FoC 008: Harriet Vane is Not A Floozie



When we found out we hadn’t read some of each other’s favourite books of all time, we decided to fix that by reading them at the same time and then talk about them on the podcast! Christy read one of Haley’s favourites, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
while Haley was told to read Gaudy Night
by Dorothy L. Sayers. These two books may seem to be completely different, except that they are both really fun to talk about!


Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is an intricate fantasy about magic in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century, while Gaudy Night is a detective novel set in Oxford during the 1930’s. We chat about feminism, marriage, and the intellectual life with Gaudy Night, then talk about magic, evil, and an alternate history of England with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. This episode has a little of everything!

We also talk about how we find time to read, what works best for us, and how we find the books we read. We hope you’ll share your favourite reads with us too, and maybe inspire you to pick up a little fantasy or detective fiction!

You can listen to us on iTunes, and we’d love a quick rating or review. If you have an android device we’re also on Stitcher. And as always, you can find all links, show notes, upcoming guests, and listen to all episodes at Fountains of


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16 thoughts on “FoC 008: Harriet Vane is Not A Floozie”

  1. I loved your discussion of Gaudy Night–it’s got to be one of my most favorite books ever. It was so fun to hear you talk about it; perhaps I’ll have to re-read it now!

  2. The only thing better than Gaudy Night is to read all of the Peter Wimsey novels in order. The character development is wonderful, and gives so much more insight into life and human nature than one would think from a light-hearted (at first glance) detective novel.

    1. I love how Peter Whimsey gets better and better with each book. I think Sayers herself was surprised in how much she liked him and how popular he became. It’s awfully hard not to fall in love with him!

  3. Love it! I have not read either of those books, but a couple of weeks ago I tried reading The Ladies of Grace Adieu. I loved the writing style but could not relate to the characters since I hadn’t read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I bought the book a few years ago and it was a big, fat paperback. I couldn’t read it laying on my side with one hand, so I couldn’t continue with it. Now I have it from the library on my Kindle so my hopes are higher. The miniseries kinda puts a fire under me to read it again!

    1. I agree looking at how big Jonathan Strange is is intimidating! But I really fell into the world once I started reading it, I really loved that it was so long. I felt by the end that I didn’t want to leave that crazy world behind!

  4. This was another great episode. And please, more talk about books in future episodes! The only thing that I didn’t enjoy about Gaudy Night was trying to keep track of all the dons (is that the right word?) working at the college. Too many similar sounding names to juggle in my head.

  5. I really enjoyed your discussion of Gaudy Night — I don’t care for the Lord Peter series, but I do love the Harriet Vane books.

    A thought on why she is so reluctant to accept Lord Peter’s proposal … (forgive me if you mentioned this; I didn’t hear it, but then, I was also trying to clean the kitchen while listening!) It is crucial to read the previous book, Strong Poison, to understand their relationship. Lord Peter solves a murder in which Harriet is framed as the murderer, and so does save her, and I think she is concerned about how that affects their relationship. In addition, the question of marriage is very “loaded” to her, as the victim of that murder was her lover, who had refused to marry her because he didn’t in marriage “on principle” (part of the plot …). So it isn’t just that she wants to be independent — there is a lot more at play there. She’s a wonderfully deep character. (More so, I feel, than he is. But maybe I should give “his” books another chance.)

    1. Thanks Alice!
      I agree with you that that is a concern for Harriet and I think you’re right when you make all those points. There is a good amount of backstory from Strong Poison, another novel that I feel stands on it’s own. Really we could probably devout a whole podcast episode just talking about Harriet because she’s so interesting and great!

  6. I stumbled upon your podcast. After listening to “Lent with Tolkien”, I was determined to start from the very beginning and make my way through every episode. Sadly, the Apple Podcast app did not reach back to the pilot episode. Fortunately for me, it did have the episode titled “Harriet Vane is not a floozie.” At the recognition of a beloved character, I knew I had to listen to this particular episode. It so happens that I am currently re-reading the Lord Peter Wimsey series and Harriet Vane just appeared in Strong Poison. Harriet Vane is an excellent character in full possession of a biting wit and a thoughtful heart. I adore the notion of Haley Atwell bringing this divine character to the screen.

    I was not familiar with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell previously other than a cursory knowledge of the miniseries. Midway into the episode, I was already convinced that I needed to order it from the library. Thanks for recommendation! Looking forward to your thoughtful commentary and solid suggestions on books.

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