Christmas at Denver Castle

3afef1e893f675f1dd6af0348c666c70Posts are beginning to appear about bloggers plans for reading over the Christmas period so I thought I would trump every single one of them by announcing that I am going to be spending Christmas at Denver Castle in the company of Lord Peter Wimsey. Now what, I ask you, could possibly be a more delightful prospect than that?  I am absolutely sure that each and every one of you is now in the process of turning a delicate shade of green.  You can be certain that the Duke will insist on celebrating Christmas in the most complete manner imaginable.  Not only will the food be first rate, but there will be wonderful decorations (no tatty paper streamers hanging from the chandeliers for George Denver) and all the traditions from wassailing through to Midnight Mass observed in their full splendour.  And even if Lord Peter himself is not completely comfortable in the company of some of his relatives, you can be sure that he will be the most attentive of hosts.  How I am going to make the transition back to my own little hovel in the New Year I have simply no idea.

What lies behind these plans?  Well, in the New Year I’m intending taking a course on the ways in which Dorothy L Sayers’ work reflects the social and political climate of the interwar years and I need to brush up on my Wimsey. Although I have, in the past, read all of the novels, the only one I know really well is Gaudy Night and I suspect that I have a rather unusual take on that.  I am, of course, perturbed by the murders but what distresses me to my academic core is the act of plagiarism.  I suspect you have to have worked in academia to have any hope of understanding the magnitude of the theft that lies at the root of the novel’s plot, after all even I can appreciate that in the greater scheme of things stealing someone else’s idea is not likely to substantially effect the path of wars or famines or global warming. Nevertheless, whenever I read Gaudy Night I still find myself shocked beyond belief that one scholar could do that to another.  The murders become a side issue.  Of the other novels I have only a very sketchy remembrance and so my plans for the two weeks around the Christmas period really do focus on Lord Peter and his relatives.  From one source or another I have managed to gather together the first nine books and I am going to revelling in an absolute feast of crime fiction from the Golden Age.

Of course, too much of even the very best of things can become a little cloying so, lest that should prove to be case in this instance, I also have a couple of review copies of novels due in the New Year to read.  There is a very good chance that I might spend Christmas Day itself with Ruth Galloway and her daughter Kate.  I haven’t told The Bears that though.  I’m sure that Kate would love them dearly but she is still very young and the phrase love them to bits comes to mind. I don’t want them worried unnecessarily.

So, what are your reading plans for Christmas and is there anyone who can trump my invitation to Denver Castle?  Whatever you have in mind I hope all your festive reading wishes come true.

37 thoughts on “Christmas at Denver Castle

  1. I’d better shape up – how can I compete with Denver Castle? I was envisaging a trip to the northernmost corner of Iceland (Nightblind), the horrors of suburban America (Young Hearts Crying), the darker streets of Tokyo (The Gun by Fuminori Nakamura) and a farm in New Jersey (Under the Influence by T.S. Matthews). I was trying to make up for the lack of luxurious accommodation by boasting about the breadth of my travels… Now you’ve made me want to seek out something a little more grandiose.

    1. To my way of thinking Christmas is a time to avoid travel, Marina Sofia, all those terrible crowds and unexpected weather delays! But, If you can do it vicariously then why not. Happy travelling.

    1. Sorry for interrupting, but–DO start the Cazalet Chronicles. I read The Light Years in the spring (the first installment) and it is so wonderful, the writing gentle and smooth and also deeply insightful. I can’t imagine a better thing to immerse yourself in over Christmas, even though the book is really about summer!

    2. That is definitely on my tbr list as well Susan and now you mention it if there is no special project claiming my attention this time next year I might make it a Christmas read then.

  2. How wonderful! I can’t imagine spending Christmas anywhere better than in the company of Sayers and Wimsey. TBH I haven’t planned very much what I’ll read over the next few weeks, though I suspect that it may involve Russia in the 1920s as that’s currently calling to me! 🙂

  3. I’ll probably spend Christmas with Commissaire Adamsberg somewhere between Paris and the French countryside. He’s certainly less stylish than Lord Wimsey. The only thing is that dear old Adamsberg has his head in the clouds, so he might just forget to bring the Champagne for the occasion.

