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10 thoughts on “Gaudy Night

  1. Meredith Holley Meredith Holley says:

    A couple of years ago I thought as a gesture to God saying something like “Hey we don’t disagree about everything and anyway what do I know about life?” that I would start going to a certain church where the pastor was an ex football star When I say it now it doesn’t sound like a very good idea but I did a lot of things at that time that sound stupid now Sometimes it’s better to go with what you know even if it’s very little I say all of this because the ultimate falling out I had with the pastor of that church reflects the central conflict of the great and wonderful mystery story Gaudy Night so I’m going to use this review as a venue to air my grievances which will hopefully be entertaining enough that you can bear with me In fact this book brings up a couple of stories I have about churches so I should probably say as a disclaimer that Gaudy Night is not religious at all in its topic but deals mostly with the role of women in society That just happens to be something about which I tend to get pissed off at churchesRather than preaching topically this football pastor had decided that the entire church which may not be fully of mega church size but is by no means small would read through the Bible together in a year like you do and he would pull the sermons from our reading assignments On Mother’s Day we had just finished the book of Esther so I was hopeful There are a lot of troubling things about Esther but also some really fascinating things Also it’s about a woman so there are many good ways you can go with that Nope I should have known he would skip Esther entirely only to pick a random section from Judges to illustrate his spiritual message which as far as I could tell was that he really liked when his mom would scratch his back before bedtime when he was in high school so women shouldn’t work because they’re silly and it takes away time they could devote to scratching their family’s backs As the sermon went on I felt sure there would be some kind of uprising in the congregation I was ready to get out my stash of pitchforks and torches and burn something down but I didn’t want to leave because I might miss the end of his message where I hoped he would reveal that he was faking us all out to prove some point or another His passion about the message culminated when he pulled out a uote from Some Woman who is reputed to have said “If all women CEOs uit their jobs men could feed their families” I looked around hoping to see the scores of other women in the audience who would be eually shocked and appalled rushing for the door when suddenly there was cheering and a woman in the back of the church yelled “AMEN” I don’t think I’ve ever felt so betrayed in my lifeThe redemptive “Psych” never came so I drove home in a rage pulled my copy of Backlash off its shelf wrote a letter of complaint to the pastor in its inside cover drove back to the church and slammed it on the desk in his empty office He never acknowledged the incidentI wish at this point I had read the book The Madwoman in the Attic so that I could give scholarly opinions about Gaudy Night From what I know of that line of analysis Dorothy Sayers’s villain in this novel the “poisen pen” haunting the women of Oxford is along the lines of the 19th century Madwoman think Jane Eyre She characterizes female sexuality but also a loathing of female sexuality as castrating and destructive so she is this horrifying repressed monster Grendel’s Mother maybe? In Gaudy Night this character terrorizes the cloistered professors in the women’s college at Oxford It really makes for a delightful read Sayers presents the varied personalities of the dons and students of the university with a lot of color and flair The fun and thoughtful discussion Dorothy Sayers presents in Gaudy Night on the topic of women being intelligent humans in their own right was vindicating and cathartic for me to read She illustrates both the freedom and the shame that successful women feel and does it in this funny charming British way that I adore Harriet Vane is wonderful Sayers doesn’t pretend that all women are in favor of having rights nor does she pretend that we are all a bunch of catty bitches Some characters do become savage in their hatred of independent women and those independent women become shrill in their suspicion of one another’s virginity or sexuality Sayers shows these aspects as momentary weaknesses however which are secondary to the overall trust and regard that the women show each other They are not caricatures but have their own flaws and charms I’m making this sound like the whole story is purposeful critical analysis which it may be but it definitely comes off as natural within the overall mystery story I don't even usually like mysteries and I don't have a sense of suspense so it is surprising how much I love this book but that's probably why the social aspect was striking to meI’m not fully with her in her use of classical uotations which I take as an Oxford thing Lord Peter Whimsey makes his appearance to be useful charming and supplicating He doesn’t appear to be an overly realistic character maybe too determinedly glad that Harriet is as smart as she is? but I am in favor of wonderful authors writing people as they wish them to be if not as they are – especially in the area of gender relations Also I love the way Sayers explores how women think of themselves It would have been an unnecessary distraction to go into what men think of us It was much devastating to hear the woman shout “Amen” at the back of that church than to hear the male pastor go on about how women are good at scratching backs and only that Anyway I think I’ve decided that maybe the use of classical uotations has to do with the battle of wits between Whimsey and Harriet showing the euality of their intelligence and education I like that even though it was frustrating for my pedestrian brain I think I needed the Norton editionI was given this book at a “housewarming shower” held for me by a really wonderful woman who is the pastor of a subseuent church I attended “Shower” because I am over 25 and unmarried and it is presumed that I would be sad that I haven’t had any weddingbaby showers Men were uninvited to the event and the humorous? theme of the “shower” was to give me books I would hate This made my friends who came a little stressed out because they know how much I love books so they felt all this pressure contrary to the theme to get me books I would love that I hadn’t read yet Also to me showerbad Other than stuff on my cat I think this was the most successful book from that evening and it actually makes all of the uncomfortable female judgment worth it I kind of love that this book was given to me in this really awkward event that only women were allowed to come to Even though the evening was pretty fun and I really do love most of the women who came the concept of the shower said so much about my “failure” in being an independent educated woman This book has so much to say to the contrary I love irony

