For the very long classic, we were asked to pick a classic book that was 500 pages or longer. At 564 pages my pick was Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers.
I’ve read several books by her, non fiction, and fiction. Her mysteries and short stories feature Lord Peter. Four of those are the Harriet Vane/Lord Peter novels. They are Strong Poison, Have His Carcass, Gaudy Night, and Busman’s Holiday.
I read Strong Poison, where Lord Peter and Harriet met. Have not read the second one, and have read Gaudy Night. Out of all the fiction books by her I’ve read, this is the most impressive. The literary quality to it stands up. The book is at the crossroads between old society and new order. It has all the allure of the Oxford college life, in its feminine variation, with all the issues of the times, and with a mystery weaved for a good measure of fun and intrigue. Not to forget the peculiar relationship these two have.
Sayers gives flight to her caustic humor, her sharp pen, and injects the book with her many theories about love, decorum, education, the place of women in colleges, perks, and prowess, never forcing the plot or characters out of themselves. She asks deep questions about how one should live her life, and also presents us with diverse conflicts of all ages with the flair and distinctiveness of her own times.
The book is full of small treasures that I could by no means exhaust. It can be enjoyed even when many of those went over my head. It’s a title worth revisiting. Also, if you are that type of reader, there’s notes, podcasts, and diverse resources to mine the text and to understand all the Oxford, college life, and literary and cultural references.
It’s a favorite of this first half of 2019.