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Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey #12)

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  16,600 Ratings  ·  1,213 Reviews
Gaudy Night stands out even among Miss Sayers’s novels. And Miss Sayers has long stood in a class by herself.”
Times Literary Supplement

The great Dorothy L. Sayers is considered by many to be the premier detective novelist of the Golden Age, and her dashing sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey, one of mystery fiction’s most enduring and endearing protagonists. Acclaimed author Ruth
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Paperback, 501 pages
Published March 16th 1995 by HarperTorch (first published 1935)
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Popular Answered Questions

robyn I don't know if I WOULD read this one first. It's my favorite, but it's very dense, and it's the wind-up of the main character's relationship with…moreI don't know if I WOULD read this one first. It's my favorite, but it's very dense, and it's the wind-up of the main character's relationship with someone he met a few books back.

If you want to try Sayers on for size, you might try an earlier one like Murder Must Advertise or The Nine Tailors, both of which are excellent.

It's not that you'd regret reading Gaudy Night, it's the first one I ever read as well, and I went on to read everything in the series. But I had watched the Mystery! adaption, so I was familiar with the characters' interactions prior to that particular story.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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James
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Book Review
4 of 5 stars to Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers, a strong and talented writer of detective mysteries in their Golden Age of publication. This was truly an excellent book. Upon finishing my third year at college, I'd taken all the required courses and a variety of electives to complete my double majors. My advisors and professors, knowing I had an affinity for reading and writing mystery stories, encouraged me to do an independent study on this era of literature; but they also to
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Sparrow
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: smart women
Recommended to Sparrow by: Shelley Harvey
A couple of years ago I thought (as a gesture to God saying something like, “Hey, we don’t disagree about everything and anyway what do I know about life?”) that I would start going to a certain church where the pastor was an ex-football star. When I say it now it doesn’t sound like a very good idea, but I did a lot of things at that time that sound stupid now. Sometimes it’s better to go with what you know, even if it’s very little. I say all of this because the ultimate falling-out I had with ...more
Lightreads
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I hesitate to call this ‘a Lord Peter book.’ Peter is here, certainly, though in lesser proportion than you might expect, considering he changes in quiet but extraordinary ways. But this book is rightly and greatly Harriet Vane’s, as she returns to the Oxford college of her education to do some academic work, write her next novel, and investigate some nasty disturbances around the college.

Oh. For Oxford alone, which I love, I could love this book. Luckily, however, there are any number of other
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David
Aug 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
What is the deal with lady detective fiction writers? Why create a brilliant, memorable central female protagonist, totally capable of bringing teh awesome, only to undermine her by having her mope around after some overbred aristocratic prat? Case in point: that whole Havers-Linley dynamic would be infinitely healthier had detective Havers given pompous-assed golden boy Linley a good kick in the yarbles the very first time he tried to pull the whole tired aristo-boy superiority trick to put her ...more
Susan
This year I finally decided to read all of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels. I have read the first few many times, but, for whatever reason, I never continued the series. I have always heard that “Gaudy Night” was her best novel and so I was really intrigued to read this book and was interested to see how the character of Harriet Vane would develop. Indeed, Harriet is the central character in this novel, which sees her returning to Oxford, to attend the Shrewsbury Gaudy, after being invited by a fri ...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
3.5 stars for Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers.

There was much to like about this book. Sayers characterisation was, as always, quite superb. She lays a meandering trail of red herrings which she mainly disproves, then brings back into the realm of possibility. I learnt a lot about Oxford life - there is really nothing with which to compare it in NZ, and what little I knew of it previously came from Morse.

But this seemed to be an exceedingly long book. Not that it was boring, because it most cert
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Margaret
Gaudy Night is easily my favorite of Dorothy L. Sayers's beloved series of Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. It's one of the last in the series and thus hard to talk about without spoiling earlier books, as it deals with the resolution of the relationship between Lord Peter and Harriet Vane, the mystery writer first introduced in Strong Poison and seen again in Have His Carcase. (If you've read no Sayers, please read at least those two books before reading Gaudy Night, as otherwise you'll be missing ...more
Nikki
Sep 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over a year ago now, Lord Peter pretty much saved my life. I was hysterical and still half under anaesthesia; the nurses were unsympathetic; I have an anxiety disorder as it is, let alone when I'm in a great deal of pain with insufficient morphine. My blood oxygen levels were catastrophic, even with pure oxygen. My mother forced her way onto the ward and held my hand. When they made her go, my blood oxygenation was up a little, but not much; she didn't let them send her away until she'd put her ...more
Jane
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where I got the book: my bookshelf. This is a 1940 Gollancz edition I picked up somewhere and I absolutely love it because no matter where you are in the story, the book lays flat and keeps its place. I get so impatient with books that won't stay open.

