Hello, book fans—hope y’all are doing well. This review is on Dorothy Sayers’s novel, Gaudy Night, which is part of her Peter Wimsey mystery series. This installment, set in 1935, centers not on detective Wimsey, but his love interest, Harriet Vane.

Harriet is a former student at Shrewsbury women’s college at Oxford. She returns to help solve a campus mystery that involves events from petty crimes up to personal assault. To catch the perp, Harriet not only has to grapple with an army of administrators (themselves also under suspicion), but also with her own feelings and thoughts on Oxford. The novel presents a classic psychological battle, personified uniquely, between head and heart. Sayers interweaves this dichotomy into 20th century debates about women’s proper roles to create compelling arguments on either side of the coin. Ultimately, Harriet makes a decision that involves emotion and intellect, though it’s not until the literal end of the book, which makes the suspense hold until the last page.

Sayers’ description of university campuses is beautiful. The one shortcoming I noticed is her lack of physical description of the characters. Numerous faculty because indistinguishable in my mind from one another. The story is dramatic and fun—not just intellectual; and there is also a love narrative, as well. Gaudy Night runs a little long, at 528 pages; still, it’s a relaxing read to take in several sessions. I give it 4.5/5 stars.

And now, for the favorite quotes section. Tell me in the comments what your favorite aspect of reading, or education in general, is!

(xii): “For, however realistic the background, the novelist’s only native country is Cloud-Cuckooland, where they do but jest, poison in jest: no offence in the world.”

(16): “‘It would have been such a bore to be the mother of morons, and it’s an absolute toss-up, isn’t it? If only one could invent them, like characters in books, it would be much more satisfactory to a well-regulated mind.’”

(38): “The moon was up, painting the buildings with cold washes of black and silver whose austerity rebuked the yellow gleam of lighted windows behind which old friends reunited still made merry with talk and laughter.”

(201): “I suppose one oughtn’t to marry anybody, unless one’s prepared to make him a full-time job.”

(255): “In the meanwhile she had got her mood onto paper—and this is the release that all writers, even the feeblest, seek for as men seek for love; and, having found it, they doze off happily into dreams and trouble their hearts no further.”

(340): “How fleeting are all human passions compared with the massive continuity of ducks.”

(389): “Into the horrified silence that followed, Peter dropped three words like lumps of ice.”  

Thanks for reading, guys! Have a good day. 🙂


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