Lord Emsworth and Others (Blandings Castle #6) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Lord Emsworth and Others
Series: Blandings Castle #6
Authors: PG Wodehouse
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 179
Words: 73K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

“The Crime Wave at Blandings”

US: Saturday Evening Post, 10 & 17 October 1936

UK: Strand, January 1937 (as “Crime Wave at Blandings”)

Plot

Lord Emsworth’s sister, Lady Constance, has decided that Emsworth’s grandson George needs a tutor to keep him in line over the summer holidays and chooses Rupert Baxter, Emsworth’s former secretary. Emsworth is worried that Constance is trying to get the controlling and unpleasant Baxter reinstated as his secretary. George, who does not want to be tutored during the summer holidays, dislikes Baxter, and Emsworth sympathizes with George. Meanwhile, Lord Emsworth’s niece Jane is engaged to George Abercrombie. Constance disapproves since Abercrombie does not have money or a job, and wants Jane to marry someone else. Lord Emsworth previously agreed to give Abercrombie the position of land agent at Blandings, but Constance pushes Emsworth, who just wants to be left alone so he can read Whiffle on The Care Of The Pig, to rescind the job offer. This dismays Jane.

The butler Beach brings an airgun and a box of ammunition to Emsworth. The gun was confiscated from young George on Lady Constance’s instructions. George shot Baxter in the seat of the trousers while Baxter was tying his shoes. Emsworth again sympathizes with George. He reminisces about a time in his youth when his sister Julia borrowed his airgun to shoot her governess, and Beach mentions that he also had an airgun when he was young. Later, Emsworth sees Baxter outside bending over to pick up a cigarette. Acting on an impulse inspired by his childhood memories, Emsworth shoots Baxter with the airgun through a window. Baxter angrily comes into the room, thinking that George shot him again. Constance, however, suspects that Emsworth shot Baxter. Jane saw Emsworth shoot Baxter and threatens to tell Constance unless he writes a letter to Abercrombie giving him the land agent job. Emsworth writes the letter for her.

Baxter eavesdropped on their conversation and knows Emsworth shot him. To keep Baxter from telling Constance, Emsworth reluctantly offers him his old job as secretary, which Baxter gladly accepts. However, Beach later delivers a note from Baxter in which he declines the job and says he will leave Blandings. Emsworth fears Baxter has decided to tell Constance after all, and Jane advises him to deny everything Baxter says. Furthermore, Beach announces he is resigning. Constance admits she shot Beach with George’s airgun on an impulse. Though Emsworth had thought he remembered Julia shooting the governess, it had actually been Constance. Emsworth is alarmed about their indispensable butler resigning but relieved that Constance can hardly reproach him now.

In front of Constance, Baxter accuses Emsworth of shooting him, which Emsworth denies, and says he was willing to return as secretary until Emsworth shot him a second time, though Emsworth only shot him once. Constance wants Baxter to stay, but Emsworth insists that Baxter will go, and that Jane will marry Abercrombie as she wants to. Beach tells Emsworth that he is resigning because he acted on an impulse and shot Baxter (though Baxter mistakenly thought Emsworth shot him again). He is not resigning because of Constance and says her shot actually missed. Emsworth convinces Beach to stay by telling him that Baxter is leaving, and decides to test his aim by again shooting Baxter through a window. Baxter shouts and immediately leaves on his motorcycle. Beach raises a glass of port in a toast to Emsworth’s success.

“Buried Treasure”

UK: Strand, September 1936

US: This Week, 27 September 1936 (as “Hidden Treasure”)

Plot

Mr Mulliner’s nephew Brancepeth wants to marry his beloved Muriel, but hasn’t a sou to do it on, so her father Lord Bromborough is forcing her to marry the boob of the first water Edwin Potter (heir of Potter’s Potted Meats). Bromborough has a weakness, though: his great moustache Joyeuse, which he compares favorably to Love in Idleness, the facial decoration of Potter’s father Sir Preston. Having been invited to Rumpling Hall to paint a portrait of Lord Bromborough, Brancepeth realizes that if he can turn a moustachless Bromborough into an animated cartoon in Hollywood, fame, fortune, and Muriel are his.

