Sunday, June 26, 2011

Unsatisfying reading

I spent the weekend reading. It seems ages now since I watched a film. My first book was, frankly, irritating - as I suspected it might be so really, I don't know why I bothered. Though I'm a huge fan of thirties and forties mysteries, I've never really been a huge fan of Dorothy Sayers. Her central character, Lord Peter Wimsey is a pompous, elitist, show off. I do not like him. Miss Sayers appears to be in love with him. A colleague at work assured me that the new books in the series, written by Jill Paton Walsh, were rather good. To my regret, I succumbed. Thrones, dominations is irritating. Peter Wimsey and his wife spend far too long agonizing over their feelings. When their not quoting John Donne. Still I persevered. Presumed dead is set during 1942, so I was feeling quite hopeful. I do suspect that Walsh is aware of the more irritating traits of her characters as it appears she's made an effort to tone them down (whether or not you feel this is appropriately true to the original books is another matter). Thankfully, Peter Wimsey is absent from the beginning of the book, the sleuthing being undertaken by Harriet, Wimsey's wife. I didn't mind this part. But then Walsh has missed the mark in her depiction of war time England. There are shades of The man who knew too much that really just appear as lack of originality. Much is made of the undervaluation of women's work, then the independent actions of Harriet are completely eclipsed by Wimsey's return. The wealthy Wimsey's are continually shown to be buying under the counter - which wasn't funny, but something to be resented. When Wimsey makes reference to his family about the coding work at Bletchley Park, this was just too much for me - first of all he would never have known about it, secondly, he would never have mentioned it. Grrr. It was a bit like a theme park version of the war. Which is no matter if what we're here for is a good old fashioned mystery. But we don't get that either. It seems Walsh was having so much fun with her 1940s window dressing that she lost interest in it. And so did I.


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4 comments:

allaboutwarmovies said...

I'm not sure if you care for readalongs but I just thought I might let you know that I'm hosting a Literature and War Readalong on my book blog http://beautyisasleepingcat.wordpress.com.
We read 4 novels about WWI first and have now moved on to WWII (4 novels), then 2 novels on Vietnam and then 2 on the American Civil war.
Should I go on doing another one next year I'd be happy for Australian suggestions.

Curvy Kitty said...

That sounds fantastic! I'll certainly be joining in. Will think about Australian works. Maybe Come in Spinner? I've not read it but i'll investigate.

Curvy Kitty said...

CIS is waaaay too long. I suggest The middle parts of fortune by Frederic Manning. WW1.

allaboutwarmovies said...

Thanks! I wouldn't start part two before next year though and maybe not very month. My August choice has 700 pages. I was just thinking since Australia produced some of the bets war movies it would be great if the re were novels that are equally good.