Elly's Reviews > Gaudy Night

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
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's review
Aug 25, 2013

it was amazing
I own a copy

This wasn't the first Dorothy L Sayers book I read; it might have been Clouds of Witness followed by The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. From there I read anything written by her that I could get my hands on, but it was actually looking into her quotations, authors and places she mentioned which opened up a whole new world of learning for me. In which world would I have even heard of the word 'incunabula'? English not being my mother tongue, I hadn't heard of many of the authors Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane discussed, let alone John Donne but discovering his poetry was like opening a door to a new universe for me. From then on each book took me to a new place, a new experience and expanded my horizons. Reading Dorothy L Sayers took away the feeling of inpropriety I'd grown up with for reading 'crime' novels, because it wasn't crime per se, but a journey into literature.

The fact that she uses French, Latin, German and Greek and doesn't deem to translate for us, rather than labeling her a snob, as some critics have, made me strive to study more, to understand the background of her subjects, to read up on painters, authors, poets - a challenge I don't get from the average author. You could say that her alleged snobbishness became an incentive for me to learn more.

In the spiritual and theological sense she made me step out of my unquestioning traditional upbringing and to dare to question, dare to ask God some tough questions, see someone else's struggle with grace, and the pressure to be constantly grateful - unable to repay what someone's done for you. Her journey with God challenged me as equally as the journey she took me on to expand my mind and learning. Her religious writings are equally challenging and inspiring as her novels. As Ellery Queen said: "Sayers has done more to add literary tone to crime fiction than most of her contemporaries'. She elevated the genre.

Visiting Oxford for the first time last year was a spiritual experience for me because of her. I now read her books right through every couple of years, and I get something new out of them each time.

As someone in these comments has said, don't go into this book with pre conceived ideas; I recommend you go into it with an open mind and a desire to learn something new.

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