Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey Series #10)

Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey Series #10)

by Dorothy L. Sayers

Paperback(Reissue)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062196538
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/16/2012
Series: Lord Peter Wimsey Series , #10
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 70,179
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: 870L (what's this?)

About the Author

Dorothy L. Sayers was born in 1893. She was one of the first women to be awarded a degree by Oxford University, and later she became a copywriter at an ad agency. In 1923 she published her first novel featuring the aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey, who became one of the world's most popular fictional heroes. She died in 1957.

Date of Birth:

June 13, 1893

Date of Death:

December 17, 1957

Place of Birth:

Oxford, England

Education:

B.A., Oxford University, 1915; M.A., B.C.L., 1920

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Thou blind man's mark, thou fool's self-chosen snare,
Fond fancy's scum, and dregs of scattered thought,
Band of all evils; cradle of causeless care;
Thou web of will, whose end is never wrought:
Desire! Desire! I have too dearly bought
With Price of mangled mind, thy worthless ware.

SIR PHILIP SIDNEY

Harriet Vane sat at her writing-table and stared out into Mecklenburg Square. The late tulips made a brave show in the Square garden, and a quartet of early tennis-players were energetically calling the score of a rather erratic and unpracticed game. But Harriet saw neither tulips nor tennis-players. A letter lay open on the blotting-pad before her, but its image had faded from her mind to make way for another picture. She saw a stone quadrangle, built by a modem architect in a style neither new nor old, but stretching out reconciling hands to past and present. Folded within its walls lay a trim grass plot, with flower-beds splashed at the angles, and surrounded by a wide stone plinth. Behind the level roofs of Cotswold slate rose the brick chimneys of an older and less formal pile of buildings--a quadrangle also of a kind, but still keeping a domestic remembrance of the original Victoriandwelling-houses that had sheltered the first shy students of Shrewsbury College. In front were the trees of Jowett Walk, and beyond them, a jumble of ancient gables and the tower of New College, with its jackdaws wheeling against a windy sky.

Memory peopled the quad with moving figures. Students sauntering in pairs. Students dashing to lectures, their gowns hitched hurriedlyover light summer frocks, the wind jerking their flat caps into the absurd likeness of so many jesters' cockscombs. Bicycles stacked in the porter's lodge, their carriers piled with books and gowns twisted about their handle-bars. A grizzled woman don crossing the turf with vague eyes, her thoughts riveted upon aspects of sixteenth-century philosophy, her sleeves floating, her shoulders cocked to the academic angle that automatically compensated the backward drag of the pleated poplin. Two male commoners in search of a coach, bareheaded, hands in their trousers-pockets, talking loudly about boats. The Warden--grey and stately--and the Dean--stocky, brisk, birdlike, a Lesser Redpoll--in animated conference under the archway leading to the Old Quadrangle. Tall spikes of delphinium against the grey, quiveringly blue like flames, if flame were ever so blue. The college cat, preoccupied and remote, stalking with tail erect in the direction of the buttery.

It was all so long ago; so closely encompassed and complete; so cut off as by swords from the bitter years that lay between. Could one face it now? What would those women say to her, to Harriet Vane, who had taken her First in English and gone to London to write mystery fiction, to live with a man who was not married to her, and to be tried for his murder amid a roar of notoriety? That was not the kind of career that Shrewsbury expected of its old students.

She had never gone back; at first, because she had loved the place too well, and a clean break seemed better than a slow wrenching-away; and also because, when her parents had died and left her penniless, the struggle to earn a livelihood had absorbed all her time and thought. And afterwards, the stark shadow of the gallows had fallen between her and that sundrenched quadrangle of grey and green. But now--?

She picked up the letter again. It was an urgent entreaty that she should attend the Shrewsbury Gaudy--an entreaty of the kind that it is difficult to disregard. A friend whom she had not seen since they went down together; married now and remote from her, but fallen sick, and eager to see Harriet once again before going abroad for a delicate and dangerous operation.

Mary Stokes, so pretty and dainty as Miss Patty in the Second-Year play; so charming and finished in manner; so much the social center of her year. It had seemed strange that she should take such a fancy to Harriet Vane) rough and gawky and anything but generally popular. Mary had led and Harriet had followed; when they punted up the Cher with strawberries and thermos flasks; when they climbed Magdalen tower together before sunrise on MayDay and felt it swing beneath them with the swing of the reeling bells; when they sat up late at night over the fire with coffee and parkin, it was always Mary who took the lead in all the long discussions about love and art, religion and citizenship. Mary, said all her friends, was marked for a First; only the dim, inscrutable dons had not been surprised when the lists came out with Harriet's name in the First Class and Mary's in the Second. And since then, Mary had married and scarcely been heard of; except that she haunted the College with a sick persistence, never missing an Old Students' Meeting or a Gaudy. But Harriet had broken all her old ties and half the commandments, dragged her reputation in the dust and made money, had the rich and amusing Lord Peter Wimsey at her feet, to marry him if she chose, and was full of energy and bitterness and the uncertain rewards of fame. Prometheus and Epimetheus had changed their parts, it seemed; but for one there was the box of troubles and for the other the bare rock and the vulture; and never, it seemed to Harriet, could they meet on any common ground again.

"But, by God!" said Harriet, "I won't be a coward. I'll go and be damned to it. Nothing can hurt me worse than I've been hurt already. And what does it matter after all?"

