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Thrones, Dominations Paperback – Sep 17 1998
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Asked by her new husband, the gentleman detective Lord Peter Wimsey, why she is having trouble writing her latest mystery novel, Harriet Vane explains, "When I needed the money, it justified itself. It was a job of work, and I did it as well as I could, and that was that. But now, you see, it has no necessity except itself. And, of course, it's hard; it's always been hard, and it's getting harder. So when I'm stuck I think, this isn't my livelihood, and it isn't great art, it's only detective stories. You read them and write them for fun." Is this a clue to the mystery of why Dorothy L. Sayers put aside her 13th full-length Lord Peter novel in 1938 and never finished it? She had made lots of money, and was much more interested in translating Dante and writing about religion. Or is it another excellent novelist, Jill Paton Walsh, speculating--in a perfect imitation of Sayers's voice--on what might have happened? Walsh was invited by the estate of Sayers's illegitimate son, Anthony Fleming, to finish Thrones, Dominations. She has done a splendid job, certain to please Sayers loyalists on the "dorothyl" listserv as well as those new to the Wimsey canon. Lord Peter has been made much more human and interesting by marriage; Harriet is a wise and acerbic companion; and the story, about the murders of two beautiful young women involved with a theatrical producer, is full of twists and connivance. There's also a fascinating subplot involving the soon-to-abdicate King Edward VII and a country on the brink of World War II. Earlier Wimseys in paperback include The Five Red Herrings, Gaudy Night, Murder Must Advertise, and Unnatural Death. Books in print by Walsh include a mystery called A Piece of Justice and a novel, The Serpentine Cave. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
After Sayers married off Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane in Busman's Honeymoon (1937), she devoted herself to translating Dante's Divine Comedy. A few short stories later appeared, noting the arrival of three Wimsey sons, and there was a rumor that suggested Sayers had another Wimsey novel in the works. Forty years after Sayers's death, that book has been triumphantly completed by British novelist Walsh (a 1994 Booker Prize finalist for Knowledge of Angels), following the original outline. If it is true that Sayers wrote the beginning, Walsh has done her predecessor a great service. Once the cast and context are established through some long exposition, the pace picks up, particularly after theatrical producer Laurence Harwell, an acquaintance of the Wimseys, discovers his cherished wife Rosamund strangled. As the nation mourns the death of King George V, upper-class women purchase black wardrobes, some of which are augmented with stylish white collars, an element which later figures as a clue. Germany invades the Rhineland. Uncrowned, Edward VIII continues to socialize with Nazis and to rendezvous with Mrs. Simpson. Lord Peter is recruited to persuade Edward to accept his responsibilities, but abdication is inevitable. The mystery involves two cases of blackmail as well as a second murder. Despite a large cast of suspects, ranging from two inept felons to a society portrait painter, every lead seems to come to a dead end. Typical of Sayers's novels, the solution derives from coincidences and some awkward plot devices. But readers have always turned to her mysteries for other reasons, such as the way Peter and Harriet settle the tumult four months of marriage has visited upon them. Harriet uncomfortably accepts her position as Lady Peter, with money and servants, while maintaining her independent identity as a mystery writer. In fact, her discussion of a plot problem with Peter helps him break a suspect's alibi. Sayers fans will relish the cooperative sleuthing of Peter, Harriet and the self-effacing Bunter as Walsh deftly captures and subtley updates the spirit of the series, endowing the iconic characters with additional depth and complexity.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In Thrones, Dominations, however, not only Wimsey, but also Harriet, Parker, and Bunter are sad, pale imitations of themselves. There's even one scene in which Parker says something abysmal like, "I don't mind if Bunter takes photgraphs. I have seen Bunter's photographs before. They are of a good quality. He knows better than to mess up the evidence, too." Who ARE these people? It's true that Wimsey and Harriet still quote various texts at one another. In the grand style of an ill-begot sequel, however, the majority of the quoting is from Sayer's previous works - half the sentences seem to start with "Remember that time when we...?". There's a very obnoxious mix of constant reference to Sayers' novels, a desire to wrap up all the "loose ends" in them, and complete lack of any resemblence to them.
More upsetting, however, than the problems with style and characterization, is the heavy-handed way in which Walsh handles the moral and ethical dilemmas Sayers carefully developed over the whole of the LPW series. The worst error is perhaps made just in the "wrapping-up" tone that permeates the novel - as if Lord Peter and Harriet had reached their pinnacle, and would not grow any farther. One equally striking, however, is Walsh's incapacity to deal delicately and knowledgeably with the notion of nobility.
Thrones, Dominations may be a decent book. It's not an especially intricate or interesting mystery story - it has none of the technical descriptions and details that characterize Sayers' books. But it's certainly not a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery.
JPW took on quite a challenge knowing there would be scores of DS aficionados for whom even DS coming back as JPW's muse would be insufficient. Thanks to both writers and an especial brava to JPW who fearlessly breathed life into Peter and Harriet once more.
I loved the struggle of the newlyweds designing their own sort of loving relationship. Those reviewers who felt this was too modern might enjoy reading the works of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Margaret Fuller, and many others who wrote about male-female relations. Dorothy Sayers is likely to have been exposed to such philosophy since women's suffrage was a critical issue on both sides of the Atlantic. Harriet Vane, one may be certain, would have spent time considering human rights without being a novel character for her times.
Most recent customer reviews
Thrones, Dominations is an excellent read and with the small exception of some grammatical conventions that are modern and not from Sayers' time, it reads like a dream. Read morePublished on Sept. 22 2012 by Dorothy L. Sayers
No, sorry, if you know Sayers well, you definitely know where Walsh starts off.
All the same it's a nice read, and the Sayers part is, as always, worth it.
I was amazed at all the awful reviews, because I LOVED this book. Dorothy Sayers is one of my all-time favorite authors and of course it would be impossible to write exactly like... Read morePublished on March 25 2002
Commits the unpardonable (and almost impossible) sin of making Peter Wimsey boring.Published on Jan. 31 2002 by Jonathan A. Turner
As you must have gathered from other reviews, this is an enjoyable book in the Lord Peter Whimsey tradition. Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2001
Having read some, not all, of the singular Dorothy Sayers, and having marveled at the word craft of Jill Paton Walsh (The Emperor's Winding Sheet) I had a spasm of impulsive... Read morePublished on May 6 2001
I have read Busman's Honeymoon and most of the other Sayers novels more times than I can remember. I love her style, her humor, her ability to entertain and her ability to use the... Read morePublished on Oct. 7 2000 by Gray