This is the sound of me eating my words when I said that I would never include Gaudy Nights in my list of memorable reads. That temerity was uttered on grounds of the first few chapters, a general dislike for detective stories, and the distinct sensation that Sayers was washing her dirty linen in public.
Harriet Vane is certainly the author's alter ego, but perhaps also mine and the one of every woman who wants a college education. She is used to discuss gender, learning, learned women, ethical academicism, marriage and children, professional and private life, love and tradition. Those discussions turn out to be more interesting than the mystery -but I'm the first to admit that I'm not a mystery fan- and miraculously, they don't weigh down the plot.
If I was initially put off, it was partly because Harriet seemed far too judgmental during the Gaudy. But perhaps that is mere realism in a reunion of old students. And perhaps there is a certain amount of bitchiness implied in learning. Wouldn't it be rather bitchy of me to say that I'd very much like to throttle the workman who's humming in the scaffolding of my fourth-floor window, barely 2 meters away from me, when I've got a perfectly good Bernstein Concerto on? It's the truth, damn him.
And of course that exasperating idea that clever women look for cleverer men, and I wasn't looking forward to have it confirmed if Wimsey solved the mystery instead of Harriet. But I think that Sayers ended up making a good case for equality in romantic relationships, and I'm glad, because about that I've got all these opinions.