  2. James James says:

    Book Review 4 of 5 stars to Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers a strong and talented writer of detective mysteries in their Golden Age of publication This was truly an excellent book Upon finishing my third year at college I'd taken all the reuired courses and a variety of electives to complete my double majors My advisors and professors knowing I had an affinity for reading and writing mystery stories encouraged me to do an independent study on this era of literature; but they also told me I wouldn't be allowed to select any of the books I had to read She would pick two per month for me to read and discuss And this was one of the very first ones she was a big Dorothy Sayers fan and thought this was the author's most popular book Despite it being in the middle of a series which I severely dislike I read it without enjoying the prior installments And it turned out OKThough it's hailed as a Lord Peter Wimsey book it's really about Harriet Vane young wife accused and jailed for murdering her husband; but she's been released when Wimsey proves her innocence And they begin their own little flirtation and romance Harriet goes on to be a writer and plans to visit her alma mater a women's college in the 1930s what an intriguing concept Full of some feminism some mystery some romance some education I loved it even tho at times it was a little too eyes slanted down one's nose for my tasteThe writing is fantastic The mystery is complex And it's about proving false clues sometimes revisiting them but always applying sound logic Sayers helped pave the way for many future female authors of detective stories Christie is still my preference but I thoroughly enjoyed Sayers' approach and character creation If you enjoy 75 year old stories give this one a chance It's really uite psychological and introspective About Me For those new to me or my reviews here's the scoop I read A LOT I write A LOT And now I blog A LOT First the book review goes on Goodreads and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at where you'll also find TV Film reviews the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the whowhatwhenwhere and my pictures Leave a comment and let me know what you think Vote in the poll and ratings Thanks for stopping by Note All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them Many thanks to their original creators