The story: five years after being erroneously accused--and then, thanks to Lord Peter Wimsey, acquitted--of murdering her lover, Harriet Vane is getting on with her life as a writer and puzzling over what she's going to do about Lord Peter: push hi
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Sarah Funke Donovan
Apr 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like mystery, intrigue, and a jolly good show of wit
Shelves: classics
Are you in love with dashing, fastidious, brilliant, Bach-performing, manuscript-collecting, sonnet-writing, puzzle-solving, Dickens-quoting, cricket-playing, fabulously wealthy, well-traveled, aristocratic detectives? Then this is the book for you...

Although this is really the third book in the Harriet Vane/Lord Peter Wimsey series (after Strong Poison and Have His Carcase), it is my favorite. Anyone who has been to Oxford will appreciate the detailed descriptions. Anyone who has ever been a wo
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Ana Lopes
Oct 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
Oh, my GOD, Dorothy L. Sayers is quite the snob! 2011 has been Mystery Year, it being when I started officially working as an attorney and having to read just to be entertained and this piece of crap made me want to swear off British whodunits forever. Luckily, Dame Agatha and Ngaio Marsh still deliver.

The truth is, I like my mysteries to be about murders and this fricking bore was a crappy who sent those ghastly, tastleless anonymous letters affair. No murders about, and by page 20 I was ready
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Nandakishore Varma
Lord Peter Wimsey is not the quintessential sleuth. He has a beginning, middle and presumably an end – by which I mean he develops as a character throughout the novels, unlike Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot who resolutely stay as their eccentric selves from their first story to the last. Of course, there is a chronological progression of events; and Poirot actually dies; however as characters they are static. In contrast, we see Wimsey age and mature from a frivolous youth to an idiosyncrati ...more
Madeline
Sep 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As I've said numerous times before, I love Lord Peter Wimsey. He's funny, a brilliant detective, and he peppers his speech with Shakespearan quotations the way I pepper mine with Simpsons quotes. He can always amuse and amaze me, but up until this point, that was extent of my fascination. Before I read Gaudy Night, I had always thought of Lord Peter mainly as an amusing, almost caricature detective. I had thought of him, simply, as a character. After Gaudy Night, however, I can't think of him th ...more
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
sharon
I first read this book as a junior or senior in high school, shortly after I'd been introduced to Sayers' writing and was making my way through all of the Wimsey mysteries. I remember being vaguely annoyed at the time that the whodunnit aspect of the book seemed so downplayed and that I couldn't seem to keep all the characters straight, though I found the romance between Harriet and Peter fascinating and encouraging given that I was a bookish teenager wondering if there were guys who liked smart ...more
Abigail Bok
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Can I give this book more than 5 stars? What a tour de force.

In Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers follows not her usual hero, Lord Peter Wimsey, but instead his longtime love, Harriet Vane. Harriet is reluctantly persuaded to visit her old college at Oxford for its Gaudy Night celebrations. There she finds two vicious anonymous notes, one of them pushed into the sleeve of her academic gown! She returns to London, only to be called back a few months later by the administration; the college is being pl
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Shobhit Sharad
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, detective
This is my second Peter Wimsey book, and though this is considered the best by Dorothy L. Sayers, after reading the book I realised that I should have read a few preceding books as to get a clearer understanding of what's happening in his life. Fortunately enough, the book had very less of him and the protagonist was Harriet Vane, in the setting of Oxford.

I loved Harriet Vane. After a point in the book, I wanted the mystery to be solved by her and was quite ready to forsake the protagonist of t
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Katie
Like I said in a status update, this is a great book that I'm going to have to re-read to fully appreciate. So this probably won't be a very in depth review.

Of course, (view spoiler)

Also, (view spoiler)

The ending was great and I AM SO EXCITED FOR THE NEXT
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Andrea
I hereby dub this review: "In need of a good stupping".

This is the second mystery that Harriet and Peter investigate 'together' – and by together I mean that Harriet spends quite a time collecting facts, and Peter does all the analysis and deduction. Indeed, he spots the culprit almost immediate on reading the evidence, quickly takes steps to verify it, and does what he can to obtain what little proof is possible.

The primary question of the book is women – intellectual women particularly – and t
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Dfordoom
Jun 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-mystery
Oxford has provided the background to many detective stories, and it’s a great setting for a crime novel. What interesting about Gaudy Night is that Sayers doesn’t just use it as background - the human and professional dramas afflicting the women of Shrewsbury College are the real meat of the book. You could argue that the detective story in this case is merely the background detail! Sayers is attempting something quite ambitious for 1936 - this is a detective story, a love story, and a serious ...more
Althea Ann
Aug 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Only the second I've read in this series (the other was 'Strong Poison') and it's a very, very different book. Where 'Strong Poison' is a pretty standard, classic mystery, 'Gaudy Night' is (it seems) almost an autobiographical novel, with a mystery shoehorned in.