“The Letter of the Law”

UK: Strand, April 1936

US: Red Book, April 1936 (as “Not Out of Distance”)

Plot

The President’s Cup and the love of Gwendoline Poskitt occasion the only time the Oldest Member ever saw profit from driving into anyone. Young Wilmot Byng loves Gwendoline, but has recently smitten her father (a member of the Wrecking Crew) a juicy one on the leg for holding up play. To win her hand, the Oldest Member recommends that Wilmot appease Poskitt, and he does so—up to the day of the President’s Cup match. In that match, Poskitt plays well above form, but ends up in match play against Wadsworth Hemmingway, an ex-lawyer-turned-golfer who carries the Book of Rules in his bag and makes it his best club. With one swing, Wilmot ensures that Poskitt gets the Cup and Wilmot gets his bride.

“Farewell to Legs”

US: This Week, 14 July 1935 (omitting Oldest Member introduction)

UK: Strand, May 1936

The title is a play on Ernest Hemingway’s 1929 novel, A Farewell to Arms.

Plot

The betrothal of Evangeline Brackett to Angus McTavish is built, in large part, on the way she bites her lip and rolls her eyes when she tops her drive, says the Oldest Member. But when Legs Mortimer takes up residence in the Clubhouse, Evangeline’s mind wanders from her golf, and Angus worries that she is losing her form for the Ladies’ Medal. But the scales fall from Evangeline’s eyes when Legs does the unthinkable on the links.

“There’s Always Golf”

US: Red Book, February 1936 (as “A Triple Threat Man”)

UK: Strand, March 1936

Plot

Clarice Fitch was a force to be reckoned with, recalls the Oldest Member, and weedy, bespectacled accountant Ernest Plinlimmon is powerfully affected by the impact of her personality. But like hundreds of others, he escapes her notice, until he encounters her on the eighteenth fairway, needing a four to win the Medals Competition. But she is not playing—she is tying her shoelace. When a forceful woman comes between a man and a coveted tournament medal, she sees the true depths of his soul.

“The Masked Troubadour”

US: Saturday Evening Post, 28 November 1936 (as “Reggie and the Greasy Bird”, with different setting & characters)

UK: Strand, December 1936

“Reggie and the Greasy Bird” is a rewritten version of the story with different characters, created because Wodehouse needed the money for his taxes.[2]

Plot

At the Drones Club, two Beans see Freddie Widgeon handing money to a greasy-looking man. A Crumpet explains that the man, Jos. Waterbury, is a professional pianist, and Freddie feels obliged to give him money occasionally. The Crumpet tells the following story.

Freddie has lunch with his uncle, Lord Blicester (pronounced “blister”). Blicester has invited his friend Lady Pinfold and her daughter Dora to lunch. He wants Freddie to marry Dora. Freddie falls in love with Dora. She volunteers at a sort of Mission where they are putting on an entertainment. Freddie sings for the event, accompanied by Dora on the piano. He is a hit and invites the audience to return in a week for buns and cocoa. However, he does not have enough money to pay for the food. His uncle gives him ten pounds, but Freddie thinks he needs more. At the Drones, Freddie sees a kid, Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps’s cousin Egbert. Fellow Drone Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright says that Egbert can hit anything with a Brazil nut fired from a catapult. Freddie bets Catsmeat five pounds that Egbert cannot shoot the hat off an old gentleman leaving a cab. Freddie loses the bet, and sees that it was Blicester whose hat was knocked off. Incidentally, Blicester came to get two pounds ten shillings back.

Freddie decides to sing in an East End music hall’s Amateur Night to win the five-pound prize. He pays Waterbury five shillings to be his accompanist. Blicester is nearby, so Freddie disguises himself with a mask and calls himself The Masked Troubadour. Freddie sings well, but a red-headed man in the audience, “Ginger” Murphy, recognizes Waterbury. He throws an egg at Waterbury, which misses. They argue and a food fight breaks out. Waterbury flees to a pub, where Freddie and Murphy follow. A bar-room brawl ensues. Outside, Blicester sees Freddie get thrown out. When he grabs Freddie’s arm, Freddie mistakes him for a brawler and hits him in the midriff before rejoining the brawl. The next day, Blicester decides to send Freddie away to the country for a few weeks. Freddie calls Dora and tells her everything; she hangs up on him. Waterbury thanks Freddie for saving him in the brawl, and plays on Freddie’s sympathy to get some money from him.

