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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

Critic Reviews

"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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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sayers at her zenith

Unlike the half dozen unnatural deaths in many modern crime novels, Sayers gives us not one body in Gaudy Night. In fact, crime is almost a background noise. Yet her understanding of relationships as expressed through her characters is profound. This is definitely my favourite Wimsey/Vane. Jane McDowell's narration is expressive and enjoyable. Bravo all around.

1 person found this helpful

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Horrible narration wonderful book

Every now and then I try to listen to this again because I love the story so much. However every time I do I’m mystified by how this narrator came to be employed for such iconic stories. She has a lovely vocal timbre but her delivery would be more suitable for an instruction manual. There is no characterisation, no warmth, no sense of Oxford and the stiff jerky pace is jarring. I kept longing for Edward Petherbridge or Harriet Walter - the best Peter and Harriet ever. This recording is six years old now. Surely it’s time for some better versions??

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  • j
  • 02-11-2017

A great classic nicely presented

The performance was spoilt for me by a simple mispronunciation- the hideous ‘mischievEEOus’ for mischievous
Otherwise I found it well and sympathetically read.
As a love story with a detective interest it is one of, if not the, best.

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  • Akela
  • 24-10-2017

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
  • 10-09-2017

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
  • 31-01-2017

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-05-2021

Love Whimsy and Harriot!

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

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  • Annemarie
  • 28-07-2016

Awful performance nearly spoils good book

If you could sum up Gaudy Night in three words, what would they be?

Oxford; romance; mystery

What did you like best about this story?

A Continuation of the ongoing story of Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, as well as a love-letter to Oxford and a detective story.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

in many, many, ways. I will avoid any book she is reading - she could spoil any book! She pauses irritatingly after every few words, at inappropriate places, she stresses the wrong words to make sense of a sentence, and she frequently mispronounces words - even homophones, such as 'bow' are pronounced incorrectly (revealing that she has little understanding of what she is reading. Why on earth was she recruited as a reader????

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

the book delighted me, but the reading made me scream with frustration and irritation.

Any additional comments?

PLEASE restore or re-commission new readings of the Sayers books, and don't let this woman loose on any books again.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Hannah May
  • 04-01-2016

Great story ruined by awful narration

What did you like best about Gaudy Night? What did you like least?

Complex and engaging plot - one of Dorothy L. Sayer's Best. On the downside the narrator sounded like nothing so much as a satnav and seemed to have no idea what she was saying.

How could the performance have been better?

Another narrator.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Leslie Wilson
  • 03-01-2016

A lamentable narrator and badly produced

Stilted! She stops halfway through speeches to take a breath where nobody would. Reads like an amateur. However, I did feel that some editing, or production, might have spared us the howlers and mispronunciations. Plus not knowing how Oxford names should be spoken. 'Saint Aldgates' indeed. And 'Dives' pronounced like seedy nightspots. it should be 'DivES, with the E pronounced. I stuck with it, because I like the story, but this is the second of the new series of Lord Peter books I have been disappointed by and I shan't get any more. I and Ms Sayers deserve better than this. Thank heavens I have all the Ian Carmichael recordings.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Minna
  • 11-04-2016

Weird staccato narrator

Gaudy Nights and Busman's Holiday are some of Sayers best work, and they are almost butchered by this narrator. She has a strange staccato way of speaking, and seem at many times to be cut short, which exaggerate this even more.
HOWEVER the story is sublime, so if one can overhear the narrator, one is still captivated. I think one must be a convinced Wimsey lover however, to accomplish this though.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Ms
  • 17-10-2015

Miss Sayers at her best - shame the narration wasn't that great

I have waited a long time for this book to be released I audio for at. In my humble opinion this is Miss Sayers at her very best. By why oh why didn't the get Edward Petherbridge for the narration. This is why I have marked down the performance.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Lucy
  • 08-06-2017

Enthralling story, poor delivery

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Different narrator

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Jane McDowell?

Phyllida Nash - Claire Higgins

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Gaudy Night?

It's best unabridged

Any additional comments?

Jane McDowell is obviously unacquainted with Oxford as she mispronounces names connected with the place, such as Cherwell. More surprising are the many other mistakes in pronunciation she makes, among which "Bredon", "mischievous", "lyricists" and "bow" (drawn at a venture) are the most egregious. This is very grating, more so particularly because of her flat and rather breathy delivery, which kills what should be a very lively narrative.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Saschka
  • 12-02-2017

My favourite Dorothy spoilt by narration

I love this book but almost didn't finish it because of the narration. I would almost say that the narrator doesn't understand much of what she is reading, as she continually stresses less important words in sentences; and mispronunciations abound. And she narrates all the Wimsey/Vane books! Does no-one at the publishers listen to the books before releasing them?

9 people found this helpful

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  • Anne
  • 11-04-2016

Dreadful narration

My favourite Dorothy L Sayers book spoilt by dreadful narration. I couldn't tell the characters apart and haven't actually finished listening to the whole audio book. Have returned to the radio adaption!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Eliza
  • 31-12-2015

PLEASE change the narrator

Any additional comments?

A lovely Peter Wimsy story rendered excrutiating by a totally inappropriate female narrator. Most of the time I couldn't work out from her voice who was supposed to be speaking, and as much of the action takes place through dialogue it was very confusing, not to say distressing.

9 people found this helpful

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  • DDR
  • 01-12-2016

The narrator does not do a good job

This story is absolutely wonderful.

All the way through I kept trying to figure out the exact nature of the narrator's shortcomings:

1. She has a nice voice
2. She doesn't have the ability to differentiate her voices according to character, sometimes she tries it and applies the voice too late, mostly she doesn't (Martin Jarvis is one of the best in this regard and often improves one's enjoyment of the story).
3. The way that the words are strung together sounds like my kindle when I select the voice option (what you get is a computer selecting the words from a database and stringing them together without the necessary understanding to give the correct intonation and emotion).

It is a real tragedy because it appears that this narrator is currently the only option in the audible stable for the Lord Peter Wimsey books.

However, this story is wonderful and scholarly, I am not a scholar and supplemented my understanding by researching for example Latin phrases on the Internet - it gives more depth and tenderness to the story.... Sublime, truly sublime..............shame about the narrator.

6 people found this helpful

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