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Gaudy Night

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years, 6 months ago

Sayers, Dorothy L - Gaudy Night (1935)



Review by Nick Fuller


When I first read Gaudy Night at the age of thirteen, I found it extremely dull and pompous, stuffed with pretentious conversation and without a murder; above all, it was (shudder!) a romance, and hence only suited for sex-starved females of dubious intellectual capacity. Eight years later, older, wiser and intellectually more mature, I am able to recognise it for what it is: very long, very talky, and very, very good. It scores full marks as both a novel and a detective story. The whole story is nearly all seen from the perspective of Harriet Vane (apart from a few brief scenes from Wimsey’s), who has returned to Oxford for the Gaudy, and finds herself called back to investigate a poltergeist-cum-poison-pen. The villain is extremely well hidden, but satisfying and inevitable: the motive is the logical consequence of all that has gone before: all the careful presentation of a way of life, a world, and the intelligent discussions of women’s place in the world and of principle vs. loyalty. The themes and the plot march hand in hand—as it appears Harriet and Wimsey walk towards the altar.

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