The version titled “Reggie and the Greasy Bird” features Reggie Mumford and is very similar to the Freddie Widgeon version. Reggie is a member of the Junior Rotters Club instead of the Drones, where his fellow member is Beano Bagshot rather than Catsmeat. His uncle is Lord Uppingham, and the girl he falls for is Constance Rackstraw. At the Amateur Night competition, he is accompanied by the greasy-looking pianist Sid Montrose. Ginger Murphy’s name is not changed.

“Ukridge and the Home from Home”

US: Cosmopolitan, February 1931

UK: Strand, June 1931

Plot

Ukridge arrives at his friend Jimmy Corcoran’s house at 3 a.m., dressed in his pyjamas and mackintosh. He relates to his friend how he had been left in charge of his Aunt Julia’s house, and had come up with the ingenious idea of renting out rooms to an exclusive clientele of boarders while she was away.

For a time the plan goes smoothly. With the staff bribed to help, he fills the house with paying guests, and rakes in their money while playing the gracious host. However, meeting an old friend of his Aunt’s, he hears she is returning sooner than expected, and tries to think of a way to get rid of the guests before their contracted stays are up.

After a plot to imply the drainage in the house is faulty fails, Ukridge decides to claim the house is infected with Scarlet fever, but receiving a telegram from his aunt saying she will arrive in Paris the following week, and knowing a trip there always takes his aunt a few weeks, decides to delay shutting down his plan to grab a few more weeks rent.

Soon after, the house is aroused by shooting. One of guests, the retired Lieutenant-Colonel B. B. Bagnew, convinced he has seen a burglar, opened fire with his service revolver. Ukridge calms the house, but on retiring to bed, finds Aunt Julia hiding in the cupboard, convinced the butler has gone insane. Ukridge attempts to smuggle her out of the house, but she insists on getting some things from her bedroom. Entering the room, she disturbs the guest staying there, who screams; the Colonel rushes in and opens fire once more. Ukridge, taking advantage of the confusion, grabs his coat and slips away, ending up at his friend’s bedside in the small hours of the night.

“The Come-back of Battling Billson”

US: Cosmopolitan, June 1935

UK: Strand, July 1935

Plot

Corky, having had a story idea turned down by Hollywood, attacks the talking picture, but his friend Ukridge comes to its defence. He has, he says, always had a special affection for the talkies. He tells his friend why…

About to be left alone once more at his Aunt Julia’s house, Ukridge realises he can make some quick cash by renting out the lawns to a party of folk dancers. Of course, Aunt Julia’s trip is unexpectedly cancelled, and Ukridge needs some cash to pay back the dancers, who are upset at having their party cancelled at the last minute.

Ukridge sets up a bout for “Battling” Billson, using the man’s desire to wed his girl Flossie to persuade him to take part. Finding Billson’s training methods (mostly involving ale and cigars) somewhat lacking, Ukridge inveigles the big boxer into his Aunt’s house as an odd-job man, allowing him to personally supervise the training regime. His aunt is a little nonplussed, but is soon persuaded everything is alright.

The training continues apace, but Billson seems to be benefitting little. His waist expands and his wind does not. The butler Oakshott, it emerges, having wowed Billson with his dignified manner, is now plying the boxer with an excess of food, cigars and port. Ukridge has just discovered that the conniving butler has money on Billson’s opponent in the upcoming bout, when Aunt Julia learns of Ukridge’s dance scheme, and throws him out of the house. He tries to persuade Billson to leave with him, but the big man resolutely refuses.

Ukridge, seeing disaster loom, fetches Flossie to the house to talk some sense into Billson. They find he has gone to the movie theatre with the butler, and hasten down there, but Flossie is as weak before the butler’s fatherly gaze as Billson himself. All four of them end up in the cinema, at a screening of The Jazz Singer. When the talking starts up, Billson is enraged, calling loudly for quiet in the cinema. The audience reacts strongly, fighting ensues, and Billson is hauled off to jail for two weeks. He emerges trim and in top form, easily besting his opponent in the ring.

