robyn's Reviews > Gaudy Night

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
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May 10, 11

bookshelves: mystery, love, perfect-books

If Harriet Vane has been difficult to love in this series, no longer. By putting her on her own ground - Oxford - where she can meet Peter on a more even footing, and display a capacity for self-knowledge and graciousness that was wholly lacking in the last adventure, Sayers negated a lot of Harriet's defensive prickliness. I read this book in a day - and not because it was a rollicking adventure or a short read, but because it is SO well-written that I didn't want to put it down. I cared passionately about the success of Peter's suit, and the book's intellectual courtship/investigation into something that seems such a negligible crime, but which in Sayers' capable hands (remember that most of Holmes' cases didn't involve actual crimes) makes for a riveting psychological study.

This book was my introduction to people who talk in quotations. I've seen it done since, with varying degrees of success, but probably never as well as it's done by Sayers. Busman's Honeymoon is even better.

If Harriet Vane was difficult to love, Lord Peter Wimsey should have been harder. He started out as a paper construct and by the time he appears in Gaudy Night, has become a real person. Quite a feat on Ms Sayers' part. If she fell in love with him, as some contend, I don't blame her! In the end he is eminently loveable.

So, so good. I went on from this to reading every Wimsey adventure available, and from them to Campion, and then Brother Cadfael, Inspector Alleyn... basically the entire Mystery! canon. They make up the spine and stomach of my library; my house is full of books, but these are on the shelf beside my bed, the place of honor.
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