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Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
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Gaudy Night

by Dorothy L. Sayers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lord Peter Wimsey (12)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,8151021,358 (4.32)314
Recently added byJeffCoster, lynaia, private library, katefitz, rnbwpnt, juripakaste, luxatron, Philomena, jbhender, eppp
Legacy LibrariesRex Stout, Anthony Burgess
  1. 60
    A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold (PhoenixFalls)
    PhoenixFalls: A Civil Campaign is Lois McMaster Bujold's attempt to replicate Gaudy Night -- with an infusion of Georgette Heyer -- in her long-running Vorkosigan Saga.
  2. 30
    The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh (merry10)
    merry10: The Late Scholar is Jill Paton Walsh's further exploration of Dorothy L. Sayers' themes in Gaudy Night.
  3. 20
    Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (kraaivrouw)
  4. 20
    A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King (zembla)
    zembla: Both feature good banter, a mystery set in a mostly-female environment, and a tentative romance between the sleuth protagonists.
  5. 10
    The Theban Mysteries by Amanda Cross (BookGirlVL)
    BookGirlVL: Amanda Cross's Kate Fansler is an English professor and an amateur sleuth like Harriet Vane. The university and private school settings, as well as the witty, literate dialogue may appeal to readers who loved Dorothy L. Sayer's novels.
  6. 10
    Death Among the Dons by Janet Neel (littlegreycloud)
    littlegreycloud: A murder mystery, an academic setting, an unusual heroine, a knight in shining armour (although John McLeish is more believable than Lord Peter;): check, check, check and check. But most importantly: really good writing.
  7. 23
    A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer (bmlg)
    bmlg: lively and engaging depiction of the community of women scholars
1930s (7)
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» See also 314 mentions

English (96)  Danish (3)  German (3)  Swedish (1)  All languages (103)
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
Fantastic, fantastic novel. It’s worth reading the entire Wimsey series just to get to this book. Harriet Vane returns to Oxford for a class reunion, only to be caught up in the deranged anger of an ever-escalating vandal. The mystery itself is not terribly mysterious—most people will have the criminal figured out by a third through the book—but the way in which the characters deal with the mystery is refreshingly believable. A chance encounter brings Wimsey to Vane’s aid, and their five-year courtship finally draws to a climax. I saved a bunch of quotes from this book. They’re all good—the continuity of ducks!—but my favorite bits are between Vane and Wimsey. I rarely care about the romantic subplot, but in this case I grudged the mystery every moment it took away from the couple. I actually squealed gleefully at the end. Sayers’s writing has never felt so truthful and evocative. The only bad part of Gaudy Night is knowing that I only have one more Wimsey novel to go. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Only the second I've read in this series (the other was 'Strong Poison') and it's a very, very different book. Where 'Strong Poison' is a pretty standard, classic mystery, 'Gaudy Night' is (it seems) almost an autobiographical novel, with a mystery shoehorned in.

I loved, loved, loved every detail of what it was like to be a female student at Oxford back in the day (Sayers attended from 1912-1915). It's a vivid, realistic, and very human depiction of the academics and their day-to-day lifestyle, their lofty intellectual concerns and their petty foibles - all come together to make this book an invaluable and amazing historical document.

However, the mystery, such as it is, didn't grab me. I couldn't bring myself to really care too much about who the 'poison pen' tormenting these women was. I've never cared for mysteries which end in an overlong expository explanation of why all the villainy occurred.

The romance aspect was also aggravatingly frustrating. I found Peter Wimsey to be a self-important twit, and, I'm sorry, but although, yes, one should be certain that a potential romantic partner respects you as a person, I don't find Harriet Vane stringing him along for FIVE YEARS to be romantic or feminist - at that stretch of time, it's just being an inconsiderate, indecisive jerk.

Definitely worth reading, however. I'll read more of the series. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Not my favorite of the Wimsey series, though the Oxford setting is nice and of course the story is famous as being the one in which Harriet Vane finally agrees to marry Peter Wimsey. I think what troubles me is that I believe the criminal (who for once is not a treacherous fiancé) really has considerable justice on her side. As between the happiness of a family on one side and scholarly integrity on the other, there is much to be said for the happiness of a family. .Besides, I think with a little ingenuity both could have been preserved. ( )
  antiquary | Dec 18, 2015 |
I simply love this book; I have had it in my collection since I was a teenager and come back to it again and again. As a detective story, a story of unfolding love balanced against the life of the mind, and an evocation of pre-War Oxford, it has few peers ( )
1 vote ManipledMutineer | Oct 10, 2015 |
Harriet Vane returns to her college (Shrewsbury) at Oxford for a gaudy, discovers a disgusting picture and receives an anonymous note. Later she is asked to advise the SCR since there have been numerous more notes and cruel pranks. She moves into college and does some research while trying to get to the bottom of things. Eventually Peter returns from trying to avert WW2 and helps out. Unusually no one is actually murdered here, although there are various attacks towards the end.

