Tag Archives: Reviews

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 

Image result for Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers

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 

Image result for Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers

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

Image result for Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers

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

Image result for The Haunted Policeman by Dorothy Sayers

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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Filed under Book Reviews, Dorothy Sayers, Films, It's a Mystery, pg 67

For the love of Austen!

This artical originated January 11,2014, on my other blog Kittens with Mittens.

I soon realized that I needed a Literary blog too, so Totally Austentatious was born.

This is a reediting of that origional post.

At this point I really have to thank you, my family and my friends, who put up, ad nauseam with my reading ramblings. What can I say, love me love my books!

Enjoy!

Image result for jane austen portrait

Yes, I have a thing for Austen. I didn’t realize how extensive it was till I started digging through my collection. 

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It has even snuck into my knitting. On my to due list Darcy Shawlette,

The Dashwood Sisters Shawl and the Miss Woodhouse Shawlette

I have the famous novels… a few copies of each

The Complete Novels of Jane Austen: Seven Great English Classics (sc)

The Complete Works of Jane Austen (2 ebooks)

Short fiction

Unfinished fiction

and ebook copies too, because you can’t go anywhere without Jane!

All of the above on Kobo Glow, Kobo Arc and Sony Ereader. 

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Films, Audio tapes, and Ebooks 

Death at Pemberley by PD. James (audio)

Pride and Prejudice (DVD 1995) A&E starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle (the best!)

And the more recent Pride and Prejudice (2005) 

and an older BBC version. 

Image result for pride and prejudice movie

Somewhere I have Sir Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, delightful!

Bride and Prejudice (2004) Bollywood musical (enjoyed it)

Persuasion (1995) – my all time fav! 

Sense and Sensibility (2008 – VHS) Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant (the best)

Emma (1996) Kate Beckinsale (best of the two)

though I won both…

Emma (1996) Gwynth Paltrow (not as good) but amusing.

I also indulge in continuations of her novels and there are a lot out there.

My favourites are by Linda Berdoll

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*Mr Darcy takes a Wife and *Darcy and Elizabeth

My comment: Miss Austen, being as single lady of her age and time, probably would have been shocked by this more realistic view of married life. This is the Darcy and Lizzie you imagine as a married couple! I am so fond of these books, originally owned them in trade paperback, I also purchased them in ebook! 

Some other  delightful series

 Sharon Lathan has also written a rather good series related to Pride and Prejudice. This series sounds more Austen. 

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  1. *Mr & Mrs Fitzwiliam Darcy: Two shall become one
  2. *Loving Mr. Darcy
  3. My Dearest Mr. Darcy
  4. In the Arms of Mr. Darcy
  5. Miss Darcy falls in Love
  6. The Trouble with Mr. Darcy
  7. The Passions of Mr. Darcy (the story of Darcy’s Uncle George)
  8. A Darcy Christmas (Don’t have)

I have also been collecting the Pemberley Chronicals by Rebecca Ann Collins

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  1. *The Pemberley Chronicles
  2. *The Women of Pemberley
  3. Netherfield Park Revisited
  4. The Ladies of Longbourn
  5. Mr Darcy’s Daughter
  6. My Cousin Caroline
  7. Postscript from Pemberley (don’t have)
  8. Recollections of Rosings (don’t have)
  9. A Woman of Influence
  10. The Legacy of Pemberley (don’t have)

I like this series but Austen’s voice is missing.

Rebecca Ann Collins has also written Expectations of Happiness a follow-up to Sense and Sensibility

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Found these in ebook format

Georgiana’s Diary by Anna Elliott eb. a free ebook 

and Colonel Brandon’s Diary by Amanda Grange eb. preview I am seriously thinking about purchasing this one. Has anyone read it?

Some other recent finds: 

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I also have a collection of short stories *Dancing with Mr. Darcy

How about from Darcy’s point of view

*Darcy’s Passion by Regina Jeffers – Don’t let the title through you it isn’t bad 

*Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion by Regina Jeffers  sc.- Rather good till just before the end. Spys and nonsence creeps in. 4/5th of the book is worth reading.

How about letters, and Diaries?

Austen began writing in this form then moved to the more conventional novel format. I enjoy epistolary books (letters) and Diaries.

*Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Maya Slater sc. (rather good)

*Dear Mr Darcy by Amanda Grange tpb (very good)

*Letters from Pemberley by Jane Dawkins tpb (Excellent series of letters between the characters)

Looking forward to reading these recent finds :0) 

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Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister by C. Allyn Pierson tpb.

Only Mr. Darcy will do by Kara Louise tpb.

