetua Wed 19-Jun-13 21:41:47

Out over the flat, white wastes of fen, over the spear-straight, steel-dark dykes and the wind-bent, groaning poplar trees, bursting from the snow-choked louvres of the belfry, whirled away southward and westward in gusty blasts of clamour to the sleeping counties went the music of the bells--little Gaude, silver Sabaoth, strong John and Jericho, glad Jubilee, sweet Dimity and old Batty Thomas, with great Tailor Paul bawling and striding like a giant in the midst of them.

They sound rather male, mostly. But would they be "she" in Norfolk dialect?

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Wed 19-Jun-13 21:45:07

tei - someone in the book claims that all bells, no matter what their names, are 'she'. Apparently. Like ships.

It is nice writing, isn't it?

TheDoctrineOfAllan Wed 19-Jun-13 21:53:52

It is a really well written book, all the characters are fleshed out too.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Wed 07-Aug-13 23:15:12


TheDoctrineOfAllan Wed 07-Aug-13 23:33:58

I'm a bit pissed off with JPW having LPW refer to Rosamund as a "cold hearted sexual tease" in TD. I don't think that came from DLS and in the context, it's hard to stomach from a modern author.

Isabelonatricycle Wed 14-Aug-13 11:25:32

I quite liked the first JPW, but was a bit very irritated by her turning HV into a snob at the end of Attenbury Emeralds after the slight spoiler fire. I don't have my copy with me, but she said something like Bredon now having to go to a good school due to changed circumstances, and Harriet would never have said that!

Love DLS - my grandmother gave me my first (Gaudy Night) when I went up to university as she had been at LMH before the war and she told me that (getting rid of the detectivy bits!) it was a good picture of how Oxford had been in her day. Very much love LPW, but not a fan of her Montague Egg stories.

Along the lines of good detective books to read, has anyone been reading Ellis Peters?

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Wed 14-Aug-13 12:04:12

That's very crap, doctrine, yes. That strikes me as JPW trying too hard to get into an old-fashioned mindset and not crediting Sayers with not being a twit.

I am still enjoying reading through them all, though, I'm on Clouds of Witness at the moment.

It is odd, isn't it, that JPW seems to write Harriet as rather less feministy than Sayers did?

I am massively jealous of your granny, isabel. envy

Isabelonatricycle Wed 14-Aug-13 13:15:54

Oh me too!

I think JPW hadn't had the same experiences as DLS (sorry for stating the obvious) re being among the first to get a degree despite many women studying at Oxford before her, the war, her child etc. And also maybe (tenuous hypothesis here) JPW is making Harriet more "establishment" given all her novels are post their marriage? I don't think Harriet would have ever morphed into Helen (shudder!) but that may be what JPW is trying to do? Or just JPW is less of a feminist than DLS and it shows in her writing as it is very difficult to completely mimic another's style/way of thinking.

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Wed 14-Aug-13 15:32:54

Yes, I think that's definitely true - I think it's such a pity, though, I would have loved to read how Sayers would have written their marriage.

Incidentally, I so didn't realize how slashy Sayers is - the bit I'm reading is about Impey Biggs being 'the most attractive man in England whom no woman will never want', and loving canary birds or musical revue, while Whimsey's voice goes husky. Oooeeer!

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 14-Aug-13 16:43:56

I've read a few Ellis Peters Brother Cadfael books in my time. grin I like Brother Cadfael. Is he a feminist? Can't remember but I remember thinking he's a really nice person.

MooncupGoddess Wed 14-Aug-13 16:46:53

I had never noticed that, LRD! Sayers was v. enlightened and open to 'alternative lifestyles' (as other people have said, much more so than JPW).

There are some good strong women in Cadfael, aren't there - I remember a feisty prioress in particular.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 14-Aug-13 17:21:12

One Peters reminds me of another Peters - Elizabeth Peters - I only read her Vicky Bliss books. They are quite fun. But I don't think I thought too much about how feminist they are ... Must do better. grin Sara Paretsky's VI Warshawshki books are pretty good too.

The first word that pops into my head when Cadfael is mention is "kind". Those books make me want to go to Shrewsbury. grin Anyone been?

LRDYaDumayuShtoTiKrasiviy Wed 14-Aug-13 17:26:02

Ahhh, so much I need to read. smile

TeiTetua Wed 14-Aug-13 17:55:34

Just coincidentally, I read The Confession of Brother Haluin when I found it on the bookshelf in a place I was staying last month. I'd forgotten how good those books could be! Of course there's a lot of fantasy to it, but there's a lot of detail that's at least plausible if you don't know too much about the middle ages (if a historian read the books she'd probably never stop muttering, "No, that wouldn't have happened, no the society of that day would never have tolerated that kind of thing, etc etc)

And yes, Cadfael does seem to radiate goodwill. Of course he's religious (being a monk, and all) but I think he'd say that the best way to serve God is to do what you can to help other people. I liked Hugh Beringar too--he's not so likeable in the TV series IIRC--the sheriff who did what his job required him to do, but who tried to make Shrewsbury a reasonable place to live.

