Friday, November 10, 2006

Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers

Title: Gaudy Night
Author: Dorothy Sayers

“Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?”

“So easy that, to tell the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober. Which accounts for my talking so much.”

While attending her Oxford reunion (known as the “Gaudy”), Harriet Vane finds a nasty anonymous note tucked into the sleeve of her gown: “You dirty murderess. Aren’t you ashamed to show your face?” Soon, similar pranks are breaking out all over the college. The new library is vandalized, the body of a female don is hung in effigy, and more notes attacking female academics are found. As a Senior Member of the college (and yes, reading this book will teach you quite a bit about British academia), Harriet is asked to discretely investigate the pranks before something…more serious…occurs.

Gaudy Night is one of the great classics of detective fiction even though Lord Peter doesn’t make a sustained appearance until about half-way through the novel. For most of the time he’s abroad on some mysterious diplomatic mission for the Foreign Office. Instead, it’s Harriet who’s running the show.

And Harriet has a lot more than the “poltergeist” to deal with. Questions of academic integrity frequently raise their head, and the importance of doing one’s proper work in the world. There’s her own scandalous past to confront, and – of course – the regular proposals of marriage coming from Lord Peter in the post.

Sayers’ writing in Gaudy Night is simply gorgeous. The language is leisurely, and you really get to sink into the scholarly atmosphere of 1930s Oxford. And this book is simply overflowing with dark, complex emotions. I devoured it upon a first reading, and have revisited it several times since. If I can get even one of you to read and enjoy this book (kat, I think, is my most likely victim), I will consider this entire blogging adventure to be a success!

posted by Elizabeth at 7:40 PM


Blogger Kat said...

it won't be the first time i've been one of your victims. *cough* headlock *cough*

i'm not so sure you'll succeed in getting me to read Sayers.... i can barely seem to finish any books as it is. whoops. :o)

11/12/2006 2:47 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Love holds, m'dear, they were merely love holds.

And you'll never know that you won't finish if you don't start, right? :) :) :)

11/12/2006 9:23 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Love holds? Are you off your rocker?! Crazy woman!

I suppose not. Maybe I'll get to it eventually.... :)

11/13/2006 8:25 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Oh, honey, the rocker fell off the porch a long time ago...

11/13/2006 7:54 PM  
Blogger reyn said...

I'm really enjoying this exchange. Such banter! Such repartee! Such potential for somebody to get clocked! (or at least to cross their eyes and make crazyravinglunatic noises)

11/14/2006 8:59 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

elizabeth - you must have really dented your noggin. :D

reyn - chick fight!

/crosses eyes and makes crazyravinglunatic noises/

11/14/2006 2:10 PM  
Blogger reyn said...

You mean you're getting in on this, too??

This blog is the best idea I EVER had.

11/14/2006 2:25 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

getting in on it, too? i started the fight by mentioning the headlock! (although i suspect it's not really a "fight")

this blog was definitely a great idea though! i'm trying very hard to read more books, i promise. :)

11/14/2006 2:37 PM  

Post a Comment