Alex In Leeds

(Book Reviews and Adventures…)

The Book Jar 5: It’s Going To Be Murder…

24 Comments

How To Make A Book Jar

Background: A book jar is a pretty, positive way of gathering together all the titles you want to read or have on your To Be Read pile onto slips of coloured paper so you can add an element of surprise into your reading and do away with long, ever changing lists. I made mine back in March and it seems to have inspired quite a few people to have a go making their own. :)

After my last book jar pick (Arthur C Clarke as a wildcard choice) it’s time to draw the first choice of 2014. I’ve decided to go for one of the green slips – these are the ones with titles from 1900-1950 on them. I’m hoping for something not quite so out of my comfort zone as sci-fi!

*drum roll*

My fifth pick is: Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers

Whose Body by Dorothy L Sayers

Hmm. Well mystery novels are less out of my comfort zone than sci-fi or Henry James but I read almost no mystery titles these days which is how this ended up in the book jar; it will be my first ever novel by Sayers.

In fact, odd as it sounds, I’m more familiar with Sayers as a translator: I’m a fan of her version of Dante’s Divine Comedy which tries to keep the complicated rhyme scheme of the original poem (most modern versions go for blank verse or adapt it in some way, including Clive James’ latest translation.)

However, that was written in the 1950s and Whose Body?, her debut novel, was first published in 1923. It’s the book that introduced her famous detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, to the world and he proved so popular a sleuth that Sayers went on to feature him in a dozen novels and many short stories.

Unlike other famous long-running characters or sleuths from the era (like Jeeves or Poirot for example) I don’t think I’ve ever heard or seen a TV or radio adaptation of a Wimsey mystery so all this really will be brand new to me and I’m rather excited.

Perhaps I’ll discover a whole new series to dig into…? Or perhaps I’ll find myself unable to shake memories of W Somerset Maugham’s problem with fictional sleuths?

Since I don’t have a copy of this one I’ve reserved it from the library, expect my thoughts in a week or two. :)

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Author: Alex in Leeds

Book reviewer, blogger, photographer and adventuress who completed 101 goals in 1001 days. I can be found on Twitter as @AlexInLeeds.

24 thoughts on “The Book Jar 5: It’s Going To Be Murder…

  1. That’s what is fun about the book jar. You forget what is in it and have such a good time picking from it. Will look forward to it for sure. Hope you enjoy it.

  2. I hope you enjoy it and aren’t put off Sayers’ mysteries. The Nine Tailors is a much better place to start. She had honed her skills, which are in their infancy in Whose Body, by then and had become a mistress of the genre. If you don’t like it, take my word for it—she gets better. If you do like it, rest content that you have discovered a new writer with a body of work that will please and entertain for many hours.

  3. Last week Bookriot did an article on book jars and used the photo of yours. Not only was it a great idea, but it’s definitely got wings. Enjoy the Sayers, it sounds like a good choice.

  4. Sayers did get much better over time. Lord Peter starts off as a bizarre caricature before gradually turning into a person. BUT she is the queen of mystery–she is so good! Stick with her!

  5. I hope you will enjoy! I love the books featuring Peter and Harriet together most, so I do hope you’ll get there…

  6. I like Sayers. I’ve read Whose Body? And it led me to read the entire Peter Wimsey series. Some are way better than others as so often happens in a series…but enjoyable on the whole. This is my favourite genre…which got me to thinking…maybe I should have a Book Jar of Classics! Totally out of my comfort zone.

    • I’m prepared for it to be a little sketchy as Sayers was trying something new but I’m actually looking forward to getting it from the library tomorrow.

      A book jar of classics would be a nice way to do it at your own pace – no list or deadlines just drawing a title out when you feel ready for a challenging read…

  7. Peter Wimsey was my first literary love, so I’m not the most objective reader, even many years later. I do hope you enjoy this one, at least enough to read more. I agree with Kilian above that The Nine Tailors is one of her best, and also with Melwyk about the books with Harriet.

    Imitation being sincere flattery etc, I now have a book box (I didn’t have a jar big enough :)

  8. I’ve not read any Sayers yet either, but have Gaudy Night on my TBR. I always thought that was the first Wimsey book, but perhaps it’s just the first one featuring Wimsey and Harriet together. I am very interested to hear what you think.

    I have my own book jar too, inspired by you last year. It isn’t colourful or anything, just a jam jar with scraps of paper in it but it has given me some really good reads in the last 6 months. It finally prompted me to read some Patrick Ness, which was wonderful, and led to me to discover Adam Thorpe, which was great too. :-)

    • Save Gaudy Night for later. It is a culmination of a multi-book story arc that starts with Strong Poison. Of her non-Harriet books, The Nine Tailors is a classic mystery that stands on its own. It’s one of the great ones. I love the Harriet books, but if I could have only one Sayers mysteries, it would be The Nine Tailors. If you start with Gaudy Night, you will spoil the pleasure for yourself of coming to it gradually.

    • *grin* Yay for your book jar, sounds like it’s delivering nicely. I had to look at Wikipedia to find out which was the first Wimsey, Strong Poison, Murder Must Advertise and Gaudy Night were the only three I knew and all are later books.

  9. Wow! I really envy you if you’re about to discover Sayers for the first time. Her “Gaudy Night” is one of my favourite books and I love all of them really. This isn’t necessary her best but she was a great writer and as other commentators have said, Wimsey and the books improve as they go along.

  10. You inspired me to do a book jar last year. Then when it came time to pick the book I wasn’t in the mood for the one that materialised so I put it back. Clearly you are more disciplined than I am:)

    • Hahahaha, I just like giving up a little control every now and then. Maybe you could just try grabbing something out of your comfort zone in the library instead? That way you get to pick something you’re in the mood for but it’s got the element of randomness to it…

  11. I have this on my kindle strangely have never read it although I have read many of the later novels.I love Lord Peter but my favourite character is his butler. So hope you enjoy it.

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