Friday, July 8, 2016

The Quotation Tag: Day 1

I was tagged by Rachel at Hamlette's Soliloquy for a tag meme with the following rules:

Thank the person who nominated you 
Nominate 3 new bloggers every day 
Post a new quotation every day for 3 consecutive days

The first step is easy. Thanks, Rachel! This looks like fun. I'm even going to steal your idea of sharing three quotes per day instead of just one, because I have a few ideas for themed quotes, and it'll be easier to narrow it down to three quotes per category.

Today, I've decided to share quotes from the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers, as an excuse to gush about the series.  I've been working my way through these books, and a recent look at a short story collection reminded me of just how wonderfully quotable these books are. 

In the 1920s and '30s, Dorothy L. Sayers wrote a series of mysteries about Lord Peter Wimsey, the second son of the Duke of Denver, who picks up a hobby of amateur detective work, and who obscures his intellect behind a silly and brainless aristocratic facade. The best part of these books is the character development. Peter starts out as a pretty shallow character, but each book gives him more and more depth, and becomes more and more literary as Sayers delves into issues more serious than just "whodunnit".

The character development really picks up after Sayers introduces a love interest, Harriet Vane, a writer of detective stories. Given her job and character background, lots of people think that Harriet's just a self-insert for Sayers. If that's so, Harriet's the best author self-insert that was ever written. Both Peter and Harriet are three-dimensional, completely realistic people with tons of flaws and foibles--it's definitely not an idealized wish-fulfillment romance.

So I'm going to share one quote from each of the three books that cover Peter and Harriet's courtship. In Strong Poison, Harriet's on trial for the murder of her former lover, and Peter stops by the jail to offer his detective services, and to propose marriage, leading their awkward first meeting to end thus:
"You--er--you'll think it over, won't you, if you have a minute to spare? There's no hurry. Only don't hesitate to say if you think you couldn't stick it at any price. I'm not trying to blackmail you into matrimony, you know. I mean, I should investigate this for the fun of the thing, whatever happened, don't you see."

"It's very good of you--"

"No, no, not at all. It's my hobby. Not proposing to people, I don't mean, but investigating things. Well, cheer-frightfully-ho and all that. And I'll call again, if I may."

"I will give the footman orders to admit you," said the prisoner, gravely; "you will always find me at home." 

The courtship continues, perhaps even more awkwardly, in Have His Carcase, in which Harriet and Peter investigate a murder together, and try to figure out their strange relationship. One of my favorite quotes (which helped convince me to pick up the series in the first place) concerns Peter giving Harriet advice about clothing.

“…But I’ll have to get a decent frock if there is such a thing in Wilvercombe.”

“Well, get a wine-coloured one, then. I’ve always wanted to see you in wine-colour. It suits people with honey-coloured skin. (What an ugly word ‘skin’ is.) ‘Blossoms of the honey-sweet and the honey-coloured nenuphar’—I always have a quotation for everything—it saves original thinking.”

“Blast the man!” said Harriet, left abruptly alone in the blue-plush lounge. Then she suddenly ran out down the steps and leapt upon the Daimler’s running-board.

“Port or sherry?” she demanded.

“What?” said Wimsey, taken aback.

“The frock—port or sherry?”

“Claret,” said Wimsey. “Château Margaux 1893 or thereabouts. I’m not particular to a year or two."

By far the most romantic and literary of the books is Gaudy Night, in which the mystery takes a back-seat to Harriet's personal development and to Harriet and Peter's romance.  There are any number of witty and romantic quotes that I could share, but my favorite quote is this question by Harriet, because Peter's answer is one that speaks to me as both a reader and a writer.

“Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?"

"So easy that, to tell you the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober.” 

And there you have it. I could gush about these books all day (I haven't even shared quotes from my favorite two books so far) but that gives a little peek into the series.

I won't bother to tag anyone personally (what a rebel I am!). If you've read all the way through and want to play along, feel free. If you've read all the way through and want to talk Wimsey with me, please, please do!


  1. Hi! Just found your blog today.

    I've been wanting to read some of Dorothy L. Sayer's books for a while now. But now you've thoroughly convinced me. I'm going to love these books! :)

    1. That was precisely the reaction I was hoping for! These books can be a bit hard to get into (Dorothy *loves* to wallow in detail and show off her Oxford education) but if you can stick with some literary tangents, they're absolutely delightful.

  2. I really like these books! I've only read 2 or 3 of them, and a bunch of short stories, but they are such a delight. I really need to start over and read the whole series. Love the bits you shared!

    1. Hooray! A fellow fan! Which ones have you read? I've got three books and about five short stories left, and I'm already feeling sad about what will happen when I run out.

    2. Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I don't remember which ones I've read. Pretty sure I read Strong Poison, and then Busman's Honeymoon, and also some short stories. Not sure which ones!