I loved, loved, loved every detail of what it was like to be a female student at Oxford back in the day (Sayers attended from 1912-1915). It's a vivid, realistic, and very human depiction of the academics and their day-to-day lifestyle,
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Kim
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love this novel. The mystery is well-done, but other issues take precedence. The relationship between Peter and Harriet, the role of women, the conflict between the intellectual and the emotional life are all explored with skill and passion. I have read Gaudy Night a number of times over the years and I have appreciated it more with each reading. This is the book (along with Jude the Obscure!!) which first made me want to visit Oxford and which never fails to make me wish that I had attended u ...more
Jan C
This is probably the fourth I have read this. But I can't remember it taking me this long before. I still enjoyed it.

It must have been quite a while since I didn't remember who the suspect was. Love her rant! (All of the suspects are women.)

This one takes place at Oxford. Harriet is working on one of her books. Suddenly there are poison pen letters, mischievous goings on, etc. Finally she suggests that perhaps her friend Lord Peter can help resolve the problem.
Loederkoningin
Jan 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Reading Gaudy Night felt a bit like driving on a crowded snail-speed bus, with all these fancy looking cars with number plates as Howl's Moving Castle, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Shadow of the Wind passing me by. I could not resist asking for rides, only to reluctantly hop back onto the bus at the next intersection.
Yet in theory there is so much to like about this book. Starting with the fact that it was highly recommended by someone who mentioned that Waking the Moon (a persona
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Genia Lukin
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
After wading through what seemed like heaps of dubiously feminist Victoriana literature it was refreshing and liberating to find a book that tackled some issues of women's equality directly.

At its root, of course, Gaudy Night is a mystery novel; but somehow the mystery manages to shuffle off, first taking second stage, then third, to other, more pertinent, issues. Initially, it is overshadowed by the discussion of women's rights for education, their belonging in the world of academia, their rele
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Andree
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, 2016
Finally got around to rereading this book this week.

I think I might have loved it more the second time around. And I loved it a lot the first time around.

I really love everything about this. I love the setting. I love the character work. I love the introduction Saint George Wimsey. I adore the relationship development.

I love the dialogue re: heart v. mind.

I love how clearly the whole thing is set up as a choice.

Also, "A marriage of two independent and equally irritable intelligences seems to me
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Nikki
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime, audio
I was looking forward to getting to this radioplay. It wasn't one of my favourite books when reading it, I don't think, but I'm already very attached to Peter and Harriet, while listening to the radioplays, and I knew that this would be a crux of both characters' development. I believe this was recorded a long time after the others: certainly, Ian Carmichael remains wonderful but you can hear age and tiredness in his voice. He's not quite so jolly and smooth as he used to be. Not enough bounce t ...more
Adrienne Furness
"You may say you won't interfere with another person's soul, but you do--merely by existing. The snag about it is the practical difficulty, so to speak, of not existing. I mean, here we all are, you know, and what are we to do about it?"

Loved this one. It was a decent mystery, but it was an even better story about human beings and our crazy ways.
Pamela Shropshire
Each book of the Lord Peter Winsey series is exceptional among detective fiction, and Gaudy Night is, IMO, the finest of the series. Written from her viewpoint, Harriet has returned to her alma mater, the fictional Shrewsbury women's college at Oxford, in response to a plea from an old school friend to attend the Shrewsbury Gaudy. She is initially reluctant, because of the notoriety of her murder trial and the accompanying circumstances. However, she is generally welcomed both by the dons and sc ...more
ladydusk
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
Own on Kindle.

I finished Gaudy Night last night. It was wonderful. I had started and abandoned it a couple of times, but finally forced myself to keep on into the story. I wouldn't say it was un-put-down-able, because it was heady and there were places that I found quite difficult and needed a break. I suspect that this is a book that's best read multiple times for it's many-faceted levels. I think I was trying to follow too many facets at once.

My biggest complaint was all of the names - too man
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Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a renowned British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.

Dorothy L. Sayers is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. However, Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante's Divina Co
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More about Dorothy L. Sayers...

Other Books in the Series

Lord Peter Wimsey (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #1)
  • Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey, #2)
  • Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey, #3)
  • Lord Peter Views the Body (Lord Peter Wimsey, #4)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey, #5)
  • Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey, #6)
  • Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey, #7)
  • Have His Carcase  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #8)
  • Hangman's Holiday: A Collection of Short Mysteries (Lord Peter Wimsey, #9)
  • Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #10)

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“Wherever you find a great man, you will find a great mother or a great wife standing behind him -- or so they used to say. It would be interesting to know how many great women have had great fathers and husbands behind them.” 966 likes
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