Author(s): Dorothy L. SayersDownload
Lord Peter Wimsey and his bride, mystery writer Harriet Vane, start their honeymoon with murder. The former owner of Talboys estate is dead in the cellar with a misspelled “notise” to the milkman, not a spot of blood on his smashed skull, and £600 in his pocket.
Some Reviews: 826 in Goodreads.com
(Before I talk about the “book”, I think it is worth noting that the dramatised audiobook I listened to this morning is NOT the book, and should not really be included as an “edition” of the book. It is a BBC Radio 4 dramatised version that is only 150 minutes long, and reading some other people’s reviews I realise that it does NOT include certain aspects of the book at all.
I have set up dramatised versions where they did not exist but as I am not a librarian I do not have the “power” to split this version off from the paper or e-book reviews).
The cast of this dramatised version, are excellent, and reads like a who’s who of classic British actors from the 1970/80s, including of course the indomitable and ubiquitous Ian Carmichael, who to me is Lord Peter Wimsey, as he played the role in numerous TV episodes and radio plays.
The story (of this dramatisation) begins with Lord and Lady Peter (the ex Miss Vane) heading off to a cottage they have bought in the village where Harriet grew up. Of course for a private detective and a mystery writer nothing is ever going to go smoothly, and it doesn’t. So the honeymoon is abandoned in favour of detection.
It is an excellent story (as I’m sure is the book) with some believable characters, brought to my ear by some brilliant actors. Why oh why did I give all my mum’s Sayers books to charity, hey ho, rhetorical question, and years too late to do anything about it except buy them again.
So, story good, dramatisation excellent and a happy morning spent in the garden concentrating on my iPod ha ha.
I’m not reading these Sayers books in any kind of rational order. Oh, I am in love with this one. I know just enough of Sayers’ biography to appreciate why she would have written this. Up until the introduction of the body, it feels more like a Wodehouse, with a bit of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House thrown in. One doesn’t normally say of mysteries that they are sweet, but the author has done a fabulous job of showing two people who are in love but still awkward in their marriage. And Buntner’s affection for Wimsey is rather touching, in a paternal sort of way.
I like the unusual addition of finding out how the detectives in the case deal with the trial and all that afterwards. It makes for a strong and affecting ending.
This novel is really much more of a love story than a mystery, as Dorothy L Sayers herself acknowledged. But for readers who followed the story of Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane through the three previous novels which featured both characters, it is a most satisfying love story and a welcome culmination to the years of Peter’s patient courtship and Harriet’s determined resistance. Tbere’s enough of a mystery to make it worthy of being called a mystery novel, but no more than that. Apart from the love story and the mystery, Busman’s Honeymoon is an interesting reflection of the era in which it was written, with its depiction of English attitudes to class and race (not critical, but descriptive and not the less interesting for that). There’s a lot of French in it, which is ok for me because I am reasonably fluent in that language, but it must be a trial for readers who are not. I know how they feel, because there’s a bit of Latin in there as well, the meaning of which I can only guess at. (I have an old edition of Busman’s Honeymoon – probably printed in the 1970s – with no translations or notes: possibly more recent editions translate the bits which aren’t in English?) Anyway, even if it could be considered pretentious by today’s standards, I love the French and the Latin…and the poetry with which each chapter starts and which characters quote with abandon. They don’t write mysteries like this anymore, more’s the pity!
I can’t imagine reading Busman’s Honeymoon for the mystery. By this point, the mystery is decidedly secondary to the characters and their relationship — the pace is slow, and domestic details abound. I think we might learn more about Peter and Bunter than we do in any other book from how they behave in this one — but much as I love it, I can completely understand why people who don’t have any attachment to the characters (whether through not reading the previous books or just not caring for the character side of things) really dislike it.
For those who love the characters, this is lovely, tender, passionate, a little bit harrowing, and funny. Peter’s happiness is delightful, and so is Harriet’s ability to keep up with him.
And now I’ve realised that this is the last pure Sayers in my Wimsey reread. I have no doubt I’ll be starting back with Whose Body? again before long.