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I write this after reading some less than positive reviews from others. JPW has made a good effort to keep the Wimsey canon going, and has done quite well. The stories have progressed the timeline reasonably although there seems an undue concentration on the domestic arrangements rather than the 'plot'.
Generally JPW books are longer, slower and more ponderous than those of Dorothy Sayers herself. The originals were much tighter, even if Sayers had a predilection for literary quotations, a predilection that JPW overuses.
I think The Late Scholar is one of JPWs better efforts, along the lines of The Attenbury Diamonds (athough in that book the fire a Dukes Denver and ducal accession were unecessary distractions). I enjoyed its sense of time and style and a good evocation of Oxford, certainly as good as the Gaudy Night sense of the University.
The narration was not good and did not add to the experience nor help the book, but this is compared to Ian Carmichael who was made for the part, as a narrator or actor.
Yes there were mispronunciations, yes the was confusion over character voices (Parker was the wrong voice altogether), but overall the sense of the place and time and people was reasonable. I do not agree with the reviewer who could not finish the audiobook. I have listened to it three times this year (in full) and probably will do again in the next few months.
Just a few other points, in my subjective view:
- Contrary to the Publishers Note, Gaudy Night was not one of Sayers's best, it also was too slow and ponderous.
- The Wimsey canon is just that, about Lord Peter Wimsey, and should not be just a vehicle for Harriet Vane.
- I hope JPW does continue the canon, about and of Wimsey, preferably set in the pre-WWII years, because that is his real period.
- I hope Ian Carmichael can be convinced to revive from his eternal rest too give us the best narration, or if not then a IC clone.
What was most disappointing about Jill Paton Walsh’s story?
The story is contrived. Too many bits brought in from earlier Sayers books in a very contrived way and lacking the development of relationship between Peter and Harriet. Lovely descriptions of Oxford but really not as good as Jill Paton walsh's earlier Sayers books.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
Like the other reviewers I love Edward Petherbridge and Ian Carmichael. Gordon Griffiths was a shock. You become used to it after a while but it lacks Peter's tone of irony and bunter's voice didn't seem to match at all.
Any additional comments?
I did listen all the way through but it was never gripping. If you have read all of the Sayers books then walsh's thrones and dominions! and the Attenborough emeralds are really good. Read them.
Would you listen to The Late Scholar again? Why?
Yes, because I'm addicted to DL Sayers, Lord Peter Wimsey & Harriet Vane.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Late Scholar?
There was no one moment that stands out.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
Sadly Edward Petherbridge has not lent his voice to this reading which is a great shame. While Gordon Griffin does a competent job, his quavering voice and mis-pronunciation of "Domina" amongst other things grated and in no way conjured the image of Peter Wimsey. Ian Carmichael and Edward Petherbridge have stamped my auditory memory so anyone else reading this book is doomed to failure.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
The Late Scholar met my double passion for the Wimseys and Oxford, so on that score alone it has to be a winner.
Any additional comments?
Jill Paton Walsh is no Dorothy L Sayers, there is an element of dumbing down of the language and sentiment, perhaps she is trying too hard? Nonetheless, it's a competent work, not faultless but it feeds the insatiable desire to follow the central relationship of Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey. Quite what Miss Sayers would have made of this volume remains to be seen. Having said that, I still give it 7/10 as it is much better than a lot of historical whodunits on the market.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Where does The Late Scholar rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
I enjoyed listening and will no doubt listen to other Jill Paton Walsh.
What other book might you compare The Late Scholar to, and why?
Deliberately reminiscent of Gaudy Night.
Have you listened to any of Gordon Griffin’s other performances? How does this one compare?
Shame about the voice used for Charles, Wimsey's police inspector brother-in-law. Far too old.
Any additional comments?
The big let down was the relationship with the police. With a suspected serial killer on the loose, it is hard to imagine Wimsey being given the freedom he has. The police would have been all over the place.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful