Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Look, a real live book review!

It's so thoroughly satisfying to finish a book you've spent ages reading for no particular reason. I've had Dorothy Sayers' Unnatural Death on the go for weeks, though it's hardly difficult and all things considered I have had time. Just haven't quite gotten around to reading. Not for lack of wanting to, even.

This is the third Lord Peter Wimsey novel I've read, and I can see they get increasingly clever and complicated. In the first book, Whose Body?, I knew who the murderer was about 20 pages before Lord Peter did. Unnatural Death is interesting because we know who the murderer is, but not how the murder was committed, (for a while) what the motive was, or whether there were any accomplices. It's a book interestingly connected to its time, as the law which provides the motive took effect in 1926, and the book was written in 1927. One must wonder if Dorothy Sayers hadn't just happened to read about the change in the law, and thought it would make a good motive for murder.

The book is interestingly full of what appear to amount to lesbian relationships. The victim of the original murder lived with another woman for most of her life, and seems to have completely rejected men as stupid and tiresome. Later, another woman is pretty clearly shown to be in love with a woman. What's less obvious is the view taken on such things. One man says, "The Lord makes a few on 'em that way to suit 'Is own purposes, I suppose." (pg. 122) Later, a woman says, "I cannot help feeling that it is more natural--more proper, in a sense--for a man and a woman to be all in all to one another than for two persons of the same sex." But the reply to this idea is that, "Surely, we have got beyond that point of view in these days." (pg. 158-9) So I can't really make any conclusions about the book's or author's ultimate opinion on these two relationships, but it's interesting that the discussion is there and definitely provides material for my own general musing.

I thought the book ended rather abruptly, like the author had reached her word limit and had to cut it off a bit short. But that's my only real issue with it, apart from some occasional excessive intricacy about family trees and whatnot. My fondness for Lord Peter only increases.

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