“The Level Business Head”

UK: Strand, May 1926

US: Liberty 8 May 1926

Plot

Corky is surprised to find himself dining at Ukridge’s Aunt Julia’s house, where he is not usually welcome; Ukridge explains that he has recently acquired a certain degree of power over his aunt, thanks to his having pawned her brooch. He explains…

Ukridge runs into Joe the Lawyer, a notorious bookmaker, and is offered the chance to buy a half-share in a dog with excellent prospects. Ukridge can’t afford the stake £50, of course, so at first refuses, but later that day Aunt Julia, about to depart on yet another tour, tasks him with collecting her brooch from a jeweller’s and locking it safely in her desk. He pawns the brooch, and hands the cash over to Joe the Lawyer. The next day, Joe informs him that the dog has died and offers to reimburse him £5, leaving Ukridge considerably short of the money he needs to buy back the brooch.

Angelica Vining, a friend of Aunt Julia’s, arrives having been told she can borrow the brooch and lent the key to the drawer, but Ukridge pockets the key and sends the woman away. He heads to Lewes races to rake back some money, and there meets Joe the Lawyer once more. He tries to borrow money from him, but is refused, and learns that Joe has raffled the dead dog for a considerable sum. He gets a lift with Joe to the next race meet at Sandown Park Racecourse, as a favour.

On the way, the car overheats and breaks down. Visiting a nearby house to fetch water, they find it guarded by a fearsome dog; Joe, afraid of dogs, drops his bag full of money in the garden as he flees. Ukridge sees that the dog is harmless, and tells Joe he will retrieve the bag for £50, an offer which Joe accepts, but while Ukridge is playing merrily with the dog, Joe grabs the bag himself, and refuses to pay.

When Joe goes off to find water elsewhere, Ukridge meets the owner of the house, and buys his dog from him for 5 shillings. He puts the dog in the car, and when Joe returns and finds he cannot get into his car, Ukridge offers to sell him the dog, for £100. He then charges a further £50 to remove the dog from the car, returns it to its previous owner, and returns home with his pockets full.

Aunt Julia, returning in a rage at hearing her friend has been refused the loan of her brooch, tells Ukridge she is sure he has pawned it; she makes him force open the drawer, and is deflated to find it sitting there, having been returned just in time, giving Ukridge an advantage over his distrustful aunt.

My Thoughts:

The ONE story about Blandings Castle was amusing. All of the others, not nearly as much.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Blandings Castle and Elsewhere ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Blandings Castle and Elsewhere
Series: Blandings Castle #5
Authors: PG Wodehouse
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 229
Words: 82.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The first six stories all take place at the book’s namesake Blandings Castle; they are set some time between the events of Leave it to Psmith (1923) and those of Summer Lightning (1929). Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle is depicted as a gentleman farmer, growing prize pumpkins and especially concerned with his prize pig, Empress of Blandings; he is also concerned with his nieces and nephews as well as the love life of his younger son Freddie Threepwood. The seventh story concerns Bobbie Wickham, an acquaintance and sometime fiancée of Bertie Wooster, who also appears in three of the stories in Mr Mulliner Speaking. The last five are narrated by Mr Mulliner and are set in Hollywood among the movie studios that Wodehouse knew from his time as a screenwriter in 1930–31.

For more detailed synopses, please visit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blandings_Castle_and_Elsewhere

My Thoughts:

A nice light collection of short stories. The Blandings Castle short stories were everything I could have wanted and were close to a 4.5star rating. Sadly, the rest of the short stories about others aren’t as good. In fact, the one with Bobbie Wickham annoyed me to no end. Wickham is the most annoying girl ever and I didn’t like her in the Jeeves & Wooster stories and I certainly didn’t like her here. The hollywood movie stories simply reinforced my views on Hollywood as a den of iniquity that makes Mos Eisley look like a convent by comparison.

I had dipped my toes back into the Gulag Archipelago this past weekend as I was feeling pretty good after reading MHI Bloodlines and I was only able to get through 5 percent on my kindle before I had to stop. Even One Piece yesterday didn’t really get me out of the funk it put me in. Thankfully, this did the trick. Not that I’m recommending that course of action to any of you, but if you do ever decide to read Gulag, then have some lighter material on hand, you’ll sorely need it.

