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Publisher's Summary

The best of the golden age crime writers, praised by all the top modern writers in the field including P. D. James and Ruth Rendell, Dorothy L. Sayers created the immortal Lord Peter Wimsey. The twelfth book featuring Lord Peter (the third novel to feature Harriet Vane) is set in an Oxford women's college.

Harriet Vane has never dared to return to her old Oxford college. Now, despite her scandalous life, she has been summoned back....

At first she thinks her worst fears have been fulfilled, as she encounters obscene graffiti, poison pen letters, and a disgusting effigy when she arrives at sedate Shrewsbury College for the Gaudy celebrations.

But soon Harriet realises she is not the only target of this murderous malice - and asks Lord Peter Wimsey to help.

©1935 The Trustees of Anthony Fleming (deceased) (P)2015 Hodder & Stoughton

What the critics say

"I admire her novels...she has great fertility of invention, ingenuity and a wonderful eye for detail." (P. D. James)

What listeners say about Gaudy Night

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A wonderful 12-hour listening experience

I already loved the book - so much beautiful language - and equally loved the listening experience. 16-and-some hours of pure pleasure. Even after all those hours I was sorry to get to the end. There is the odd occasion, especially as characters are exchanging quick comment without the writer telling you who is speaking, when the narrator appears to forget which one she's voicing. But given there are umpteen Oxford accents to manage, that didn't startle me unduly and I was able to make the transition mentally without much distraction. And who among us could be Harriet, Miss de Vine, Miss Lydgate, Dr. Baring, Miss Hillyard, Miss Martin, Miss Burrows, and on and on, without getting a bit lost from time to time in the individuals' vocal timbre? Plus the narrator has such a lovely voice herself, perfect for the setting. Five stars.

2 people found this helpful

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not for me

TL;DR: Classic though it may be, I found this to be tiresome and a bit irritating.
I don't know, guys. I read this because it us on a list of 50 Essential Mysteries that I am trying to read through. The author of said list was really, really stoked to suggest this one (and anything by Sayers). Like, she really praised it up. So it had a lot to live up to.
Clearly, this style of mystery is just not for me. Objectively, yes, I can see why this is a classic beloved by many, but... it kind of annoyed me a little, to be honest. But that's on me, not the book. It is very posh, upper class English, and I am very working class and not English. Lords and ladies grind my proverbial gears, and the hallowed halls of academia make me roll my eyes (and brings back memories, haha, both as a grad student and as a pupil at an all girls school. The flashbacks...). The writing of female characters made me tense up. I know that it is accurate to the time, but good grief, it is unpleasant. The worst, though, is our heroine. Yeah, she is a smart, independent woman, and that's great, but she is absolutely the grandmama of "I'm not like other girls." At the time, I'm sure it was novel and a big deal, and that's great and I appreciate it, but... nah.
The story itself is bloated and long winded and honestly, there isn't much to it. Poison pen letters terrorize a women's college. The solution to the crime, such as it is, is both obvious and kind of frustrating (refer back to my point on female characters).
Yeah. I just didn't really enjoy it. Even the iconic line about the "constancy of ducks."
It has been interesting reading someone else's idea of the 50 essential mystery novels, but this one is what has really hammered home to me that "essential" is subjective. I need a bit of a break, I think, and make my next read something that I know is to my taste.

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  • Akela
  • 2017-10-24

a murder of a lovely book by narration

This is such a beautiful text, full of humor, intelligence, period details and the loveliness of Oxford. And it was brutally murdered by a shrill, humorless, staccato narration. Nothing in the world could make me dislike the heroes and the book itself, but I have to say money was wasted on this production.

Jane McDowell did a very unpleasant narration: humorless, tactless and slap-dash.

As she already did all of the books, there is obviously no chance of another try in the nearest future with a different narrator. Such a pity.

6 people found this helpful

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  • EC Williams
  • 2017-09-10

Gaudy Night

I've adored this novel for 20 years. This reading of it made me dislike Harriet and Peter.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Phyllis
  • 2017-01-31

Run to the end of the story

jane Sayers reads too quickly which detracts readers attention. Story is weakened significantly as a result

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anna Murray
  • 2022-03-01

i liked the narrator! (favorite book)

Unlike others here I thought the reader was perfect for a book set in an Oxford college in the 1930s. A more dramatic and emotional reading would have been wildly inappropriate and this gave a wonderful sense of place.
And, it's one of my favorite books ever! but if you're just picking up Sayers for the first time, start with Strong Poison at least and preferably also Have His Carcase.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-05-24

Love Whimsy and Harriot!

I love all Dorothy Sayers! First class performance! Thank you! Looking forward to more! Cheers!