Wealhtheow's Reviews > Lord Peter

Lord Peter by Dorothy L. Sayers
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's review
Jun 27, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: battle-of-wits
Read in May, 2006 , read count: 2

Read these AFTER reading at least the first Lord Peter Wimsey novel. My review when I first read them was this: "I read about a third of these, but couldn't bear to slog through the rest. Several authors I love (cough, copperbadge) have mentioned Sayers, and I'm a sucker for urbane fops who are secretly quite intelligent indeed (if you haven't read The Scarlet Pimpernel yet, now is the time). And yet, I just disliked Lord Peter Wimsey. He's so pretty and witty, and everyone else is so foolish and self-absorbed. There's a great deal of disturbing classism. Even worse, the mysteries are unsolvable by the reader--only Wimsey has all the facts, so it's hard to be impressed when he pulls solutions out of thin air. Bah!"
But after being properly introduced to him in Whose Body, I love Peter and I love any Sayers story.

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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I want to go back to Sayers, I'm just having trouble squaring it with my conscience after all the icky Jewish stereotype stuff that made me feel all icky reading it when I read Whose Body. But I did appreciate the humor and the characterization... Its just making me feel bad that I want to read it again.

Wealhtheow You're totally right--Sayers does have a tendency to get caught in sketchy stereotyping. It's part and parcel of her capturing so delicately and precisely a very specific zeitgeist: that weird, uncomfortable period in Britain between world wars. She explores a lot of class and gender dynamics--how they're changing, who's changing them--but isn't particularly enlightened in regards to ethnicity.

Wealhtheow I'm always surprised at how wide-spread and accepted anti-semitism was in the "Allied" countries. If you're interested in the time period and subject, I recommend Jo Walton's Farthing. It's a hard book to read, but very good.

message 4: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Yeah, I've noticed weird anti-Semitism (and general anti-foreign attiudes) in a couple of British authors who were writing in the early 20th century, especially those from the upper classes. (Such as Georgette Heyer). Its a very odd phenomenon. Thank you for the recommendation, that one is actually already on my list. I think I grabbed it off your shelves, actually.

I don't know if I can read another Sayers, but I might give it a try later on when the icky feeling I had from reading it last year fades somewhat. Maybe.

Wealhtheow If you have such dubious feelings about Sayers, I'd recommend skipping the next few Peter books. Possibly start with Strong Poison. It is the introduction of one of my very favorite heroines, Harriet Vane. She wrote a murder mystery involving arsenic, bought arsenic "for research," and then her live-in lover (shocking!) dies of arsenic poisoning. She is promptly arrested for his murder.
Another great Lord Peter mystery is Murder Must Advertise, in which he goes undercover and (gasp!) works for a living. I think it's particularly good because it's grounded by the strictures of actual day-to-day work. (Plus, 30s advertising was hilarious.)

All this to say, it's worth it to read one more Sayers novel, because her last two novels are absolutely incandescently fantastic.

message 6: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Strong Poison is the one I had already bought when I enjoyed the first half of Whose Body so much, so awesome! I'm glad that that's a good one to read. It's already at my shelf and I keep looking at it deciding whether or not to pick it up. I'm excited to hear about a strong female stepping onto the scene!

Wealhtheow Oh, Gaudy Night is definitely better than everything that came before it. I recommend Strong Poison first only because I feel it's important to know how Peter and Harriet meet. Plus, the slow progression of their relationship is just fascinating to watch--I don't want to cheat anyone out of reading the five books or whatever it took them to finally get together!

I don't know why the prejudice some authors exhibit really bothers me, and some doesn't. There are definitely authors I won't read--and others, patently equally bigoted, I just take it as a character flaw/their society, and move on.

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