  3. Jaline Jaline says:

    Published in 1936 this 12th novel in the Lord Peter Wimsey Series is a big story Dorothy L Sayers created an entire women’s college called Shrewsbury in the large complex known as Oxford University It is near an associate college called ueen’s and also near Balliol College which is where Lord Peter Wimsey attended his university years With Oxford University composed of 38 colleges and 6 Permanent Private Halls it is not difficult to imagine Ms Sayers’ invention taking its place easily among the othersHarriet Vane is invited to her class reunion known as a Gaudy She has not gone before but decides to do so this time in answer to pleas from some of her former classmates She surprises herself by enjoying the time away from home and renewing relations with various dons Fellows and classmates At the end of Gaudy night she finds an offensive drawing on the grounds of the uad She also finds an ominous note in the rolled up sleeve of her gownWhen she returns home she dives back in to writing her most recent novel which has been giving her trouble Then she receives a letter from the Dean of Shrewsbury Miss Martin who tells her about some ominous incidents that have been occurring since Gaudy Night Poison Pen notes things set on fire random vandalism and so forth The Dean asks if Harriet Vane has any idea what it might be aboutHarriet responds that she will return to the College and see if she can do anything to helpThis is where we receive a taste of academic life that would be nostalgic for those who had gone to University and like entering a new and fascinating world for those who had not gone to University The discussions cover the gamut from literary topics to history to philosophy and science I was obliged to search out many topics and references on the computer and had some great adventuresBoth a reminiscence and reminder for some people as much as it is a new adventure for others yet underlying the academia we have this mystery – who is causing all the turmoil and terrors – and why? The focus seems to be the Seniors Common Room so even the Dean Treasurer Warden Bursar and other dons and Fellows in the group are under suspicion Gradually as further incidents occur Harriet is able to start eliminating suspects based on cast iron alibis but it is a slow and laborious process Lord Peter is away on the continent – Rome and Warsaw – and as Harriet Vane progresses in her investigations she documents the details in a notebook However a couple of attempts to hurt or kill people are causing her to wonder if she is eual to the task of finding this person before it’s too late After a few frightening incidents Harriet decides she can’t do this alone and persuades the Dean to allow her to contact her “detecting friend” for helpI love it when these books include both Lord Peter and Harriet Vane Their chemistry is fascinating and over the five years of their acuaintance their individual personal growth is most closely observed when they are working on a mystery togetherThis book is not a fluff piece or even close to being a ‘cozy’ mystery or ‘classic’ mystery for that matter This book stretched and expanded my mind Dorothy L Sayers is in a class of her own – intellectually she doesn’t hold back Psychologically and even scientifically she is well ahead of the pack in both what she knows and how she writes Until I lost my bookmarks and annotations I was going to end this review with a brilliant uote about women that made me uestion how far have we travelled really with feminism? Keeping in mind that this book was written 83 years ago the answer is not very far Or – maybe Dorothy L Sayers and her own set of classmates were simply decades ahead of the rest of the world

