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Busman's Honeymoon: A Love Story with Detective Interruptions (1937)

by Dorothy L. Sayers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Peter Wimsey & Harriet Vane (4), Lord Peter Wimsey (13)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,528812,701 (4.2)228
Society's eligible women are in mourning. Lord Peter Wimsey has married at last, having finally succeeded in his ardent pursuit of the lovely mystery novelist Harriet Vane. The two depart for a tranquil honeymoon in a country farmhouse, but find, instead of a well-prepared love nest, the place left in shambles by the previous owner. His sudden appearance, dead from a broken skull in the cellar, only prompts more questions. Why would anyone have wanted to kill old Mr. Noakes? What dark secrets had he to hide? The honeymoon is over as Lord Peter and Harriet Vane start their investigations. Suspicion is rife and everyone seems to have something to hide, from the local constable to the housekeeper. Wimsey and his wife can think of plenty of theories, but its not until they discover a vital fact that the identity of the murderer becomes clear.… (more)
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» See also 228 mentions

English (79)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (81)
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
Lord Peter Wimsey finally marries mystery writer Harriet Vane, and discover a corpse while on their honeymoon. An entertaining read, fun, witty, suspenseful, and even sweet.

The only complaint I have about this book is a problem endemic to Sayers, which is that she expects the reader to be fluent in French - periodically characters will switch languages for whatever reason, and what they're saying is never translated. Sure, I should know enough French to figure it out, but I don't, so I end up just skipping over those bits. I don't think I'm losing much, but I'm sure I'm missing somthing. ( )
  JohnNienart | Jul 11, 2021 |
A great book. Often funny, the most amusing and ironic of the dozen Sayers I've read. Also, the most literary in allusions not just as chapter epigraphs, but dropped in dialog, mostly by Lord Peter Wimsey, but here, uniquely, by Superintendent Kirk, a reading policeman. Although I'm an English Ph.D., some allusions, though familiar, didn't instantly claim their source, like a character called "foster-child of Silence and slow Time"(166). (That's Keats's Grecian Urn.) I do always know Lewis Carroll, Shakespeare (my specialty), and Donne, "O more than Moon, draw not up seas to drown me" (274). (D, my doctoral advisor's specialty.) Lord Peter, and his new wife, novelist Harriet Vane often quote snatches of French and Latin (my comparative lit background aiding me), Horace's "man of upright soul" I had translated, though free from the prussic acid in Lord Peter's rendering (144). Lord Peter, ignoring the barking of a dog at Bunter, reflects that he's finally got Harriet, "Da mihi basia mille, deinde centum," from Catullus, Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred.. One joyous French song Peter sings, "Auprès de ma blonde / Qu'il fait bon, fait bon, fait bon"(270) you should check on Youtube, almost a child's song, though about amour.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca2hX...

The plot turns on Lord Peter's buying his new wife Harriet Vane the Talboys farm she had loved since childhood; they spend their wedding night in a four-poster bed upstairs, despite remains of an egg supper on the kitchen table, before someone discovers the body of the seller Noakes, in the cellar. Who could possibly have a reason to dislike the tall owner? Maybe everybody we meet.

Among Lord Peter's myriad quotations are some of my favorites from English and Classical lit, such as a John Donne poem which he took almost word for word from Ovid. Donne, considered our most original poet, did steal from Ovid, as did Shakespeare from Plautus and others. Lord Peter says, "License my roving hands, and let them go/ before behind between [above, below]"(290). Donne's "Indifferent" he stole wholesale from Ovid, Amores II.iv, "I can love her and her, and you and you/ I can love any , so she be not true"; Ovid has, "sive es docta," if you're educated, then "tu, quia longa es," you because you're tall. Donne stole his notable shift in tone from distant connoiseur to precipitent lecher, for Ovid also has third person, "est quae."
To my personal delight, Lord Peter quotes from the subject of my doctoral dissertation, the poet-critic Andrew Marvell, "Had we but world enough and time"(214).

Lord Peter reminds me of the TV sleuth Father Brown, who solves cases by character analysis; here, Wimsey is not whimsical. He despises the Biblical Jacob, who achieves the blessing of the firstborn from his blind father Isaac, by a double deception, partly by using animal skins to suggest that he Jacob was "an hairy man," really his brother Esau, a hunter. Sayers refers to bad men like the Northerner Squeers in Nicholas Nickleby, who cheated his students' Southern parents out of money: Dickens' portrayal of such cheating helped put some boarding schools out of business. Also, later in the novel we learn that Crutchley's would-be father-in-law cuts keys (299).

One whole chapter is filled with Shakespeare quotations, though they are sprinled well throughout, as earlier, "Speak the speech, I pray you...trippingly on the tongue," Hamlet's prose advice on acting (III.ii.1) here (274).

As always in Sayers, we learn Brit words, like "settle" (a wooden bench with a back and arms) and "salver" (a small tray held with one hand,usually silver). And Brit phrases, like "in fault," rather than "at fault"(179).

