Tuesday, May 3, 2011

comfort in small things: British detective novels, pre-1930 (does that sound dry?)

Why, when I feel stressed, do I crave pre-1930s British novels, especially detective novels?

1. I am an English-teaching nerd.

2. The manners of people in these books seem so predictable.

3. Predictability calms my nerves.

4. I know the detective will ALWAYS catch her/his perp. And then say something dryly humorous. I aspire to be dryly humorous. If only.

5. The settings and situations are completely unlike 2011 in the Southern U.S. Petrol is cheap and trains are running at all hours, so who even needs petrol? The next train is at 10:20 with a sleeping berth? Take me away!

6. There is almost always a cheery fire in the grate and a cup of tea or a whiskey and soda. And biscuits. Or scones, with butter. Or a saddle of mutton. Eww on the mutton, but oddly comforting.

7. If there's an occasional French phrase, my high school French classes make me feel smart.

8. Feeling smart, even momentarily, calms my nerves.

9. Even though it's always raining and cold, the Brits keep on keepin' on. Redoubtable. Even the elderly ladies. They have Burberrys, umbrellas, and hats. Tweeds, too. Boots.

10. One's honour is everything. One may lose one's way temporarily, but honor will always win out.

Ahh. I feel better already. Now, will it be Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers tonight?


  1. I've never read a novel like this but now I'm kinda interested and I do need an escape from the real world.

  2. I've just finished a couple of Dorothy Sayer's novels with her detective Lord Peter. Peter was a soldier in WW I and has re-occuring epidsodes of what we now call PTSD. This gave the stories a link to today's world that I found interesting. Plus his butler is amazing!
    Thanks for the comment!