And I’m done. I’m getting worded out here folks. It is a good thing it is almost the end of the month. I’ll have to come up with some sort of plan to change things for June. That gives me just over a week to think of something and talk about it in the monthly roundup & ramblings.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Heavy Weather ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Heavy Weather
Series: Blandings Castle #4
Authors: PG Wodehouse
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 218
Words: 82K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Plot introduction

With the Hon. Galahad’s reminiscences removed from the market, publisher Lord Tilbury is anxious to get hold of the manuscript, while Lady Constance Keeble and Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe want to lay hands on it for quite other reasons. Lord Emsworth fears that Parsloe-Parsloe is out to spoil his prize pig Empress of Blandings’ chances at the forthcoming county show, and keeps detective Pilbeam on hand to keep watch. Meanwhile, Sue Brown is anxious to hide her old friendship with Monty Bodkin from her jealous fiance Ronnie Fish, giving his mother Lady Julia a chance to talk him out of the unsuitable marriage…

Plot summary

Monty Bodkin, despite his wealth, needs to hold a job down for a full year so when he is sacked from his job, he jumps at a tip that his old job as secretary is available, especially on hearing that his former fiancee will be on the premises.

Hearing that Monty is on his way, and concerned about Ronnie’s jealous nature, Sue heads to London, dines with Bodkin and warns him to be distant. On the train back, they both encounter Ronnie’s formidable mother and claim not to know each other. Lady Julia, having seen Sue and Monty at lunch together, tells her son about their suspicious behaviour, and Ronnie is at once convinced that Sue loves Monty.

Meanwhile, Connie and Parsloe-Parsloe, unaware of these developments, task Percy Pilbeam with obtaining Galahad’s manuscript, used to ensure Sue and Ronnie’s marriage is permitted. Lord Tilbury, also wanting the book, visits the castle and is rebuffed. Leaving, he calls on the Empress, but is locked in a shed by Pirbright the pig-man, instructed by a suspicious Lord Emsworth to guard the pig closely. He is released by Monty Bodkin, who he persuades to steal the book by offering him a year’s guaranteed employment—he is worried about his tenure at the castle, as Lord Emsworth suspects him, being the nephew of his rival Parsloe-Parsloe, of scheming to nobble his pig, the Empress.

Beach, catching Pilbeam in the act of grabbing the book, tells Galahad and is instructed to guard the book himself. When he overhears Tilbury and Bodkin plotting in the garden at the Emsworth Arms however, he sees the task is too much for him and hands the book on to Ronnie Fish. Fish is distracted by his loss of Sue’s love, but once the storm breaks feels better; he sees Monty Bodkin, drenched from the rain, and is friendly towards him. However, when he sees “Sue” tattooed on Bodkin’s chest, his mood turns sour once more.

Sue, having heard Ronnie’s kind words, is also cheered and rushes to find Ronnie; when he is once more cold and distant, she breaks down and breaks off the engagement. Bodkin finds Ronnie and asks him a favour—to get Beach to hand over the book, explaining he needs it to marry his girl. Ronnie, inwardly furious, chivalrously hands it over. Gally sees Sue is upset, learns all and confronts Ronnie with his idiocy. He explains about Bodkin and Sue, and Ronnie forgives her. Gally then confronts his sisters, threatening them once more with his book; although Julia is at first unmoved, when Gally relates a few of the stories it contains concerning her late husband “Fishy” Fish, she is defeated.

Bodkin, having engaged Pilbeam to find the book for him, tells the detective he is no longer needed, revealing where he has hidden the manuscript. Pilbeam steals it, planning to auction it between Tilbury and the Connie-Parsloe syndicate, and hides it in a disused shed. He informs Lord Emsworth that Bodkin released Tilbury, and Bodkin is fired. Pilbeam is summoned to see Lady Constance, and primes himself with a bottle of champagne. She is insulting, and Pilbeam vows to sell the book to Tilbury, who he calls promising to deliver it, but he retires to bed first to sleep off the booze.

Lord Emsworth, having moved the Empress to her new sty for safety, finds her eating the manuscript. Pilbeam sees this, and hurries to Connie and Parsloe-Parsloe, but is denied his fee when they find the pig has eaten the book. He then rushes to the Emsworth Arms, and gets a cheque out of Lord Tilbury, telling him the book is in the pigsty. Bodkin is on hand, however, and destroys the cheque and warns Emsworth by phone that someone is heading for his sty. Later, full of remorse, he offers Pilbeam a thousand pounds to employ him for a year in his agency.

