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4.2 out of 5 stars
103
4.2 out of 5 stars
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It is 1936 and Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane have returned to London to set up home in the house furnished by Wimsey's mother - the Dowager Duchess. Events in the outer world feature in this story as George V dies and Edward VIII starts to show himself as a less than ideal King. Hitler is growing in power and Wimsey is off at a moment's notice to play his part in diplomatic negotiations.

Harriet is left behind to battle with her writing and then with her sister in law and her opinions on what are suitable activities for the new Lady Peter Wimsey. Then murder disrupts the Wimsey's social circle and Harriet and Peter are suddenly involved in detection again.

I remember reading this book when it first came out with some trepidation. I needn't have worried as it is well written and enjoyable reading. I did forget while I was reading who had written it and I enjoyed it for its own sake. I thought the authors dovetailed the real world events into the main characters' private lives extremely well and I got a real feel for the uncertain times of the 1930s. Even if you don't like sequels involving well known characters I would say this is worth reading.
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on 14 June 2017
Review? OK. I enjoyed this. A lot. End.
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on 25 August 2017
A very well written book a good story
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VINE VOICEon 6 June 2010
Like several of the other reviewers I believe I know which parts of this novel are by Sayers and which by Jill Paton Walsh. However, we all seem to be thinking of different bits. In any event, to my mind at least, this novel does not stoop to pastiche and the main clue that a modern sensibility has been involved is the fact the Jewish characters, admittedly peripheral, are treated with dignity rather than the casual anti-semitism that mars many of Sayers books. The book could never actually be mistaken for one completed in 1937 by Sayers unless one credits her with psychic powers regarding the forthcoming war and with a very modern interpretation of Edward VIII.

The plot, presumably essentially original, is closest to Five Red Herrings (A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery) of the previous Wimsey novels, although thankfully much less complicated. I concur that it's not one of her strongest - it's obvious who dun it and the necessary coincidences are a bit far fetched even for the genre - but it is easily good enough. In Busman's Honeymoon: A Love Story with Detective Interruptions (A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery) Sayers had developed a rather prurient interest in the Wimseys' marriage bed and that is carried on here. In fact the continuity over the relatively short period covered by Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsley Mystery (A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery) and Busman's Honeymoon and the events of this book is strongly maintained.
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on 16 April 2016
Very disappointing - slow and full of waffle. The whole plot could have made a short story, but there was not enough for a full length novel
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on 14 April 2017
I have no idea how much of Dorothy Sayers's draft work is incorporated into this book, but the finished product is very good. My only reservation is that the real action, i.e. the crime, occurs very late in the book, and while it is nice to have such a detailed picture of the Wimsey family, I doubt whether Dorothy Sayers would have written so much. However the story is superb, the background of the coming Abdication Crisis setting the scene of the period nicely and the crime details very much in the Sayers tradition. I have not yet read any more of Jill Paton Walsh's later books, but am keen to do so.
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Last year I, finally, read all of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries and enjoyed them thoroughly. In fact, I missed Wimsey so much that, when a book group I am a member of, suggested reading the novels written with the involvement of Jill Paton Walsh I was tempted. However, I had read the first Sophie Hannah, so-called, Poirot sequel, and been horribly disappointed. Reading friends assured me that these were much better and I am so glad I listened and gave this a try. It is a joy to have Lord (and now Lady) Peter Wimsey back in my life.

Dorothy L. Sayers worked on this novel for some months in 1936, but put it aside after the abdication crisis and did not return to it. The notes were found in 1957 and so Jill Paton Walsh did have an idea of the early chapters, which is probably why this feels so seamless. However, I also heard an interview with her, in which she said she tried to write as Sayers would, rather than in her own voice (her own crime novels are very good), and both her sympathy for the characters, and her respect for Wimsey’s loyal readers, shines through here.

We meet up with Peter and Harriet in France, where they run into Lord Peter’s uncle, Mr Paul Delgardie, and are introduced to another couple – Lawrence and Rosamund Harwell. Rosamund’s father had been imprisoned for fraud and she had been forced to find work as a mannequin, until rescued by the besotted, and wealthy, Lawrence. The couple were known for their intense love for each other, while it is clear that others are not quite so sure to make of Peter and Harriet’s marriage. Peter’s mother, the delightful Dowager Duchess, is obviously thrilled that her favourite is happy and adores Harriet. Meanwhile, the Duke of Denver is secretly happy and the icy Helen pours disapproval.

It is 1936 and war clouds are approaching, while the country is aware of the abdication crisis also looming. As Peter and Harriet settle into life in London, they find they keep bumping into either Lawrence or Rosamund Harwell. Lawrence is heavily involved in the theatre, while his bored, beautiful wife, has her portrait painted by Gaston Chaparelle (who Harriet is also sitting for) and encourages the poet and playwright, Claude Amery, in his attentions. When there is a murder, Lord Peter sets out to investigate.

I really enjoyed the mystery element in this novel, as well as the historical context and the continuing relationship between Peter and Harriet. There is a lot about the meaning of marriage, which continues themes in earlier novels; plus Walsh has a little fun inventing characters of her own. I missed the constant quotations and thought that Paton did take some liberties with how the aristocracy treated their servants. However, obviously, this book historically goes further than previous novels and, obviously, Harriet was not used to that kind of lifestyle. Overall, I really enjoyed it and that, as a reader, is what really counts. I look forward to reading on and feel happy I tried out these sequels for myself.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 December 2012
I read a recommendation of Paton Walsh's Wimsey novels and decided to give them a try because I was having difficulty finding something new to read. I am a huge fan of Sayers work so I was prepared to abandon this book if it jarred. It did not. I very much enjoyed this book and the other two and I'm sorry there are not more. I love the depiction of Wimsey in his marriage and the plots hold up too. There's more of a modern tone in these books than in the originals but I can forgive that.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 April 2011
The book starts sluggishly and I wondered when the action would get going, but once the author had got all her characters in place the story took off. As befits classic crime fiction the murder is elaborately constructed. I'd read the The Attenbury Emeralds before Thrones, Dominations , which is the wrong way round chronologically as the latter is set in abut 20 years earlier in Lord Peter and Harriet's marriage. I think that the author improved her emulation of Dorothy L Sayers' style in the later book, though in Thrones she does a good job of mimicking DLS's endless insertions of quotes, which I've always found irritating. By modern standards the social divide described, between the servant and upper classes, appears odious, but realistic.
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on 14 August 2017
Jill Payton Walsh's work cannot, of course, compare in style or imagination with a genuine Dorothy L. Sayers work but once has read all the Peter Wimsey books many times it becomes a very acceptable addition to what one has available.
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