NOVEL: Gaudy Night
AUTHOR: Dorothy L. Sayers
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1935
Completists won’t want to start this series midstream, so they can begin with Whose Body? if they must. But it isn’t nearly so good.
To my mind, this is Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane at their absolute best, in his tenth appearance, and her third. The gentleman sleuth and the mystery novelist with a complicated personal life team up here to investigate a series of unfortunate events and cruel pranks at a women’s college at Oxford, trying to avert a scandal, or even worse, a murder. They also resolve their own relationship, after they’ve settled the ghastly and scurrilous matters at the college.
Although today she’s known best as Wimsey’s creator, Sayers was also an accomplished essayist and scholar, a translator of Dante, and a theologian of some repute. Her erudition shows: this 1936 novel is full of quotations, literary references, advocacy for women’s education, and even criticism of Nazi doctrine. Don’t let the serious themes alarm you, though…it’s a delight to read.
RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): Four-and-a-half Whistles
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Laura LaVelle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org