While Emsworth is being badgered by his sisters into denying Ronnie his money, a mud-spattered Lord Tilbury is brought in, captured by Pirbright. Gally and Sue then appear, informing Emsworth that Ronnie has the pig in his car and will drive off with it if denied his cash. Emsworth coughs up, and the happy couple depart, much to Gally’s satisfaction.

My Thoughts:

I was afraid this series, with it’s running gag about Lord Emsworth’s pig and the scandalous book and the young couples in love would get tiresome. I stand here to proclaim to you that so far, that fear has not materialized. I laughed my head off, yet again, at another Wodehouse humorous plot that was insane.

I hate to say it, but really, that first paragraph sums up my entire experience with this book. I was afraid it was going to be bad, it wasn’t and I had a great time. What is nice is that this is not a re-skinned Jeeves and Wooster. The butler in this series is most definitely NOT Jeeves and while most of the young people fit into the Wooster mold, none of them are Wooster. In some ways its a fine distinction but it gives this series some extra oomph and, I think, staying-power.

Of course, when I was reading Jeeves, by the third book I wasn’t thinking it would get tiresome either. See, I can make up drama about books with the best of them. And sometimes, you just gotta make it up because otherwise you end up writing a review that consists of “I enjoyed this book”.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Summer Lightning ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Summer Lightning
Series: Blandings Castle #3
Authors: PG Wodehouse
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 240
Words: 84K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Hugo Carmody, who became secretary to Lord Emsworth following the failure of The Hot Spot, the night club he ran with Ronnie Fish, is conducting a secret affair with Millicent Threepwood, Emsworth’s niece. They hide this from Lady Constance, who is distracted with worries that the book of memoirs her brother Galahad is writing will bring shame to the family.

Ronnie, meanwhile, is secretly engaged to Sue Brown, a chorus girl and an old friend of Hugo. When they run into Lady Constance in London one day, Ronnie introduces Sue as Myra Schoonmaker, an American heiress he and his mother Lady Julia recently met in Biarritz.

Ronnie travels to Blandings, where Baxter has just returned, called in by Lady Constance to steal the memoirs. Hoping to get money out of Lord Emsworth, his trustee, Ronnie claims to love pigs, but his uncle has seen him bouncing a tennis ball on the Empress’ back, and is enraged. Ronnie, inspired, steals the pig, planning to return it and earn his uncle’s gratitude, roping in Beach to help; they hide her in a cottage in the woods.

Hugo is sent to London to fetch a detective; the job is refused by Percy Pilbeam. Hugo takes Sue out dancing, but when Ronnie arrives at the club he sees Pilbeam, who admires Sue, sat at her table. Ronnie gets angry at Pilbeam, makes a scene, spends a night in jail, and in the morning snubs Sue, who he believes has betrayed him. Millicent, feeling the same about Hugo, breaks off their engagement also. Meanwhile, Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, worrying about the memoirs, hires Pilbeam to retrieve them; Pilbeam agrees, realising he can use the pig-finding job to get into the castle.

Sue heads to Blandings, posing as Myra Schoonmaker. Just after her arrival, Mortimer Mason, Sue’s employer, visits Galahad in the library to discuss the memoirs. He recognizes Sue in the garden and talks about her, so Galahad learns her true identity, sharing the knowledge only with Sue. Percy Pilbeam arrives, recognises Sue, and tries to get her help in his memoir-stealing scheme. Baxter, meanwhile, has grown suspicious that the pig was stolen by Carmody as a means of insuring his job; he spots Beach heading off to feed the pig, and follows him, just as the storm breaks.

Beach reaches the cottage to find Hugo and Millicent, gone there to shelter from the rain. Their relationship is healed, Hugo having explained about Sue and Ronnie, and Beach, protecting Ronnie, claims he stole the pig for Hugo to return and win Lord Emsworth’s favour. Beach leaves, as Carmody takes the pig to a new hiding spot.