    1. As long as he brings a good pot of tea I’ll forgive him, Smithereens. Who is Commissaire Adamsberg? I haven’t met him. How do I make his acquaintance?

  4. I was planning to spend it with Mr Anthony Trollope at Orley Farm. But you have me wondering if Christmas in Norfolk might suit my plans better. If I could only stay with the Dowager though.

    1. Yes, she would definitely be better company, Lisa. If I was planning to spend time with Trollope then it would be via the Pallisers. I do love a little bit of political intrigue.

      1. There is some idea of reading through the Palliser novels next year, following Audrey at Books & Food’s invitation to read the six Barsetshire novel for Mr Trollope’s bicentennial.

  5. Sounds delightful! As for me, I will be getting dirty in the garden, making friends with elephants, wolves and orcas, and imperiling my life by traveling with Alexander von Humboldt.

  6. There is never a bad time to revisit the Peter Wimsey novels! I do truly prefer the ones that include Harriet Vane, she being my favorite character in all of literature, but even the ones without her are awfully fun. And Gaudy Night is, of course, marvelous. Despite the plagiarism.

    1. Oh yes, I definitely went through a period when I wanted to be Harriet Vane, even if it did mean living through a murder trial with my life at stake.

  7. Having just finished my grading for the semester, I am looking forward to finishing Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton and then diving into whatever books I receive as Christmas presents!

    1. There is nothing like marking a pile of student essays to make you long for some sophisticated writing, Jeanne. I have to say that marking under time pressure is the one part of teaching that I don’t miss. I hope you are given all the books you could possibly wish for.

    1. I haven’t read any Ngaio Marsh for years, Marylou. I wonder if my library has kept any. I must find out. I’ve looked at the Ferrante novels but I think I might save them for a summer time visit.

  8. Nope, I absolutely cannot trump Denver Castle. I shall be trying to be the peacemaker while all around me various members of the family squabble about the rules of various games or other. How can a simple game of cards possibly be so volatile? I think I need Kofi Annan …
    My own reading companion was going to be Half a Yellow Sun on the basis I will need something engrossing but Ali (Heaven Ali) reminded me that its not exactly uplifting. So Inspector Gamache is beckoning. A few hours in the warm embrace of the Bistro sounds just the trick

    1. That’s a great idea for a Christmas reading project. I may have been put off Sayers a bit by Julian Symon’s rather hostile attitude to Wimsey in his Bloody Murder survey of crime fiction (remember it?), but no question these are escapist reading at its best- and I’m sure very interesting reading for your course.

      1. I haven’t read the Symon’s, Ian I must look it out, but maybe after Christmas. I don’t want to spoil the festive spirit. It may be, of course, that it will turn up as secondary reading on the course.

    2. Squabbling Bears get sent to their bedroom for half an hour. They are so concerned that the others will be eating their share of Christmas goodies that this soon brings them to their senses. If it’s the latest ganache that you’re thinking of I’m not sure it will be much more uplifting than Half of a Yellow Sun. It is distinctly chilly in what it has to say about both human nature and the current attitude towards mass warfare. Come to Denver Castle with me.

      1. Penny just published another one and I missed it! I’m glad though because after his retirement I was afraid that would be the last we saw of our beloved inspector.

        1. Sorry about the typo! I’ve just noticed it. There have been two set in Three Pines since Gamache retired. I don’t think they work as well. However, as you will find, there are signs at the end of the most recent one that there may be another official role for him and this will allow Penny to explore a different, if related, area of government.

  9. Once again, as always, I will be in the warm company of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Crachit crowd. It’s my turn to bring the chestnuts and rum for the punch. You’d think we’d grow tired of one another, but a more delightful group of friends I simply can’t imagine. “God bless us, everyone” never gets old.

    1. Oh The Bears are coming as well. I think they are expecting the lap of luxury. I haven’t liked to tell them just how draughty those places can be. Mind you, the food will be good and at the end of the day that is probably all that will matter to them. I think they will be indulging in rather more than ‘a little something’.

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