I’ve read so much over the last few months and blogged so little I have a huge pile of books to write about. Four of those books are by the same author so it makes sense to write something about the writing in general, or the author…but who knows what I’ll write about until I start writing.
The character of Lord Peter Wimsey has always driven me round the bend. He’s a man with pots of money who pleases himself and does whatever he wants. And what he wants to do is to solve mysteries. He spends lots of money driving the countryside of England, or flying off to France, to solve mysteries of all kinds. This is at a time when very few people have a car, so it indicates he has enormous amounts of money. To me, this behaviour feels self-indulgent.
I’ve read the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries over many years and never changed my mind until this year. There were two things that changed my mind. The first was reading several books in a short time and understanding more of the character’s background. The second was reading Thrones, Dominations and the final paragraph of the Author’s Note at the end of the book.
Dorothy L. Sayers started writing Thrones, Dominations in the 1930s. She abandoned it and never returned. Sayers graduated from Oxford with first-class honours in 1915, she was one of the first to receive a degree a few years later when policies changed and women were finally awarded degrees. She spent many years as a copywriter. She is credited with the slogan ‘It pays to advertise!’ and you can see some of this work colouring the Lord Peter Wimsey books.
Jill Paton Walsh took up the baton many years later and the book was published in 1998 some forty one years after Sayers death. It seems that Walsh read Gaudy Night by Sayers in her teens (Sayers was still writing at that point) and this book inspired her to study at Oxford. She spent almost thirty years writing a children’s book every year, finally moving onto fiction for older people. Eventually writing a few detective novels before being recommended to finish Thrones, Dominations. I googled Paton just now and discovered she died in 2020 at the good age of 83.
It seems that Lord Peter Wimsey had been in the Great War, the war to end all wars, also called WWI. He came back with a loyal batman who remained as his butler till the end of the books and was his ‘partner-in-crime’ in that he had a good set of skills which complemented Lord Peter Wimsey’s. They solved the crimes together, sort of like Batman and Robin except without the fancy clothes, or Batman and Alfred. He came back with the view that he was very privileged and needed to use his money and privileged for the good of all who needed.
He has amassed an enormous amount of knowledge about all sort of topics that make a good detective. One of the books shows that he’s interested in figuring out how a person can be murdered and yet it’s impossible to see how the murder must have been carried out. Yes, that is how it was done in this book. But what makes a great detective is the ability to put all this information together and find the killer. But in The Nine Tailors, which I wrote about recently, he almost demonstrates how the murder happened using himself as the demo.
But we also find out that Lord Peter Wimsey finally marries Harriet Vane. What I like about this is she then gets to continue writing her own books. Lord Peter Wimsey fully encourages her to continue with her career, something that was virtually unheard of in those days. If your husband had money then you were expected to never work again.
I’m including a link for you to buy Thrones, Dominations if you want. It’s well worth buying. One of the things that made this title feel more real to me is that it was set in 1936 during the death of King George V. We get to feel how everyone is in mourning, I’ve seen and read a lot over the last couple of years of this era which means I actually know a little. There seems to have been a lot of information in this book that correlated with what I’ve learned.