  4. Lightreads Lightreads says:

    I hesitate to call this ‘a Lord Peter book’ Peter is here certainly though in lesser proportion than you might expect considering he changes in uiet but extraordinary ways But this book is rightly and greatly Harriet Vane’s as she returns to the Oxford college of her education to do some academic work write her next novel and investigate some nasty disturbances around the collegeOh For Oxford alone which I love I could love this book Luckily however there are any number of other reasons This is a book about pain about the heart and the mind working in opposition about academia about the perils of being an intelligent woman about the perils of unthinking feminism about mistakes about love Harriet has been trampled over by the world and left in the mud and I love how Sayers understands the way she would snap and snarl at the first hand that reached out to help her and resent its very kindness Harriet wants to stop hurting and she thinks she knows howIf only one could come back to this uiet place where only intellectual achievement counted if one could work here steadily and obscurely at some close knit piece of reasoning undistracted and uncorrupted abolishing personal contacts personal spites personal jealousies getting one’s teeth into something dull and durable maturing into solidity like the Shrewsbury beeches then one might be able to forget the wreck and chaos of the past or see it at any rate in a truer proportionIt’s a beautiful thought and it’s all the ways that academia is not like this that will keep me away In this book it’s a painfully direct uestion given the social climate of the times between academia and marriage It’s a practical result of separated colleges of course but also a fundamental observation about the ways that female achievement can become a barrier in and of itself “ the rule seemed to be that a great woman must either die unwed or find a still greater man to marry her” And though the exact correlations of virginity and academia do not apply to us today the idea of woman having to choose between achievement and relationships still resonates eighty years later Hell just ask Time Magazine apparentlyBut it’s complex for Harriet who tried living by the heart once before with disastrous conseuences This book is about her learning to use her heart again but to do it in balance with the mind She is coming to know that passion and reason are not antithetical that applying the second to the first makes them both greater not less Peter is learning the same thing from the other side of the coin as Harriet refuses his proposals again and again and again and he comes to know that simply wanting and asking are an exercise of privilege and not the extent of love“It’s the pressure of other people’s personalities that does the mischief”“Yes You may say you won’t interfere with another person’s soul but you do merely by existing The snag about it is the practical difficulty so to speak of not existing” They both know how awful love can be when it is all heart or all brain when it presses and demands and makes sacrifices and then says “now what will you do for me in return?” They are both just growing into the awareness that there is another wayI think above all the thing I admire most in this book is the way it practices what it preaches Sayers’ brain is here as it always has been but for perhaps the first time her heart is too Harriet her partial avatar is also learning that the heart is reuired in eual measure in writing as in love – in any work of importance“You would have to abandon the jigsaw kind of story and write a book about human beings for a change”“I’m afraid to try that Peter It might go to near the bone”“It might be the wisest thing you could do”“Write it out and get rid of it?”“Yes”“I’ll think about that It would hurt like hell”“What would that matter if it made a good book?”I won’t go into Sayers’ biography here But as Peter says “you can’t keep the feeling out” The beauty of this book is the way Sayers is here unashamedly honestly with enough distance to be lucid and thoughtful but enough heart still in it to hurt and to matter And that’s the point of the book – writing like that Is writing well and living like that is living well

  5. Susan Susan says:

    This year I finally decided to read all of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels I have read the first few many times but for whatever reason I never continued the series I have always heard that “Gaudy Night” was her best novel and so I was really intrigued to read this book and was interested to see how the character of Harriet Vane would develop Indeed Harriet is the central character in this novel which sees her returning to Oxford to attend the Shrewsbury Gaudy after being invited by a friend who was about to go abroad for an operation Harriet always loved her time at Oxford but was nervous about returning especially after events covered in a previous book where she was accused of killing a former lover Gathering her courage Harriet decides to go and actually enjoys her time there although it is marred when she discovers an anonymous note which is less than flattering Back in London she receives a letter from the Dean inviting her to the opening of a new library wing and mentioning that the college has had an outbreak of a poltergeist and a poison pen writer; suggesting that Harriet’s own note was not a one offWhen Harriet returns to the cloistered world of academia and the women’s college she previously studied at it is clear that things are not well Someone is mischief making and before long Harriet wishes she could consult Peter – who is away in Europe dealing with the difficult political situation unravelling abroad This novel reminded me a little of Nicholas Blake’s “Malice in Wonderland” which also involves a prankster although set in an early holiday camp rather than a fictitious Oxford college whose tricks gradually gets and out of hand Like this that novel is set in the 1930’s with the threat of war as an undercurrent and like this the novel also features crimes which are not the usual murders and mayhem but are unpleasant nonetheless Although this is not a traditional murder mystery I found this a really riveting read I thought the insight into how women’s education was viewed between the wars very interesting; either the women were seen as unnatural or they were viewed with a benign tolerance Likewise this is the novel where the relationship between Harriet and Peter changes which is obviously especially interesting if you have followed the books in order I enjoyed meeting the female scholars and other characters including Peter’s nephew I also loved the Oxford setting and thought it worked really well A really interesting read and if not my favourite of the books so far certainly among the best