Baxter accuses Beach in front of Emsworth, and the three of them head to the cottage, Emsworth growing ever warier of Baxter’s sanity. They find no pig, Carmody having moved it to Baxter’s caravan, where Pilbeam, also caught in the rain, saw him stow it. While Emsworth, Lady Constance, Gally and Millicent go to dinner with Parsloe-Parsloe (lured away to leave the memoirs unguarded), Ronnie Fish confronts Pilbeam, and learns that Sue was indeed out in London with Carmody, and that she has come to Blandings to be near Ronnie.

Pilbeam gets tipsy, and tells Beach about Sue, and then tells Carmody that he saw him hide the pig. Carmody, in a panic, calls Millicent at Matchingham Hall; she advises him to tell Emsworth where the pig is at once. He does so, Emsworth is overjoyed, and agrees to their marriage, much to Lady Constance’s disgust.

Meanwhile, Baxter intercepts a telegram meant for Lady Constance from Myra Schoonmaker in Paris, and goes to the imposter Sue’s room to retrieve a note he sent her, criticising Lord Emsworth. Trapped by Beach bringing her dinner, he hides under the bed while she and Ronnie are reunited. Ronnie spots Pilbeam climbing into the room to steal Galahad’s memoirs, and chases him downstairs; the returning dinner party assume they are fleeing Baxter, now confirmed as mad by the presence of the stolen pig in his caravan, and Emsworth charges into Sue’s room with a shotgun. Baxter crawls out from under the bed, flustered and enraged by his experience and Emsworth’s harsh words, reveals Sue’s deception and storms off.

Galahad, learning that Sue Brown is Dolly Henderson’s daughter, reveals that he loved her mother but was forbidden to marry her, and views Sue as a kind of honorary daughter. He tells Lady Constance that he will suppress his book if she agrees to sanction Sue and Ronnie’s marriage, and to persuade her sister Julia to do likewise. Pilbeam, hearing this as he once again climbs the drainpipe, gives up his mission, leaving Galahad to tell Sue the old story of Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe and the prawns.

My Thoughts:

First off, somehow I skipped over the second book in this “very loose” series and I think I know how it happened. Book 2 is called “Leave It To Psmith” and it is part of another series by Wodehouse about some chappie named Psmith. So technically, it is book 2 of Blandings Castle and book 4 of Psmith. Good thing it isn’t confusing at all eh? I’ve got it sorted out now though, so at some point I’ll eventually get around to it. Not sure if it will be next or the last one I read.

On to this book.

Wodehouse has a short introduction and one of the paragraphs goes thusly:

“A certain critic – for such men, I regret to say, do exist – made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained ‘all the old Wodehouse characters under different names’. He has probably by now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled the man this time by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy.”

Now, how can you read something like that and expect this book to be anything but an uproariously good time? The answer is that you can’t. Unless you’re a horrible person without a good sense of humor. If that describes you, I will pray for you. Because you’re going to need it! It is a little known fact but amongst the deepest of the theologians and apologists for Christianity it is known that Saint Peter will ask everyone just one question that will determine if they get into heaven or not. That question is “Did you like PG Wodehouse?” Astounding, isn’t it? I always knew I was a good Christian!

Since you’ve had your theology lesson, time to move on to the bits and bobs of the book. In many ways I am enjoying these more than the Jeeves & Wooster series and I put that down squarely to having many more “main characters” than just J&W. While each novel so far has had 2-3 “main” characters, most of the time they don’t get any more time than 3-4 other side characters. So you end up with 5-6+ characters all running around doing their thing and Wodehouse deftly weaves in the humor and misunderstandings that make me roar with laughter. It really does feel like I am reading a “weaving”, a tapestry of human humor and silliness.

I am hoping the larger cast of characters can keep things fresher, as J&W were getting stale by the end.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Something New (Blandings Castle #1) ★★★★☆

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Title: Something New
Series: Blandings Castle #1
Authors: PG Wodehouse
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Humor
Pages: 183
Words: 75K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Ashe Marson and his fellow lodger Joan Valentine discover that they both work as writers for the Mammoth Publishing Company. Joan urges Ashe to overcome his discontentment and take a fresh direction in life.

Meanwhile, Freddie Threepwood, younger son of the Earl of Emsworth, is engaged to marry Aline Peters, the daughter of American millionaire J. Preston Peters. Freddie pays a visit to a shady fixer, R. Jones, hoping to recover letters he once sent to a certain chorus girl, feeling they might be used to make a breach of promise case against him. His father later calls on Aline’s father to view his collection of scarabs and absent-mindedly puts Mr Peters’ prize exhibit in his pocket. Though Peters suspects the Earl, he cannot confront him for fear of endangering his daughter’s marriage.

