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Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers

Gaudy Night is a mystery fiction novel written by Dorothy Sayers. The novel revolves around the life of Harriet Vane, a detective. The novel progresses through a series of events in the life of the protagonist with a sense of feminism. The character of Harriet is well portrayed by the author as a young woman detective, facing troubles among the changing world.

About the author :

Dorothy L. Sayers is a renowned English crime novel writer, playwright, and poet. She is well known for her mystery novel series and short stories. She is also an essayist, essayist, translator, and Christian humanist. Her translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy is one of her best known works.

About the Novel :

Gaudy Night is the tenth series among her popular series about Lord Peter Wimsey. The protagonist, Harriet Vane, is a crime writer who is invited to attend the annual ‘Gaudy’ celebrations at the all-female Shrewsbury College, Oxford. However, the entire situation turns sour when some person starts making a series of malicious pranks. This includes poison-pen messages, vile effigies, obscene graffiti, and the destruction of a set of proofs. On the edge, Harriet asks her old friend, Wimsey to accompany her with the investigations.

The Dean of Shrewsbury mentions Harriet about the outbreak of anonymous letters, threats and vandalism. She guesses it to be someone apparently within the college, and so the scandal is dreaded. Harriet resides in the college for the next few months, researching the scandal and writing her book.

While she struggle with the case, she is forced to encounter her own feelings of love and marriage. She discovers that her love for academic writing is the result of her intellectual and emotional refuge. On the other hand, she narrows down the list of suspects. Her hinted suspicions and evidences at the college allow her to connect the case with a sexually frustrated female don.

Meanwhile her friend, Wimsey arrives while she stays in a dilemma about her relationship with him. Eventually, she gains a new understanding about him while working on the case together. The attacks on the campus create a crisis, making the entire college community tremble with fear and suspicion. There comes an attempt of suicide by student and also Harriet is physically assaulted, in which she escapes.

In the following turn of events, it is revealed by Wimsey that the perpetrator is one of the college servants. She is a widow of a disgraced academic in the northern university. Her husband has been exposed by an examiner for academic fraud, which destroys his career and induces him to suicide. Since the examiner is now at the Shrewsbury College, she widows seeks to take revenge against intellectual women for moving out of their ‘domestic’ sphere.

The novel ends with Harriet Vane accepting the proposal of Wimsey and their marriage is finalized.  The next part of the series continues with their wedding and honeymoon, which gets interrupted by a murder mystery, in the book, Busman’s Honeymoon.

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About the author

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