Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wimsy, Vane, and wartime valor à la Elizabeth Wein

Vancouver Sun
These two form the only romantic pairing on my list! But I include them because they do make a Sensational Team as well as being a sensational couple. Detective work aside, romance aside, Harriet and Peter "work well together", each bringing a separate set of talents to the puzzles they're trying to solve. Their teamwork is metaphorically crystallised in the middle of Gaudy Night when, in a fit of nostalgia for her student days, Harriet writes half a poem about Oxford which Peter finishes. Though their individual poetic style and tone are completely different, together they build a perfect and true sonnet with both literal and figurative levels of meaning. Oh, and they are also both excellent at steering a punt. Not every couple can make teamwork of this difficult skill.
That's part of bestselling author Elizabeth Wein's answer to a question from The Guardian on her choices for her favorite partners in literature. Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey appear in the perennially popular Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, and Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L Sayers. (Click here for a spiffy edition of The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories.)
You will see in the column to the right of this post that my piece on Wein's Code Name Verity is the most popular of the ~1000 I have written! (Doubtless that's because of the buzz an upcoming film based on the book is generating.)
While waiting for the movie, I'm going to read her interconnected book Rose Under Fire, also set in World War II, and also filled with a gratifying quorum of female heroines.
According to Publishers Weekly, "Wein wanted to know more about Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp, after reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. She hit upon her main character Rose’s motivation for writing down everything she could remember about having been imprisoned after reading And I Am Afraid of My Dreams by Wanda Póltawska, a Polish survivor of the camps. Her fascination with women who were dropped behind enemy lines was stoked by The Women Who Lived for Danger, a collective biography about some of World War II’s female secret agents. Many did not live to tell their own stories."
I reckon that for Wein, the yen to compose came early! Here she is with her first typewriter as a small child. Wein has lived in Scotland for more than ten years and has written nearly all of her novels there.
Has anyone read Rose Under Fire yet?


  1. In preparation to read Rose Under Fire a little while ago I decided I'd skim through Code Name Verity again to remind myself of the some details, and I found myself rereading it cover to cover! Luckily Wein doesn't suffer from any sort of "sophomore slump" with Rose Under Fire - it's just as intense and emotional as its companion. I also really enjoyed reading about Wein's research process at the end of each book.

    I had no idea there have been talks of a Code Name Verity movie! Although I shouldn't be surprised considering Hollywood can't seem to leave any books alone these days. (I'll still see it though of course).

  2. Your research work is really great and always shoes the great results. Good to see your work and looking forward to seeing more of it