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A Presumption of Death (Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane) Paperback – November 27, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I haven't read "A Presumption of Death," but rather listened to the unabridged CDs read by Edward Petherbridge (a wonderful reading). I was delighted to find that at last Walsh seems to have captured Sayers. Indeed, she seems almost to be channeling Sayers. Time after time I found myself saying, "Yes, that's how Sayers would have written that sentence. That's where the plot would have gone." I felt like Walsh had actually bothered to READ Sayers' other books at last. Of course, this doesn't read like the early Wimsey novels, but it does read like a logical extension of "Busman's Honeymoon," with less detecting and more relationship and family matters. Walsh does an especially nice job capturing the Duke of Denver, the Duchess, and the Dowager Duchess. If you couldn't stand "Thrones, Dominations" but love Sayers, do give this one a try. And if you loved Petherbridge as the ultimate Wimsey on TV and lament his passing, do have a listen to his reading of this. It's a treat.
That's a wonderful little detail, and I love hearing stuff like that. But unfortunately for me as a Lord Peter Wimsey fan, it seems that Walsh's identification with Harriet means that Lord Peter is being winnowed out of her version of Sayers's stories almost completely.
So once again, as with "Thrones, Dominations," we have a solid, competently written book that doesn't feel much like part of the "Lord Peter" series except in name only. Most of the book takes place in WWII England, at Talboys (Harriet's childhood home, and the setting of "Busman's Honeymoon"), and Peter is absent for most of the book, off on mysterious wartime missions.
I really felt like this Harriet-centric narrative device was a mistake. We're left with Harriet's rather straightforward, plainer personality, and without even a little of the Wimsey sparkle, the book drags for long sections. The only relief is a surprisingly enjoyable portrait of Bunter, whose character is believably expanded and who is one of the book's bright spots. But nobody else really feels like themselves. Harriet is more humorless than ever, Kirk and Twitterton are both rather grim and seem to return just for fan-service (and they're completely unlike their "Busman's Honeymoon" selves).Read more ›
That particular murder is the epicenter around which Jill Paton Walsh builds her tale. She uses the "Wimsey Papers", a collection of works that Dorothy L. Sayers had published in The Spectator in the 1930s and 1940s. These papers comprise a series of letters written by the Wimsey family to each other and to friends. They become the voices of the characters, both familiar and new, that Sayers wrote about. Walsh comments: "In A PRESUMPTION OF DEATH all I had to use were propaganda letters, and so I had a completely free hand with the plot."
To recreate Harriet Vane in A PRESUMPTION OF DEATH, Walsh says, " � [Sayers] didn't exactly promote Harriet, who is not, by any means, an idealized character. Just compare her with Peter. Look how grumpy she is, how bad-tempered, how sometimes cool she is. She's not beautiful, and has a hard, chilly-eyed view of life. And that's what gives her [a] convincing quality.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I usually read Peter Wimsey novels for the joy of watching Lord Peter at work. But with that Worthy out of the picture on a secret mission for a large portion of the book, I found... Read morePublished 4 days ago by SDW
Loved the book! After finishing Busman's Honeymoon, the final book in the Lord Peter Wimsey series written by Dorothy Sayers, it was a pleasure to find that Jill Paton Walsh has... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Pat
I am a big fan of Lord Peter, I am a bigger fan of Harriet Vane! This book tells a very good tale of what it was like in early WWII England and a splendid love affair between two... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Wijit
Walsh based this book on letters Sayers published during the war purporting to be from her characters in the Lord Peter Whimsy series. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Aquila
There is much to argue against if you've read all the Wimsey novels (I have, more than a few times), but I think these (Ms. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dee Dee Acosta
I've loved Dorothy L. Sayers' intelligently written mystery novels for decades. They're always fun to read. Read morePublished 4 months ago by I. J. Black
Good continuation of the Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane stories. Walsh brings back some beloved characters from "Busman's Honeymoon" and gives them a little happier... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Lisa in Los Angeles
Ms. Walsh does a wonderful job revisiting the tumultuous WWII period and how it affects the Wimsey family. Read morePublished 5 months ago by JKom