Gaudy Night

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Grade Level: 11-12
Author: Dorothy L. Sayers
Publisher: Bourbon Street Books
Publish Date: 2012
Binding: Paperback
Dimensions: 5-1/4 by 8 inches
Number of Pages: 527
Item ID: 3194 B1F  ISBN: 978-0-06-219653-8
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Being a Dorothy Sayer’s fanatic, I welcomed the chance to write this brief description of what I think is one of Ms. Sayer’s finest works. Her theological essays are brilliant and take the mind on a ping-pong match similar in quality to a tennis game at Wimbledon. She travels at such speed and with unerring direction that one can scarcely see the theological ball, as it were. In this, her second-to-last novel in the Lord Peter Wimsey series, we see that same wit clothed in all things Britain, but the ball has slowed down to a lazy afternoon, friendly match.

Her obvious love and mastery of the English language actually gets discussed: One afternoon in Oxford, Peter and Harriet (who is actually the main protagonist in this story) are punting down the Thames, and Harriet remarks to Peter, “Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?” He responds, “So easy that, to tell the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober. Which accounts for my talking so much.”

This is one of Ms. Sayer’s longer books. While attending her Oxford reunion, known as the “Gaudy,” Harriet encounters a mystery and ends up exploring not only women’s roles in acadamia but also the ultimate weight of justice. If you love things British, you’ll love the setting of this book (originally published in 1936) and the sharp thinking that helps Harriet and Peter to find the pitiable culprit to a series of bizarre pranks which had become deadly. You also come to the final accord in Harriet’s and Peter’s romance which has struggled on for many years. Busman’s Honeymoon is the sequel and final chapter to this series of classic British mystery novels.

This is part of Hewitt's Lightning Literature & Composition curriculum (See Related Items below).

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