The Truth About Mr. Darcy by Susan Adriani tpb.

and my DH found this in the last copy section of Chapters :0)

*Darcy and Fitzwilliam by Karen V. Wasylowski – delightful and unusual take on Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam’s relationship. Totally recommend this slightly off beat book. :0) sc.

Other recent purchases, as yet unread 

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The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle – I have since read, not how I saw Mary developing but good.

The Bad Miss Bennet by Jean Burnett (Lydia)

 There are reference books and biographies as well.

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Jane Austen: A life by Claire Tomlin tbp

A Brief Guide to Jane Austen: The Life and Times of the World’s Favourite Author by Charles Jennings sc.

*The Complete World of Jane Austen by Lauren Nixon hc.

(total disappointment, waste your money on this one)

My family and friends keep me well supplied, and DH & DS but up with my Austen observations.

Just for fun go check out The Republic of Pemberley website for everything Austen. DH found it while surfing the net…Isn’t he awesome! (my Colonel Brandon)

Note: * = have read, sc.= softcover, tpb. = trade paperback, hc. = hardcover, eb. = ebook

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Filed under Austen in variations, Book Reviews, Emma, Films, Jane Austen, Lady Susan / The Watsons / Juvenalia, Northanger Abbey, Persausion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensiblity

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet by Pamela Mingle

A good read, it's interesting to see Mary Bennet's view of things.

Comment: I wouldn’t call this the best literary work I’ve ever read. Having said this I did enjoy it. This is a great beach book, or cottage weekend book. I enjoyed  Mary Bennets view of her family, and her development. Not exactly what I would have predicted, but I actually liked it.

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Review: The Annotated Persuasion

As I have opined before; I have more than a few copies of Persuasion by Jane Austen, when people discover you are a fan of Jane Austen, copies arrive as gifts on occasion. I have a couple of particularly lovely copies, one very special edition and a delightful little pocket sized hardcover.

 

Don’t get me wrong I love each and every one, they connect me to the people that love me and are willing to listen  to me endlessly dissect her novels and sequels of her novels and other literature that I love…

Well I have found the best Persuasion so far,

The Annotated Persuasion: Annotated and edited by David M. Shapard

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It is amazing how much the mind skips over or assumes more modern values when reading books of this vintage. It opened my eyes about somethings and confirmed some others. The novel really focuses on constancy and love versus other considerations in choosing a marriage partner.  The question arises, what are differences in modern terms of the the feelings of the characters mentioned in the novel.

For instance; In Miss Austen’s time, a gentlemen who had proposed to a lady couldn’t break that engagement without a scandal. It was presumed that he had a lot of time to think over this decision, and a change of mind could ruin both his reputation and particularly hers. It could turn into legal action on the part of her family. However the lady could change her mind and release him, provided that she didn’t repeat this with someone else, which would label her as a jilt. Jane Austen herself accepted a proposal and the following day changed her mind. She never married.

Conclusion: Highly recommend this book.  However If you haven’t read  Persuasion at least once, I wouldn’t start here. If you are rereading it and want to understand more about the world of the novel this is an excellent, very approachable academic examination of the novel. Very well laid out with text on left page and notes, drawings, and diagrams on right page.

(see also her other novels which have received this Annotated treatment)

Other Annotated reviews:

Pride and Prejudice

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Review: The Brontes

In a fit of madness, I purchased the complete collection of the Bronte Sisters for my Kobo Arc Ebook. (I must add it cost $2.88, via the Kobo store, the Delphi edition, it has everything, books, biographies, letters, criticism…everything) 

I also own the hardcover pocket version of these books

Over the years I have read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte at least a dozen times. I don’t know what draws me to the characters. Jane is unsinkable and Mr. Rochester is unlikable. Their lives are bleak, desperate, and sad. However, I find it to be, full of hope. Even in the most challenging moments of this most Gothic story, both characters find something within themselves and each other that helps them weather life’s storm.

I also have a couple of versions on Dvd. This is my Favourite.

 

Favourite Quote:

Charlotte Bronte also wrote 

Villette – read this years ago will reread to give a better review

The Professor – yet to read

Shirley – yet to read

Anne Bronte wrote

Tenant of Wildfell Hall – another favourite, well worth reading. Considered a first for Feminist literature, viewed as shocking for it’s time. Not as well known as some of the other Bronte works.

I also have an excellent BBC Dvd version

The novel is framed as a letter from Gilbert Markham to his friend and brother-in-law about the events leading to his meeting his wife. A mysterious young widow arrives at Wildfell Hall, an Elizabethan mansion which has been empty for many years, with her young son and servant. She lives there in strict seclusion under the assumed name Helen Graham and very soon finds herself the victim of local slander. Refusing to believe anything scandalous about her, Gilbert Markham, a young farmer, discovers her dark secrets. In her diary, Helen writes about her husband’s physical and moral decline through alcohol, and the world of debauchery and cruelty from which she has fled. This novel of marital betrayal is set within a moral framework tempered by Anne’s optimistic belief in universal salvation. (Synopsis From wikipedia)

I couldn’t have worded it better.