Aline is being pursued by George Emerson, a Hong Kong police officer, who wishes to marry her. Having befriended Freddie Threepwood, George has been invited to Blandings Castle, the family home, at the same time that Aline and her father are paying a visit. R. Jones finds the address of Freddie’s ex-sweetheart, Joan Valentine, who tells him she has long since destroyed any letters she may have had from Freddie. As Jones is leaving, Aline, a former school friend of Joan, arrives on a visit, and the suspicious Jones listens at the door. Hearing that Aline’s father is offering £1,000 to anybody who can retrieve his scarab, Joan decides that she will go herself to Blandings, posing as Aline’s maid, so as to recover the scarab and scoop the reward. Acting separately, Ashe answers a newspaper advert and is engaged as his valet by Mr. Peters, who is looking for somebody to steal back the scarab during his visit to Blandings.

Ashe informs Joan about this as they both take the train from London. During the trip Joan warns Ashe of the complicated system of etiquette observed among servants of a large house. She hopes this will persuade him to give up his quest and remove himself as her competitor. After their arrival, Ashe is terrified to be interviewed by the butler, Beach, and has to listen to a recital of his troubles with his feet and his stomach. Mr Peters also has stomach trouble and Ashe threatens him with non-cooperation unless he takes some exercise and stops smoking cigars.

At night, Ashe and Joan are both trying to get at the scarab when Lord Emsworth’s watchful secretary, Rupert Baxter, nearly catches them. Next morning, Ashe and Joan decide to become allies and, after flipping a coin, agree to take turns at stealing the scarab. Since Aline is following the same reduced diet as her father, George steals downstairs to prepare her a midnight feast and collides with Ashe in the dark hall. They start a noisy fight but escape after the suspicious Baxter trips over them and is found surrounded by food and broken china by the time the lights are turned on. He is blamed for waking everyone and roundly criticised by Lord Emsworth for going in search of food in the middle of the night.

The next night is Joan’s turn to make her attempt, but she finds the scarab has already gone. Putting together clues, she and Ashe discover that Freddie needs money to pay R. Jones, who is pretending that Joan is demanding it for the return of his letters. But Freddie is an admirer of the detective tales that Ashe writes and decides to trust him, confessing to the theft and returning the scarab. As Ashe leaves, Lord Emsworth arrives to announce that Aline has eloped on the train to London with George Emerson, who has been recalled to Hong Kong. Freddie is more relieved than hurt at this revelation.

When Ashe returns the scarab, Mr Peters offers to take Ashe back to America as his personal trainer in reward for the improvement in his health. Ashe hesitates long enough to ask Joan to marry him, and she admits she has been grieving at what seems to be the end of their partnership; as a result, a scullery maid looking out of the window has her dull life enriched as she sees them kissing.

My Thoughts:

First things first. The American title is “Something New” while the UK release is titled “Something Fresh”. I can only imagine that thoughts of rotting fish is what prompted the title change by the US publishers.

It’s been over a year since I last read a book by Wodehouse. Chris Dolley’s Reeves & Worcesterseries was a nice little interlude and made me realize that my tolerance for Wodehousian humor had returned and thus it was time to return to the master. I was not disappointed.

Unlike the Jeeves and Wooster series, there one was not one (or two really) main characters with one of them being a clueless idiot. While Ashe and Joan are the ostensible main characters, you get just as much input from others that it didn’t feel like the story revolved only around them. It was also nice that they weren’t blithering idiots but hardworking, smart and dependable people. But have no fear! If blithering idiots is what gets your motor running, Wodehouse does include Freddie. Freddie is an idiot of the Wooster school. Thankfully, his part was rather small, as I find that too much can make it wear very thin, very fast.

There is a tv show based on the Blandings Castle series and I have watched it. It was quite amusing too and I’ll probably stick it back on my watch list. Nothing in it touched on this story (there are 12 Blandings books I believe) so I don’t know if it takes its storyline from later books or just takes the characters and does its own thing. Either way, it was nice and light, just like this book.

I do recommend this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.