Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
on 9 December 2013
I know others disagree, but I found this a wonderful novel. It takes us on a magnificent journey from Lord Peter's emergence from the Great War (with shell shock) to the early 1950s, when he is a Duke with a perfect wife and three sons. In a delightfully gentle way it describes the changing fortunes of the English aristocracy over those turbulent thirty or so years. Lord Peter himself comes through it all pretty well unscathed (mostly due to the excellent Freddy and his sound financial advice). But other great families face financial crisis after financial crisis.
At last we are told the story of the Attenbury emerald (and the diamonds as well). Lord Peter's first case, often referred to in other books, is finally explained to us. But it is a case which goes on and on. Just as we think all is revealed about the original loss of the emerald, a few years later the diamonds disappear and Lord Peter works his magic again. Now, in the early 1950s, the emerald has again become a mystery. And this time there seem to be murders as well as fraud and theft. Lord Peter is called on to investigate.
I read this after (I should have read it before) reading The Late Scholar (the author's most recent Lord Peter Wimsey story). I very much enjoyed The Late Scholar, but I have to say that I think this book even better. I suppose it was the portrayal of the characters over such a long period which I found so compelling. True, it was not always easy to keep up with all those characters. The author is a little slap dash in her use of their titles. Why, for instance, does the Marchioness of Writtle, who began life as Lady Diana Abcock, suddenly revert, just as we have got used to her being a Marchioness, to being called Lady Diana? It is not as if she was another Lady Diana Cooper, who preferred to keep that title on the grounds that being a Duke's daughter was grander than being a Viscount's wife: being a Marchioness is definitely grander than being an Earl's daughter. But, never mind. The problems are not insuperable to the reader.
I do hope there will be more to come. There is certainly scope for building on the characters of Wimsey's sons and Bunter's son. I would love to see how the family copes with the rest of the 1950s and the 1960s.