Wednesdays with Words: A New Delight in Formality

I’ve been reading Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey series off and on over the course of the past year and have finally begun Gaudy Night.  It is my understanding that this is everyone’s favorite, everyone loves it, and my expectations are high.  I just hope not too high.

I’m only part-way into the first chapter, but these passages stood out to me.  In the first case, I suspect this conflict is going to have a lot to do with the conflict in the book, and I liked the phrasing of the emphasized section, it just jumped out at me:

And since then, Mary had married and scarcely been heard of ; except that she haunted the College with a sick persistence, never missing an Old Students’ Meeting or a Gaudy. But Harriet had broken all her old ties and half the commandments, dragged her reputation in the dust and made money, had the rich and amusing Lord Peter Wimsey at her feet, to marry him if she chose, and was full of energy and bitterness and the uncertain rewards of fame. Prometheus and Epimetheus had changed their parts it seemed; but for one there was the box of troubles and for the other the bare rock and the vulture; and never, it seemed to Harriet, could they meet on any common ground.” (page 5, emphasis mine)

The second, I feel to be very true of me, I do find more formal things to be more pleasant than I had expected when I was younger:

As one grew older, as one established one’s self, one gained a new delight in formality. (page 6)

What are you reading this week?



  1. I love the Wimsey series. Gaudy Night is good but I'm pretty sure my favorite is The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club.

    1. Interesting. So far I like the two books which have featured Harriet Vane, I like her character and the interactions between her and LPW.

  2. The Nine Tailors if my favorite, Busman's Honeymoon is second, but this one is really good too. Actually, I think all the others (including the short stories) are in third place, with Five Red Herrings trailing in a distant fourth — I still haven't finished that one!

  3. I got a big kick out of the ending! I really enjoyed Murder Must Advertise, though I am very partial to Harriet Vane.

    1. I liked Clouds of Witness too, I think I must like Sayers' strong female characters, like LPW's mother and Miss Vane.

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