2013: The Attenbury Emeralds

"Peter?" said Lady Peter Wimsey to her lord. "What were the Attenbury Emeralds?"

The Attenbury Emeralds, Jill Paton Walsh

Now, if I was wary of Gemma Hardy and its use of Jane Eyre, I was downright skeptical - perhaps even offended by the idea of The Attenbury Emeralds.  This is a book in which Jill Paton Walsh uses my very very favorite characters of detective fiction - Lord Peter Wimsey and his bride, Harriet Vane, and continues on their story.  Sacrilege!  Dorothy Sayers wrote the Lord Peter Wimsey mystery novels, and they are my very very favorite mystery stories.  Peter is one of my top three literary boy friends (Peter is the name of my second son).  Gaudy Night, the book in which Harriet and Peter finally realize they love each other is my favorite book (and Busman's Honeymoon, the last Peter novel, in which a murder interupts their honeymoon is in the running for the my all time top ten).  So to have some author come in and use the characters is just an insult.

Except, not quite.  Walsh first got involved in the Wimsey business when the Sayers estate asked her to finish an unfinished novel that Sayers had started - that was called Thrones, Dominions, and then Walsh used Sayers' rough notes to write A Presumption of Death.  This is the first one that is based on Walsh's ideas alone, but she is obviously a true fan of Wimsey, and damnit if I didn't enjoy this book immensely.  It's not Sayers, but it's pretty darn close, and because I love the characters so I do want to know what happened to them.  So I felt a little dirty, but I gobbled the book up, and I'm not ashamed to say that I'd read more if she wrote them.  The thing is - Walsh is a good writer - and stays close enough to the spirit of Sayers that even though it's not the real thing, its a good enough imitation that you don't feel ashamed for reading.


© Carrie Dunsmore 2017