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review 2020-03-15 13:06
Whose Body? - Notes on a Re-read
Whose Body? (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #1) - Dorothy L. Sayers

LoL. This book was so much better on the re-read. Whose Body? was still a far cry from the quality of the rest of the series, but knowing the characters better from the other books gives this story so much more life and depth. 

 

I may have laughed out loud when Peter argued with his brother about Peter's hobby of sleuthing:

‘I do wish you’d keep out of the police courts,’ grumbled the Duke. ‘It makes it so dashed awkward for me, havin’ a brother makin’ himself conspicuous.’

‘Sorry, Gerald,’ said the other, ‘I know I’m a beastly blot on the ’scutcheon.’

‘Why can’t you marry and settle down and live quietly, doin’ something useful?’ said the Duke, unappeased.

‘Because that was a wash-out, as you perfectly well know,’ said Peter. ‘Besides,’ he added cheerfully, ‘I’m bein’ no end useful. You may come to want me your-self; you never know. When anybody comes blackmailin’ you, Gerald, or your first deserted wife turns up unexpectedly from the West Indies, you’ll realise the pull of havin’ a private detective in the family. “Delicate private business arranged with tact and discretion. Investigations undertaken. Divorce evidence a speciality. Every guarantee!” Come, now.’

‘Ass!’ said Lord Denver, throwing the newspaper violently into his armchair.

Hehe. Those of you know, will know. But this made a lot more sense on re-reading. 

I also enjoyed Peter's relationships with all of the other main characters much more because of knowing how these will develop.

 

It is such a strange first novel for a series, tho. There is a lot more of the feel of a Stevenson story to this than there is of Conan Doyle. This is changed in the later books, of course, but on the re-read I was reminded of a particular Stevenson short story (to name it would be a spoiler). 

 

Still, I really liked re-reading this, and would rate the book much higher if the onslaught of Wimsey (which is toned down in the books that follow) weren't such a distraction from the mystery and hadn't, after my first encounter with this book, made me put off reading the second for so long. 

 

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text 2020-03-14 20:16
Comfort Reading
Whose Body? (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #1) - Dorothy L. Sayers

This is a re-read.

I did not enjoy this first Wimsey novel when I first read it. However, I loved every book that followed. Well, almost: Five Red Herrings was rubbish. 

Still, I love the Wimsey novels, and I long wanted to re-read the first one. 

 

I think now is the time to do it. 

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text 2019-11-30 14:57
24 Festive Tasks: Door 10 - Russian Mothers’ Day: Task 2
A Scandal in Bohemia (Penguin Readers (Graded Readers)) - Arthur C Conan Doyle
The Adventure of the Illustrious Client (annotated) - Arthur Conan Doyle
Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett
The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Prince and the Pauper - Mark Twain,Everett Emerson
The Horse and His Boy - C.S. Lewis,Alex Jennings
Kill the Queen - Jennifer Estep
As You Like It - William Shakespeare
Have His Carcase (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #7) - Dorothy L. Sayers
The Man in the Iron Mask - David Coward,Alexandre Dumas

I frankly think most of the better-known real life stories about such "moonlightings" are unproven myths, so I'm going to keep it straight to fiction:

 

1. Arthur Conan Doyle: A Scandal in Bohemia and The Illustrious Client

Representatives of the British government and nobility ordinarily don't have a problem showing up in Holmes's rooms in their own person, but when it comes to royalty, things are different: The King of Bohemia initially shows up pretending to be a certain Count Von Kramm (OK, still nobility, but from a hereditary king's perspective, almost as lowly as a commoner); and while we never actually learn the identity of the "illustrious client" sending an emissary to Holmes in the other story, Watson implies at the end that the client in question was none other than King Edward VII.

 

2. Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters

A switcheroo turning a prince into an actor and, eventually, the Duke's fool into the new ruler.  Also one of the funniest books in the entire Discworld series (and a brilliant spoof on Shakespeare's Macbeth and Hamlet).

 

3. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings

Aragorn, rightful heir to the throne of Gondor, bides his time as a ranger for the better part of the trilogy.

 

4. Mark Twain: The Prince and the Pauper

Henry VIII's son, Prince Edward VI, and a young boy named Tom Canty switch places for a while, and the experience of being exposed to Tom's miserable life and the brutality of his alcoholic father has (as Twain would have it) a salutary effect on Edward's understanding of class issues and sense of justice, once he is crowned king.

 

5. C.S. Lewis: The Horse and His Boy

The titular "Boy" is Shasta, who has grown up as a fisherman's son, but after escaping from his ruffian adoptive father and numerous subsequent adventures is eventually revealed as the son and heir to the king of one of Narnia's neighboring countries.

 

6. Jennifer Estep: Kill the Queen

Evil princess massacres her mother (the queen) and her entire court; thus her "poor cousin" (who is actually next in line for the throne) hides with a band of gladiators, learns to fight, and eventually faces down the evil princess to take her throne for herself.

 

7. William Shakespeare: As You Like It, Pericles, The Winter's Tale, and Cymbeline

In As You Like It, Rosalind, the exiled daughter of the regining duke (Duke Senior) masquerades as a page for the better part of the play.

In Pericles, the titular Prince of Tyre's daughter Marina is kidnapped and sold to the owners of a brothel (where she manages to keep her virginity by lecturing the customers on their sinful ways ... sigh.  Really, Will?)

In The Winter's Tale, the Sicilian royal couple's daughter Perdita is raised by a shepherd who has found her bundled up as a baby after she had been abducted from the palace.

In Cymbeline, the eponymous king's daughter Imogen also disguises as a page at one point.

 

Honorary mentions:

1. Dorothy L. Sayers: Have His Carcase

A commoner is bamboozled into falsely believing himself a member of the House of Romanov.

2. Alexandre Dumas: The Man in the Iron Mask; and Anthony Hope: The Prisoner of Zenda

The rightful heir to the throne is kidnapped and replaced by a doppelgänger (but the kidnapped royal is not passed off as a commoner).

3. Roman Holiday (movie)

I'm not much into romance, but Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck are such a treat they just have to make an appearance on this list.

 

(Task: Towards the end of the 17th century, there was a Russian apprentice carpenter and shipwright going by the name Peter Mikhailov in the Dutch town of Zaandam (and later in Amsterdam), who eventually turned out to be none other than Tsar Peter the Great, whose great interest in the craft would become pivotal to his programs for the build-up of the Russian navy and naval commerce.

So: Tell us about a favorite book, either nonfiction history (demonstrably true facts, please, no conspiracy theories or unproven conjecture) or fictionall genres, not limited to historical fiction –, dealing with a member of royalty “moonlighting” as a commoner.)

 

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text 2019-10-13 22:50
Reading progress update: I've read 398 out of 398 pages.
Busman's Honeymoon (Lord Peter Wimsey, #13) - Dorothy L. Sayers

What can I say?

I loved the book.

And I loved finishing this year's Halloween Bingo reads on such a high note. 

 

 

And now I shall go wallow in the inevitable book & series hangover...

 

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text 2019-10-13 21:08
Reading progress update: I've read 317 out of 398 pages.
Busman's Honeymoon (Lord Peter Wimsey, #13) - Dorothy L. Sayers

Right, so the latest revelations make me suspect that there will be quite a serious conclusion to this. Not that I mind. If anything, I absolutely adore how Sayers manages to balance serious discourse with ... piffle. 

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