  6. David David says:

    What is the deal with lady detective fiction writers? Why create a brilliant memorable central female protagonist totally capable of bringing teh awesome only to undermine her by having her mope around after some overbred aristocratic prat? Case in point that whole Havers Linley dynamic would be infinitely healthier had detective Havers given pompous assed golden boy Linley a good kick in the yarbles the very first time he tried to pull the whole tired aristo boy superiority trick to put her in her place Given the choice between Havers and Linley I know who I’d want to have my back and it wouldn’t be the effete aristocrat no matter how hard Elizabeth George tries to protray him as a sensitive noble brilliant soul But it’s Havers I feel sorry for – she really deserves betterIf you believe as I do that George’s apparent infatuation with her idealized aristocrat ultimately weakens the Havers Linley stories then what to make of the hero worship that permeates the entire Peter Wimsey series? After all isn’t Harriet Vane just an obvious stand in for her creator making Lord Peter nothing than a vehicle for the vicarious fulfilment of Dorothy L Sayers’s own romantic fantasies? Or to use the terms I just recently learned from the infinitely amusing but beware it’s a complete timesuck “Television Tropes and Idioms” website isn’t Peter just the uintessential example of the Blue Blood trope in response to Harriet’s Author Avatar?Well no Not really Although Harriet Vane surely reflects her creator to some degree something Sayers vigorously denied it would be reductive to regard the character as nothing than an author avatar Sayers’s personal life was actually uite romantically adventurous though this was not generally known during her lifetime More importantly Dorothy L Sayers was smart as all get out when she translated Dante she respected that terza rima not like some wusses one could mention – yeah I’m talking about you Professor Ciardi Any way you look at it Harriet Vane rocks out loud and on lingonberry toast And while I personally find it hard to take Lord Peter seriously at least he has the virtue of being vaguely amusing and nowhere near the kind of pompous ass that Inspector Linley manages to be “Gaudy Night” is my favorite of all the HarrietPeter books There’s no murder but the stakes are high nonetheless Poison pen letters and obscene effigies are being used to target the female scholars of a prestigious Oxford college Sayers’s depiction of the mounting fear and disruption and of the emotions swirling beneath the veneer of academic rationalism is riveting Lord Peter is relatively scarce so Harriet is center stage for most of the story It’s a neat story expertly told with that irresistible Oxford setting You can appreciate it without knowing anything about campanology or mithridatism And if you do happen to care about the trajectory of the Harriet Peter relationship then the ending of “Gaudy Night” will surely warrum the cockles of your sentimental heart This is Dorothy L Sayers at her best EG is not the only authoress to consign her sleuth heroine to an unsatisfying emotional limbo Consider Jacueline Winspear creator of the delightful Maisie Dobbs series In five or six meticulously researched well written generally tightly constructed stories Ms Winspear tracks the exploits of her charming plucky protagonist Maisie during World War I and the decade immediately following Despite the odd lapse placement of the telling historical detail is sometimes a little heavy handed the high minded purity of motivation of Maisie and her friends can be excessive at times Ms Winspear delivers the goods – stories in the series are reliably entertaining But across a timespan of 15 years the heroine is allowed little than the occasional chaste peck on the cheek; for the decade or so after the end of the war the only release outlet for her emotional energy was through occasional visits to her irreversibly shell shocked sweetheart mercifully killed off in the fourth or fifth book The unremitting bleakness of the emotional landscape Ms Winspear imagines for her protagonist is really starting to get me down though I understand she may be making a point about life after the Great War for women in Maisie’s demographic cohort Actually the Sayers translation is not particularly readable but I give her points for effort TVTropes has much to say about Lord Peter some of it uite penetrating

  7. Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* says:

    35 stars for Gaudy Night by Dorothy L SayersThere was much to like about this book Sayers characterisation was as always uite superb She lays a meandering trail of red herrings which she mainly disproves then brings back into the realm of possibility I learnt a lot about Oxford life there is really nothing with which to compare it in NZ and what little I knew of it previously came from MorseBut this seemed to be an exceedingly long book Not that it was boring because it most certainly was not but there seemed to be so much 'filler' for lack of a better term Somewhere I read that Sayers is known for her attention to detail In Gaudy Night I think she has given it just a little too much attention Had I been her editor I would have had my red pencil outHarriet Vane returns to Oxford for Gaudy Night with some trepidation and is drawn into solving a Poison Pen mystery Senior Common Room in Shrewsbury are being targeted with anonymous vile accusations threats and damage to their possessions One student attempts suicide as a result of the hate campaign and members of the SCR find themselves fearful and distrusting old friends and colleagues as suspicion and rumours spreadLord Peter is not in evidence until some 23 of the way through the book We meet his delightful but dissolute nephew the Viscount Saint George who takes a shine to Harriet and nominates her his honorary 'aunt'Harriet sees a new side to Peter and finds herself reconsidering her position in his lifeThis isn't my favourite Sayer but yes I enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to the next in the series

  8. Ana Lopes Miura Ana Lopes Miura says:

    Oh my GOD Dorothy L Sayers is uite the snob 2011 has been Mystery Year it being when I started officially working as an attorney and having to read just to be entertained and this piece of crap made me want to swear off British whodunits forever Luckily Dame Agatha and Ngaio Marsh still deliver The truth is I like my mysteries to be about murders and this fricking bore was a crappy ¨who sent those ghastly tastleless anonymous letters¨ affair No murders about and by page 20 I was ready for the main character to be murdered in the bloodiest fashion imaginable

  9. Cindy Rollins Cindy Rollins says:

    This review is for the Ian Carmichael audio version which is excellent I am also reading it at a seperate time in print for our podcast The Literary Life Podcast is a delightful reading of a thoughtful masterful book Perhaps the best Lord Peter Wimsey novel of Dorothy L Sayers although from here on out they are all wonderful even the short stories

  10. Margaret Margaret says:

    Gaudy Night is easily my favorite of Dorothy L Sayers's beloved series of Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries It's one of the last in the series and thus hard to talk about without spoiling earlier books as it deals with the resolution of the relationship between Lord Peter and Harriet Vane the mystery writer first introduced in Strong Poison and seen again in Have His Carcase If you've read no Sayers please read at least those two books before reading Gaudy Night as otherwise you'll be missing a lot Gaudy Night is told almost wholly from Harriet's point of view and in fact Lord Peter doesn't even appear until than halfway through the book When Harriet attends a reunion at Shrewsbury her Oxford college she receives a nasty anonymous note Later when the poison pen returns and starts to play other pranks the Dean and the Warden invite Harriet to return to Shrewsbury to investigate the incidents; eventually Harriet calls in Lord Peter as wellThe mystery is certainly intriguing but what really speaks to me about Gaudy Night is its investigation into different ideas of marriage and of woman's place in the world The vicious anonymous letters are directed against the female dons who are necessarily unmarried a reuirement at the time and cause great debates among them As Harriet struggles to discover who the anonymous letter writer is she also struggles to figure out how to maintain her sense of independence and of self in the face of her growing love for Peter It's a fascinating debate as relevant now as it was when Gaudy Night was published almost seventy years ago

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Gaudy Night [PDF / Epub] ★ Gaudy Night Author Dorothy L. Sayers – När den unga detektivromanförfattarinnan Harriet Vane far till Oxford för att på sitt gamla college träffa kamrater från studietiden får hon ett hotfullt anonymt meddelande Detta blir upptakten När den unga detektivromanförfattarinnan Harriet Vane far till Oxford för att på sitt gamla college träffa kamrater från studietiden får hon ett hotfullt anonymt meddelande Detta blir upptakten till en kuslig serie brott vars upphovsman först kan avslöjas med hjälp av Lord Peter Wimseys hela psykologiska skarpsinne och slutledningsförmågaFörutom en osedvanligt spännande kriminalgåta ger Dorothy Sayers en charmfull bild av studentlivets Oxford och visar prov på sin fina människokunskap i skildringen av Harriet Vanes och Lord Peters problematiska kärlekshistoria.