Category Archives: pg 67

Dorothy Sayers: The Vane Novels

Things have been quiet at Totally Austentatious because I have been following the love affair between Peter and Harriet. One might observe the romance has uncovered a few bodies along the way.

Image result for Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers

Dorothy Sayers

I am not in general a great fan of murder mysteries. However, if I was up a tree surrounded by wolves with beavers working away at the base, and I saw Lord Peter coming over the hill with trusty Bunter…I would cease to worry.

Dorothy Sayers is reputed to have fallen in love with her creation, Lord Peter Whimsey and written herself into the stories as his partner in crime solving. Through I am not convinced this was the case, there are parallels as Dorothy Sayers and Harriet Vane are both writers of murder mysteries, very well educated, and I would venture to say of the same temperament and opinions.

I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers 

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In the first novel of the Lord Peter and Harriet Vane stories; Harriet has been charged and may be hanged for murdering her ex lover. Peter, who falls in love with Harriet while hearing her cross examination, is convinced that she is innocent and is determined to save her life.

Pg 67.

Whimsey handed over his card, writing at the top, ‘in re R.U. Vane’, and added: “But is there a chance he will be back soon?”  “Oh, yes sir. Last time he wasn’t away more than a couple of days, and a merciful providence I am sure that was, with poor Mr.Boyes dying in that dreadful manner.” “Yes, indeed,” said Whimsey, delighted to find the subject introducing itself of its on accord. “That must have been a shocking upset to you all.” “Well, there” said the cook. “I don’t hardly like to think of it, even now. A gentleman dying in the house like that, and poisoned too, when one’s had the cooking of his dinner – it do bring it home to one, like.”

Comment: Always enjoy this one, particularly how Peter talks to Harriet laying his heart at her feet and offering to change his hair or do way with his monocle if it displeases her. Delightful conversations between the two characters. A great read!

Movie: Very good, I just love Edward Petherbridge as Peter!

On YouTube: Strong Poison 3 parts

Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers 

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Lord Peter frees Harriet and she leaves London to escape the press and most of all to think about Peter and his proposals. She doesn’t doesn’t trust his motives. She has been stung and is weary. While on a walking tour of the coast she finds a body on the shore. Peter hears about it and comes to help out. He anticipates as Harriet doesn’t, that she will need his assistance to solve the crime and stay on the right side of the media attention.

Pg 67.

“His throat was cut , Mrs Weldon” (Brutal Saxon monosyllables.) “Oh!” Mrs Weldon seedmed to shrink into a mere set of eyes and bones. “Yes – they said – they said – I couldn’t hear properly – I didn’t like to ask – and they all seemed so pleased about it.”  “I know,” said Harriet. “You, see – these newspaper men – it’s what they live by. They can’t help it. And they couldn’t possibly know that it meant anything to you.”

Comment: Poor Peter, he lays his heart at Harriets feet to be stomped on. He proves himself to be a true gentleman and gives her room to decide on their relationship. His only stipulation; that he may propose on special occasions, but she may disregard it if she wishes. He talks the most delightful piffle, and Harriet responds with wit and charm.

The Movie: Harriet Walter is a wonderful choice for Harriet Vane

On YouTube: Have his Carcase 4 Parts

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers 

Image result for Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers

Harriet retreats to Oxford, her Alma mater, to see old friends and do some research. During her visit she is asked to look into the activities of a Poison pen letter writer who has been tormenting the professors and students. Things escalate to vandalism, violence and almost murder. Harriet writes Peter for assistance, hoping he can recommend someone to help.

Pg 67.

“I thought you seemed a little stiff in your manner. Why on earth didn’t you say so before, instead of sitting there like a martyr and inveigling me into misjudging you?” “I don’t seem to do anythng right,” he said plaintively. “How did you do it?” “Fell off a wall in the most inartistic manner. I was in a bit of a hurry; there was a very plain-looking bloke on the other side with a gun. It wasn’t so much the wall, as the wheel-barrow at the bottom. And it isn’t really so much the ribs as the sticking plaster. It’s strapped as tight as hell and itches infernally.”

Comment: This novel is more of a mystery than a murder. Peter finally makes head way with Harriet, and convinces her that he is looking for an equal partner in life, that he values her straight forwardness and striving for truth. He surprises her at every turn. I don’t know it she really deserves him, but they finally figure everything out. Delightful!