TheDoctrineOfJetlag Wed 14-Aug-13 18:18:36

I don't remember that bit about the school, Isabel - wasn't Bredon already at Eton along with PB?

What pee'd me off about the fire was HV's reaction to something that was on the cards for years - didn't make sense.

Alas, poor Winifred - the invisible girl-child! (now there's something unfeminist - if you ain't the son and heir, you ain't nothing!)

TheDoctrineOfJetlag Wed 14-Aug-13 18:25:43

Me neither, Mooncup. Though Unnatural Death is alternative, for sure!

At the end of Murder Must Advertise, I didn't like that two characters were getting married as it seemed to be a win for the Doctrine (grin) of Persistence trope - ie man pursues woman, crowds her and pisses her off, but ends up winning her hand in marriage, blah blah,

TeiTetua Wed 14-Aug-13 18:42:09

In the Cadfael books, Winifred is a saint. A dead one, however.

FairPhyllis Thu 15-Aug-13 03:30:35

Elizabeth Peters died last week, actually. Here is her obit in the Post. I nodded with recognition at the bit about her being unable to find employment in academia

The only novel I've read of hers is the first one in the Amelia Peabody series (Crocodile on the Sandbank). Amelia is very much a Victorian feminist of the redoubtable lady adventurer type. I found her a bit of a Mary Sue tbh but if you are looking for a historical romp then you could do a lot worse.

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 15-Aug-13 20:23:10

I read about Elizabeth Peters. sad I've not read the Peabody books, but will give it a go. I like historical novels - that's how I learn my history. grin

Wiki said St Winifred was killed by a suitor. shock

TeiTetua Thu 15-Aug-13 22:40:29

Yes yes, St Winifred suffered male violence against women. Her suitor Caradoc did cut her head off, but then her uncle St Beuno put her together again, and "invoked the chastisement of heaven, and Caradoc fell dead on the spot, the popular belief being that the ground opened and swallowed him". So that was all right, wasn't it.

And we're thinking detective stories can be a little far-fetched.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 16-Aug-13 08:18:52

Detective story plots have nothing on stories of saints. wink Even the Michael Innes ones which I consider pretty far-fetched. I can't remember what Cadfael thought about Winifred.

TheDoctrineOfPositivityYes Thu 22-Aug-13 21:23:34


George's treatment of Sheila is pretty sexist in Bellona Club.

MooncupGoddess Thu 22-Aug-13 22:25:53

Yes, but the authorial voice (and Wimsey) are very much on Sheila's side, as I recall; she's the breadwinner and shown desperately keeping everything together while George falls apart.

There is a Cadfael novel about a saint being buried and dug up again miraculously intact, isn't there? Or something like that... it's a long time since I read them.

TheDoctrineOfPositivityYes Fri 23-Aug-13 14:45:48

True, Mooncup.

UptoapointLordCopper Sat 24-Aug-13 18:41:55

Hello all! Nothing useful to say except that I've been to Wales and back and somehow managed not to see a single abbey or castle ruins. Have seen LOTS of beaches though. smile

And I'm reading Rebus - Standing in another man's grave. So nice to see Rebus again. (Yes yes I know he's fictional.) Haven't thought about how he stacks up though. But plenty to think about in the Rebus books.

ModeratelyObvious Thu 19-Sep-13 23:52:04

Rebus, haven't read any. That's probably really bad, right?

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Fri 20-Sep-13 00:10:28

The Amelia Peabody books are great at first but about halfway through the series they turn more into parodies or caricatures of themselves, I thought.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 20-Sep-13 13:35:15

Rebus: there's only really Siobhan in most of the books. Standing in another man's grave has another high ranking female police officer. Rebus was told about this police officer, he said something about "him" and was told the police officer was female, he apologised for his mistake. The assumption was not OK, the reply was. Yes? As to the relationship between Siobhan and Rebus ... I like it that when he was warned not to be a "bad influence" he said that she was her own person and not to be thought of as a lackey. Hmm. I don't really know what to think about the Rebus books. But I love them.

Rebus is a lot like V I Washawski. Has anyone read the Sara Paretsky books?

TheDoctrineOfWho Sat 23-Nov-13 21:04:25

Just finished 'Conundrums for the Long Weekend' which is about the genesis of LPW and has a timeline of him/DLS/Britain at the end. Really interesting! Apparently the first third of 'Thrones, Dominations' was pretty much verbatim from DLS's manuscript, apart from excluding a discussion of LPW's sexuality (!) but the rest was JPW, including the murder itself. Looks like DLS started it as a musing on two different kinds of marriage, the Wimseys' one and the Harwells' one.

And they think that the car incident at the start of 'The Nine Tailors' was concurrent with Miss Climpson's seance work in 'Strong Poison'.

Lord Copper, I haven't read any Paretsky. Do you recommend them?

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Nov-13 21:36:06

Hello doctrine! Haven't looked here for a while!

Sara Paretsky is REALLY REALLY good. I've read Hard Time, and Hardball and Killing Orders. And will read more.

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Nov-13 21:37:23
TheDoctrineOfSanta Sun 29-Dec-13 20:08:22

New JPW Wimsey book out!

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