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Gaudy Night 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read all of the Lord Peter Whimsey mysteries, I can safely say this one is my favorite, and not just because of the romance part, either. This story is more than a mystery, it is a contemplation of how people think, and how other people don't understand them. It is a dense book, but in a good way. As much as I loved the t.v. version, it didn't touch the surface of the actual book. And to see how the character of Lord Peter changes from her earlier books to this one is very interesting. He becomes very real. It really is a study of phsycology rather than a mystery, but you certainly won't be disappointed. You'll be blissfully taken off to Oxford and her dreamy spires, and punted down the Cherwell with Harriet and Lord Peter showing you the sights. It's a lovely trip.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Dorothy Sayers' books and this is my favorite, I have read and re-read it and have enjoyed it even more upon reread.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read my first Dorothy Sayers' book just a few years ago. I found Peter Wimsey one of the most interesting sleuths I've ever encountered in my reading. He's right up there with Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. I read all the Wimsey books in order and while this one isn't my favorite for the plot (that would be 'Have His Carcase'), I found Gaudy Night to be a very fascinating look at Oxford College life at a time when women were just beginning to be accepted at University although definitely still in a second-class sort of way. The plot is a mystery, of course, but it also adds a degree of tenseness that kept me reading quickly to see what would happen next. Peter and Harriet further their relationship to a point that is not surprising but quite sweet. The locations in Oxford are for the most part real except for the fictional women's college where much of the action takes place. I was able to use Google Maps and found many of the locations she wrote about in this book. It made it seem more real to me to see places like Balliol College, the Bodleian Library and the Magdalen Bridge with the boats on the Cherwell. Harriet Vane is quite competent and she may could have solved the mystery without Peter so she found having him there both satisfying and frustrating which pretty much sums up her feelings about him up until the end of this book. Solving the mystery resolved the tension and allowed her to come to understand how she really felt about Peter. This leads to the next Wimsey book, Busman's Honeymoon, which I also recommend.
nrclibn on LibraryThing 1 days ago
A bit too much immersion in upper-class British academe for my tastes. After slogging through all the Latin and the jargon, I was feeling some class/education based resentment and irritation, just like the guilty party in the book.
benfulton on LibraryThing 29 days ago
My mom was a big English mystery fan, and I devoured her library at an early age, but haven't really gone back to read them until my wife took an interest in Elizabeth Peters a few years ago, and followed with Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Patricia Moyes in a rather predictable fashion. I'd forgotten how good Ms. Sayers really is; Gaudy Night might be thought of as the third in a series of love stories with some incidental murders. By the time I'd gotten halfway through this one, I'd almost entirely lost interest in whodunit for wondering will they or won't they. Much better characterization than you usually get in standard mysteries.
Ysabeau on LibraryThing 29 days ago
My favorite of the Lord Wimsey books. Perhaps because he and Harriet finally come to an understanding, or maybe because the long-lost days of 1930s Oxford are so interesting.
medievalmama on LibraryThing 29 days ago
My favorite Sayers fiction and the only one that is a mystery but not a murder mystery. Ah, the joy of going back to one's college as an expert and the joys of academic politics. Good read.
June6Bug on LibraryThing 29 days ago
A series of frightening events at a women's college in Oxford are investigated by Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey. As usual, Sayers' work is engaging, intricate, and satisfying to read.
MrsLee on LibraryThing 29 days ago
A much acclaimed favorite among Sayers fans, a good mystery, story and romance. I love it, though I also love several of her other Lord Peter novels as well.This book is from Harriet Vane's perspective, for the most part. She is still trying to cope with the devastating events in her life, and with that persistent man who wishes to marry her. In the midst of this turmoil, she is thrown into a different sort. Her beloved college, Shrewsbury is having a Gaudy. Attending with one of her old classmates, Harriet's feelings are torn between the comfort and security of Oxford and the feeling that one can never go back. She feels safe here, but is she? Someone is causing mischief at the college. Not just harmless pranks, but twisted, cruel things. Evil is intended, but for whom? Harriet is called upon for her experience and wisdom to help sort out the trouble and as she works at the knot she worries about her own intentions and motives. When Lord Peter arrives in the story, fireworks begin, not only for them, but for the college as well.
kadri on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The final stretch of the longstanding saga of Lord Peter's courtship of Harriet Vane (who is more reasonable and likable in this one than in most others :)). Includes hilarious insights into the workings of the Denver family. The old Duchess is fabulous, as always.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vicious anonymous notes and multiple acts of spiteful sabotage are the focus of this mystery. In solving it, Sayers touches on many topics, including: the role of women in academia and the workforce, the necessity of supporting a family versus artistic or scholastic integrity, keeping one's identity in a marriage, eugenics and other pre-WWII political/social topics, etc. Also, Peter and Harriet finally talk to each other rather than at each other, and sort out their feelings for one another. The charming Miss Climpson of previous Wimsey books is mentioned but not utilized. We do meet Peter's oldest nephew.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Long winded and slow.
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This is one of my favorite books. Although not a traditional English murder mystery, the lack of the the traditional homicide somehow makes this book even more intriguing, emotionally satisfying, and fascinating. This is Sayers' masterpiece.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A classic setting and a very literate read one of these days will try t find out who le faun was buska
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srj More than 1 year ago
Ian Carmichael provides the definitive audio versions of the Lord Peter works of DLS. Gaudy Night is no exception. For the devotees of Ms. Sayers, this provides the key to how Lord Peter and Harriet finally overcome her resistance to their union. A lovely listen.