I don’t know if I can accurately express how much I love this book. I have to admit that, for me anyway, it is the pinnacle of the Lord Peter series, the shining achievement. Busman’s Honeymoon is, in contrast, little more than an afterthought. Not that I want to rag on Busman’s Honeymoon–it’s just that the series could end with “and no hand plucked his velvet sleeve” and I would be entirely satisfied.
More than any of the other Lord Peter books, even Strong Poison, this feels like more than just a mystery. In fact, while the mystery occupies a great deal of Lord Peter and Harriet’s time, the heart of the story is really the struggle which Harriet finds herself in. The more I read it, the more I feel that Harriet takes the center stage for this one. Peter has done all he can to convince her to marry him–what we have in Gaudy Night is Harriet’s making up her mind. While I adore Peter and always will, Harriet grows on me more and more. I think it’s partly because Sayers fully develops the writing part in a way which feels real, not forced or overly sentimental.
Somehow I think I’ve made it sound as if it could be a bit dreary, full of emotional maudlings. It’s not. It’s smart, wickedly amusing, and chock-full of quotes. I went through and identified them once, for fun. It’s incredible. And the end is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever read.