Movies: Very good! Sadly none of the other stories were made into movies.

On YouTube: Gaudy Night 3 parts

Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers

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So Harriet and Peter finally find matrimonial bliss, retiring to the country for a romantic honeymoon, and another body shows up!

Pg 67.

He retired to the scullery, where Mrs. Ruddle, armed with a hand-bowl, was scooping boiling water from the copper into a large Bath-can. “You had better leave it to me, Mrs. Ruddle, to negotiate the baths round the turn in the stairs. You may follow me with the cans, if you please.” Returning thus processionally through the sitting-room he was relieved to see only Mr. Puffet’s ample base emerging from under the chimney-breast and to hear him utter loud groans and cries of self-encouragment which boomed hollow in the funnel of the brickwork. It was always pleasant to see a fellow creature toiling still harder than one’s self.

Comment: A lovely conclusion to the series, how else would Harriet and Peter honeymoon that with a body? I have to say this is my favourite!

Dorothy Sayers revisited Peter and Harriet one more time. She wrote a short story which included their children.

These stories found in Striding Folly by Dorothy Sayers

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These two short stories close round out the developement of the Whimsey family.

The first of their children is born in the story The Haunted Policeman. Truly delightful opening scene!

By the time of the short story Talboys, they have three sons:

Bredon Delagardie Peter Wimsey (born in October 1936), Roger Wimsey (born 1938), and Paul Wimsey (born 1940 or 1941). Peter and the boys solve a mystery.

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The Miracle that is Page 67!

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Many, many years ago, a Professor of Literature advised our class,

“Read page 67 of any book you plan to invest your time and money on”

Why you may ask?

Well this little tidbit of advice has saved me loads of time and money!

I can tell you in one minute if I am interested in any book!

By the time the author has written 67 pages of the book, their true voice emerges.

In just one paragraph, you get a feel for the book.

Can you see yourself identifying with the Authors world view and writing style?

Reading whichever page you choose to read, entirely up to you; is not about the content of the book, it’s about the spirit of the book and your reaction to that spirit.

For example:

Persuasion by Jane Austen pg 67

On one other question which perhaps her utmost wisdom might not have prevented, she was soon spared all suspense; for after Miss Musgroves had returned their visit at the Cottage, she had this spontaneous information from Mary: “Captain Wentworth is not very gallant by you Anne, though he was attentive to me. Henrietta asked him what he thought of you, when they went away; and he said, “You were so altered he should not have known you again.” Mary had no feelings to make her respect her sister’s in a common way; but she was perfectly unsuspicious of being inflicting any particular wound.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte pg 67

How we longed for the light and heat of a blazing fire when we got back! But to the little ones at least this was denied: each hearth in the schoolroom was immediately surrounded by a double row of great girls, and behind them the younger children crouched in groups, wrapping their starved arms in their pinafores.

 This is a particular favourite. A literary detective story. It tells about 2 literary researchers, what they believed happened, and then tells the story of the 2 authors and what really happened.

This is a particular favourite. A literary detective story. It tells about 2 literary researchers, what they believed happened, and then tells the story of the 2 authors and what really happened.

Possession by A.S. Byatt pg 67

And he laid before the tailor three things. The first was a little purse of soft leather, which clinked a little as he put it down. The second was a cooking pot, black outside, polished and gleaming inside, solid and commodious. And the third was a little glass key, wrought into fantastic fragile shape, and glittering with all the colours of the rainbow. And the tailor looked back at the watching animals for advice, and they all looked benignly back.

 I include this in the spirit of hearing a different sort of voice in the writing.

I include this in the spirit of hearing a different sort of voice in the writing.

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighierei pg 67

Perceiving us descend, they all stood still; and from the band three came forth with bows and javelins chosen first. And one of them cried from afar: “To what torment come ye, ye that descend the coast? Tell from thence: if not draw the bow.” My master said: “Our answer we will make to Chiron, there near at hand; unhappy thy will was always thus rash.”

None of these paragraphs tell anything useful about the books they are from, rather they show a little of the flavour of the writing.

If you want an outline of what the book is about; refer to the dust-cover or the back cover. 

So next time you are browsing for a book, choose a page and read the first paragraph.

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Best advice ever!

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