Favourite Quote:

Agnes Grey – yet to read

Emily Bronte wrote

Wuthering Heights – I know this one is considered as a masterpiece, however not my favourite. I find it too dark and brooding.

However for the Movie/Dvd, no one did a better Heathcliff than Sir Laurence!

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Reading List 2015

This is my list for 2015, with a one word review. 

* For longer review look at entries with Links

Please do not take my one word reviews as the only opinion when deciding wither to purchase/read any of the books on this list. Most of the negative reviews imply that I chose to leave the book unfinished.

I also invite you to comment on any book you have seen on this list, or other books you think I should read.

  1. * The Annotated Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, ed. by David M. Shapard – Fascinating (TPB)
  2. The Annotated Persuasion by Jane Austen, ed. by David M. Shapard – Fascinating (TPB)
  3. Compulsively Mr. Darcy by Nina Benneton – Quirky (TPB)
  4. Gabriels Inferno by Sylvain Reynard – Surprising! (TPB)
  5. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler – Intricate (EB)
  6. Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers by Philip Stokes (PB)
  7. Holy Bible: NRSV with the Apocrypha – Daily (EB)
  8. Gabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard – (TPB)
  9. The Golden Thread: A readers journey through the great books by Bruce Meyer – Tour de force! (TPB)
  10. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – Favourite (EB)
  11. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte  – Pleasure (EB)
  12. The Warden by Anthony Trollope – Sweet  (EB)
  13. Longbourn by Jo Baker – Reveling  (TPB)

Note: HC = Hardcover, TPB = Trade Paperback, PB = Paperback, EB = Ebook

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Book: Compulsively Mr. Darcy by Nina Benneton

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Compulsively Mr. Darcy By Nina Benneton

Totally and surprisingly, enjoyed this really quirky take on

Pride and Prejudice.

Set in modern Vietnam. Elizabeth is a Doctor who specializes in Infectious Diseases. Darcy is a CEO of an International Corporation. Jane is a temporary custodian of an Orphanage, while her Uncle is in the states recovering from a Heart attack. I love how little details and sentences from the original are sprinkled throughout the book. I laughed, and laughed.

Review: A good read, off beat. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Reads a little like a Harlequin. 

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The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

I have more than a few copies of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, when people discover you are a fan of Jane Austen, copies arrive as gifts on occasion. I have a couple of particularly lovely copies, one very special edition and a delightful little pocket sized hardcover. Don’t get me wrong I love each and every one, they connect me to the people that love me and are willing to listen  to me endlessly dissect her novels and sequels of her novels and other literature that I love… 

Well I have found the best Pride and Prejudice so far,

The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, 

Reading and knitting, two of my favourite things!

Reading and knitting, two of my favourite things!

Annotated and edited by David M. Shapard

It is amazing how much the mind skips over or assumes more modern values when reading books of this vintage. It opened my eyes about somethings and confirmed some others. The novel really focuses on the individuals position in society, and their income and how that effects the selection of a marriage partner.  The question arises, what are differences in modern terms of the incomes of the various characters mentioned in the novel. For instance owning a horse and carriage at that time, why  is it such a big deal?  I was surprised that this was somewhat equivalent to someone owning a Helicopter today. Mr. Bennet, refers to calling the horse back from the farm work to take Jane to Netherfield Park to see Mr. Bingley’s sisters. The point being that his income was above average however his horses had to do double duty both farm work and pulling the family carriage.

There is also a very interesting note on the courses offered for meals. The day was also divided differently, morning, afternoon and evening were lengthened and consequently meals were arranged accordingly.

I really enjoyed the little insights into Jane Austens  views on aspects of society. David M. Shapard has referred to comments that the author made in her letters, that add another perspective on her personal life and how it coloured her writings.  She was a firm advocate for love and compatibility in marriage. She felt that a couple should be of similar values, understanding and interests, as well as love each other. This was rather unusual at the time as most marriages had more to do with connections and property. It is also rather obvious from her correspondence that some of her characters were drawn from real life.

Conclusion: Highly recommend this book.  However If you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice at least once, I wouldn’t start here. If you are rereading it and want to understand more about the world of the novel this is an excellent, very approachable academic examination of the novel. Very well laid out with text on left page and notes, drawings, and diagrams on right page.

(see also her other novels which have received this Annotated treatment)

Other Annotated reviews:

Persuasion 

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