I enjoyed this overall; the Oxford setting and vocabulary was very familiar and the character of Viscount Saint-George was a fun counterpoint to the solemnity and stress of the rest of the novel. There was an awful lot of debating about whether women had to choose between "the mind" or a husband, which seems to a modern reader to be water under the bridge and I suppose Peter is supposed to be demonstrating that Harriet can have both, although her final agreement to marry him was not particularly reasoned out - it seemed a bit as though she had decided she found him physically attractive and couldn't bring herself to lose him.

It would have been easier to keep track of who people were if they were not sometimes referred to by name and sometimes by their title (e.g. the Warden). Maybe a bit overlong in the middle. ( )
  pgchuis | Jul 23, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy L. Sayersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
George, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juva, KerstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The University is a Paradise. Rivers of Knowledge are there. Arts and Sciences flow from thence. Counsell Tables are Horti conclusi, (as it is said in the Canticles) Gardens that are walled in, and they are Fontes signati. Wells that are sealed up; bottomless depths of unsearchable Counsels there.

John Donne
Dedication
First words
Harriet Vane sat at her writing-table and stared out into Mecklenburg Square.
Quotations
'The social principle seems to be,' suggested Miss Pyke, 'that we should die for our own fun and not other people's.' 'Of course I admit,' said Miss Barton, rather angrily, 'that murder must be prevented and murderers kept from doing further harm. But they ought not to be punished and they certainly ought not to be killed.' 'I suppose they ought to be kept in hospitals at vast expense, along with other unfit specimens,' said Miss Edwards. 'Speaking as a biologist, I must say I think public money might be better employed. What with the number of imbeciles and physical wrecks we allow to go about and propagate their species, we shall end by devitalising whole nations.' 'Miss Schuster-Slatt would advocate sterilisation,' said the Dean. 'They're trying it in Germany, I believe,' said Miss Edwards. 'Together,' said Miss Hillyard, 'with the relegation of woman to her proper place in the home.' 'But they execute people there quite a lot,' said Wimsey, 'so Miss Barton can't take over their organisation lock, stock and barrel.'
`Were you really being as cautious and exacting about it as you would be about writing a passage of fine prose?’
‘That’s rather a difficult sort of comparison. One can’t, surely, deal with emotional excitements in that detached spirit’.
‘Isn’t the writing of good prose an emotional excitement?’
‘Yes, of course it is. At least, when you get the thing dead right and know it’s dead right, there’s no excitement like it. It’s marvellous. It makes you feel like God on the Seventh Day – for a bit, anyhow.’
‘Well, that’s what I mean. You expend the trouble and you don’t make any mistake – and then you experience the ecstasy. But if there’s any subject in which you’re content with the second-rate, then it isn’t really your subject.’
All the children seem to be coming out quite intelligent, thank goodness. It would have been such a bore to be the mother of morons, and it's an absolute toss-up, isn't it? If one could only invent them, like characters in books, it would be much more satisfactory to a well-regulated mind.
Detachment is a rare virtue, and very few people find it lovable, either in themselves or in others. If you ever find a person who likes you in spite of it--still more, because of it--that liking has very great value, because it is perfectly sincere, and because, with that person, you will never need to be anything but sincere yourself.
...never again would she mistake the will to feel for the feeling itself.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061043494, Mass Market Paperback)

When Harriet Vane attends her Oxford reunion, known as the "Gaudy," the prim academic setting is haunted by a rash of bizarre pranks: scrawled obsentities, burnt effigies and poison-pen letters -- including one that says, "Ask your boyfriend with the title if he likes arsenic in his soup."Some of the notes threaten murder; all are perfectly ghastly; yet in spite of their scurrilous nature, all are perfectly worded. And Harriet finds herself ensnared in a nightmare of romance and terror, with only the tiniest shreds of clues to challenge her powers of detection, and those of her paramour, Lord Peter Wimsey.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:47 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Harriet Vane's Oxford reunion is shadowed by a rash of bizarre pranks and malicious mischief that include beautifully worded death threats, burnt effigies and vicious poison-pen letters, and Harriet finds herself and Lord Peter Wimsey challenged by an elusive set of clues.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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