Aww that sounds super cute. I will have to check that out.
Literary Buffistas 3: Don't Parse the Blurb, Dear.
There's more to life than watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer! No. Really, there is! Honestly! Here's a place for Buffistas to come and discuss what it is they're reading, their favorite authors and poets. "Geez. Crack a book sometime."
Well, have finished Lord Peter. I thought I was reviewing the Queens of Crime but now I think I may be studying Gentlemen Detectives and will go back and read Poe and Louisa May Alcott and Wilkie Collins before thinking about Christie.
Anyway, the Wimsey books. First of all, the casual racist language is pretty painful. I kept being surprised by it popping up when I thought maybe there wouldn't be any more. Sigh. That was indeed what that red flag in the back of my brain was about, and perhaps I should have obeyed the warning, or bailed out early on, but this was A Project so I carried on.
Aside from that, which I had forgotten aside from the vague warning to myself, I had forgotten an awful lot. A few books I remembered a tiny bit of that I recognized when I read it again, but most of them I had no memory of whatsoever (including The Nine Tailors which I MUST have read because otherwise how would I know anything at all about ringing changes? But zero recognition while reading). To be fair, I had similarly forgotten a lot of Marsh, or thought that what I did remember came from unspecified Christie novels, so that may not signify anything other than my memory ain't great.
The mysteries are complicated and Sayers is really good with setting up a puzzle (the ciphers are particularly well handled - Peter and Harriet breaking the code in Have His Carcase is very entertaining both in demonstrating how that works and showcasing both of their characters and their relationship) but I prefer Marsh's general approach of having the revealed solution to the mystery actually be very simple and it was just a lot of misdirection that made it seem complicated, like a magic trick.
I was not nearly as fond of Peter and Harriet this time as I was on first read. Not sure if that is due to reading in my 50s vs as a teenager, or reading in the 21st century vs in the 80s, or what. I was still rooting for them, but found their manner of dealing with their problems and each other more frustrating than romantic.
Sayers did some interesting things stylistically which gave me the feeling that she was aiming for more literary cachet than Marsh and Allingham - a passage in second person, for example, and Busman's Honeymoon is very stagy (which is not surprising as it was a play before it was a novel but it reads almost like a farce in parts with people popping on and off stage with precise timing)
And I did go ahead and read Thrones and Dominions, the book that was started by Sayers and finished decades later by someone else, since I had read the Marsh book that was like that and also Cargo of Eagles that Allingham died while writing and her husband finished so consistency seemed to demand it. At least it avoided the racist language! But the mystery was not great and the characters do not feel quite right and I somehow got spoiled that as that series continues at some point Peter's brother and nephew both die and he's a Duke after all and I am super opposed to that development, so not much temptation to read further.
However, as not really wanting to recommend reading these as I am, I can't help but feel that an adaptation that modernized a la Elementary and really emphasized the PTSD and ADHD-like traits could be very good. Although how the whole aristocracy business would work I don't know. I would like to see an Alleyn adaptation that set each book in the year it was published, changing the costumes and set design and all as the series progressed, maybe even having the earliest in black and white, but keeping the core characters the same age since that is more or less how they are written. Like Batman. I would watch the hell out of that. But I am perhaps the only person in the world who wants that. The existing Campion adaptation with Peter Davison is quite good and I would only want some more of that, probably.
Thank you for attending tonight's symposium
How funny, I'm in the middle of rereading The Nine Tailors. I was reading some of the stuff about change-ringing to my husband, who thought it sounded bonkers. Which it does. But Gaudy Night is next, which is exciting. I think it's the clear peak of the Peter-and-Harriet books, and Harriet's whole journey, returning to the academic community and being among people with such dedication, is always very comforting to me.
Meant to say, my dream adaptation needs to hit hard on the guilt about helping to convict even guilty people. That’s vital.
Gaudy Night is another one that the only thing I remembered from it was a tiny scene and something I thought I remembered from it was not in it at all. Disconcerting.
I watched YouTube videos of change ringing trying to understand what the notation meant. I think it helped? I might look into it some more, I do like combinatorics in general. I’m also very curious about how East Anglia manages its wetlands these days.
Oh, and there are at least two TV adaptions of Lord Peter that I would like to see and judge but they appear to only be available on DVD for purchase and that seems like a big commitment
I don't remember them super well. The ones with Harriet have Harriet Walter, which is pretty great casting. But the adaptations, especially of Gaudy Night, weren't great.
This has a pretty good collection of scenes from Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, and Gaudy Night.
I remember seeing two different versions - years ago - on PBS and thinking one was acceptable and the other ... meh.
Thanks, Dana! What I have found is a single DVD with the three Harriet titles and other collections of more titles starring Ian Carmichael and if they were streaming I would be happy to rent them one at a time but buying DVDs, I don’t know.
I bet your local library might have copies of those dvds??
Also, brings up something I’ve been thinking about: how do you (or can you even) recommend something that includes things which were unremarkable at the time but which would never fly now? Not so much if they’re prominent/the focus of the book/movie, but if it’s one scene or character who is not main but is still....not ok. I was thinking in particular of like, 80s and 90s movies where gay stuff is made fun of or imitated or the brunt of a joke, or people with disabilities, or whatever, more so than racism, but that too—if it’s throughout, that you can’t just say “skip this book/scene”? Do you not recommend? Recommend but say “I’m aware X is in there and wanted to warn you and say I’m not recommending that part”?