Lord Peter admires his reliable Bunter (who saved his life in the war) with an accolade for overseeing chimney cleaning, "The Most Heroic Order of the Chimney, for attempting a rescue against overwhelming odds"(100). Where I live, a great restaurant had their old chimney cleaned, only to have the cleaning itself provoke a chimney fire-- and end the wood burning. As a youth I heard the roar of a chimney fire in my grandparents' 1840 farmhouse on Crockett Ridge; their old kitchen stove aways burned wood--sixteen cords a winter for the three uninsulated rooms they lived in that season. ( )
  AlanWPowers | Jun 19, 2021 |
Married at last, Talboys
  18cran | Apr 10, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
Aristocratic sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey has finally married the love of his life, detective novelist Harriet Vane. Harriet has always fancied an old country house near the Hertfordshire village where she grew up as the doctor’s daughter. Lord Peter aims to please, so he sets things in motion to buy the house and prepare it for their honeymoon. The newlyweds and Lord Peter’s valet, Bunter, arrive at the deserted house to find nothing as promised. The house soon fills with charwoman, chimney sweep, gardener, vicar, and spinster organist, with each new arrival making it that much more difficult for the newlyweds to find any time to themselves. Then a body is discovered in the cellar, turning the whole adventure into a busman’s honeymoon. The plot is an unusual mashup of an inverted country house party and a locked room mystery, with the house party assembling after the murder instead of before.

In the author’s introduction (in the form of a letter to three women), Sayers writes:

It has been said, by myself and others, that a love-interest is only an intrusion upon a detective story. But to the characters involved, the detective-interest might well seem an irritating intrusion upon their love-story. This book deals with such a situation...If there is but a ha’porth of detection to an intolerable deal of saccharine, let the occasion be the excuse.

Sayers achieved exactly what she intended to, with intimate moments between Lord Peter and his bride interspersed with detective inquiries. Lord Peter and Harriet’s high spirits rubbed off on this reader. I laughed more through this one than in any of Lord Peter’s other adventures. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jan 31, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sayers, Dorothy L.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carmichael, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
George, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juva, KerstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
That will ask some tears in the true performing of it: if I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; I will move storms, I will condole in some measure. . . . I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split . . . a lover is more condoling.
Shakespeare: A Midsummer-Night's Dream.
Dedication
TO MURIEL ST. CLARE BYRNE,
HELEN SIMPSON AND
MARJORIE BARBER

Dear Muriel, Helen, and Bar,
With what extreme of womanly patience you listened to the tale of Busman's Honeymoon while it was being written, the Lord He knoweth. I do not like to think how many times I tired the sun with talking--and if at any time they had told me you were dead, I should easily have believed that I had talked you into your graves. But you have strangely survived to receive these thanks.
You, Muriel, were in some sort a predestined victim, since you wrote with me the play to which this novel is but the limbs and outward flourishes; my debt and your long-suffering are all the greater. You, Helen and Bar, were wantonly sacrificed on the altar of that friendship of which the female sex is said to be incapable; let the lie stick i' the wall!
To all three I humbly bring, I dedicate with tears, this sentimental comedy.
It has been said, by myself and others, that a love-interest is only an intrusion upon a detective story. But to the characters involved, the detective-interest might well seem an irritating intrusion upon their love-story. This book deals with such a situation. It also provides some sort of answer to many kindly inquiries as to how Lord Peter and his Harriet solved their matrimonial problem. If there is but a ha'porth of detection to an intolerable deal of saccharine, let the occasion be the excuse.
Yours in all gratitute,
Dorothy L. Sayers
First words
Prothalamion:
MARRIAGES
WIMSEY-VANE.
Chapter I:
Mr. Mervyn Bunter, patiently seated in the Daimler on the far side of Regent's Park, reflected that time was getting on.
Quotations
... May I express the hope that the present union may happily exemplify that which we find in a first-class port---strength of body fortified by a first-class spirit and mellowing through many years to a noble maturity. [Bunter's wedding toast]
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Note: Busman's Honeymoon subtitled A Love Story with Detective Interruptions is a novel by Dorothy L. Sayers. It should not be confused with Busman's Honeymoon subtitled A Detective Comedy in Three Acts, a play, which was penned by Dorothy L. Sayers and M[uriel] St. Clare Byrne.
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Society's eligible women are in mourning. Lord Peter Wimsey has married at last, having finally succeeded in his ardent pursuit of the lovely mystery novelist Harriet Vane. The two depart for a tranquil honeymoon in a country farmhouse, but find, instead of a well-prepared love nest, the place left in shambles by the previous owner. His sudden appearance, dead from a broken skull in the cellar, only prompts more questions. Why would anyone have wanted to kill old Mr. Noakes? What dark secrets had he to hide? The honeymoon is over as Lord Peter and Harriet Vane start their investigations. Suspicion is rife and everyone seems to have something to hide, from the local constable to the housekeeper. Wimsey and his wife can think of plenty of theories, but its not until they discover a vital fact that the identity of the murderer becomes clear.

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