Mary and Julie are two of the best-read people I know and I am definitely not. They have been shocked that I never read Sayers, but I’m not. I’m always reading something, but never as many books as they do or even as many as most of my other writer friends. In recent years I’ve focussed more on research books and, of course, friends’ books, especially Mary’s.
But I decided it was time to read Dorothy Sayers. Mary told me to start with Strong Poison, the book where Lord Peter Wimsey meets Harriet Vale and takes it upon himself to clear her of murder charges. I finished that one and am now into Gaudy Night, where Harriet returns to Oxford to try to discover who is the perpetrator of a persistent set of nasty pranks. Everyone is a suspect.
Sayers wrote mysteries, cozy mysteries, some would say. The mystery elements of the books do not draw me, though. As a romance writer, I’m more interested in the characters in books and in the relationships between them–the relationships and the emotions. The emotions are restrained in the Sayers books, although the depth of Wimsey’s feelings for Harriet are pretty clear (and cleverly depicted). Their romance interests me, but it, of course is secondary to the mystery, and I am unused to the hero and heroine being apart for…well…most of the book.
The pacing of these books is different than what I am accustomed to in today’s fiction. The pace is slow, unfolding very gradually, especially in Gaudy Night, the longer of the two books. If I was not hooked on the characters and the charm of Miss Sayers writing by reading Strong Poison first, I might have found this slow pace more frustrating. I do like Sayers’ discussion of women’s roles interspersed through Gaudy Night–and the vividness of her characters, restrained as they may be.
My local library had paperback copies of the Sayers’ books so I thought I’d save myself a little money and check them out. I found that I was so used to reading on my Kindle Fire that I broke down and bought the Kindle versions! So much for reading in a different fashion!
Have you read Dorothy Sayers? What do you think about the books?