Saturday, 21 January 2012

Review:- P G WODEHOUSE- various

Year Published: - see below
Where the books were from:- Kindle editions
ISBN: - -
Pages: - -pp
Genre: - Humour
Location:- Shropshire /London, England
How I came across them: - reading my way through some Wodehouse for the second or third time.

Something Fresh (1915) Rating: - ***** ***** 
Print Length: 256 pages
Leave it to Psmith (1923) Rating: - ***** ***  Print Length: 256 pages
Summer Lightning (1929) Rating: - ***** ****  Print Length: 256 pages
Pigs have Wings (1952) Rating: - ***** ***  Print Length: 276 pages
Aunts aren’t Gentlemen (1974)Rating: - ***** **  Print Length: 196 pages

General comments:- Typical Wodehouse humour and light-hearted looks at Blandings Castle, its occupants and visitors with a bit of Jeeves thrown in for good measure... One of the best Wodehouse quotes of all times appears at the start of ‘Summer Lightning’
"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."
As Marian Keyes commented about Wodehouse:-
The ultimate in comfort reading because nothing bad ever happens in P.G. Wodehouse land. Or even if it does, it’s always sorted out by the end of the book. For as long as I’m immersed in a P.G. Wodehouse book, it’s possible to keep the real world at bay and live in a far, far nicer, funnier one where happy endings are the order of the day.


From ‘Something Fresh’

Science, with a thousand triumphs to her credit, has not yet succeeded in discovering the correct reply for a young man to make who finds himself in the appalling position of being apologized to by a pretty girl. If he says nothing, he seems sullen and unforgiving. If he says anything, he makes a fool of himself. Ashe, hesitating between these two courses....

The singing in the bathroom was increasing in volume, but Lord Emsworth heard it now without wincing. It was amazing what a difference it made to a man’s comfort, this fair prospect of getting his younger son off his hands.

He was as completely happy as only a fluffy-minded old man with excellent health and a large income can be.

Ashe drifted out. He was conscious of a wish that he understood girls. Girls, in his opinion, were odd.

This odd impulse to leap across the compartment and kiss Joan was not love. It was merely the natural desire of a good-hearted young man to be decently chummy with his species.

‘Well, as Mr Peters’ valet, I suppose you will be rather a big man.’
‘I shan’t feel it.’
‘However large the house-party is, Mr Peters is sure to be the principal guest, so your standing will be correspondingly magnificent. You come after the butler, the housekeeper, the groom of the chambers, Lord Emsworth’s valet, Lady Ann Warblington’s lady’s maid—’
‘Who is she?’
‘Lady Ann? Lord Emsworth’s sister. She has lived with him since his wife died. What was I saying? Oh yes. After them come the Hon. Frederick Threepwood’s valet and myself, and then you.’
‘I’m not so high up then, after all?’
‘Yes, you are. There’s a whole crowd who come after you. It all depends on how many other guests there are besides Mr Peters.’
‘I suppose I charge in at the head of a drove of housemaids and scullery-maids?’
‘My dear Mr Marson, if a housemaid or a scullery-maid tried to get into the Steward’s Room and have her meals with us, she would be—’
‘Rebuked by the butler?’
‘Lynched, I should think. Kitchen-maids and scullery-maids eat in the kitchen. Chauffeurs, footmen, under-butler pantry-boys, hall-boys, odd man and steward’s room footman take their meals in the Servants’ Hall, waited on by the hall-boy. The still-room maids have breakfast and tea in the still-room and dinner and supper in the Hall. The housemaids and nursery-maids have breakfast and tea in the housemaids’

A fruity voice, like old tawny port made audible, said ‘Come in.’

Mr Beach was too well bred to be inquisitive, but his eyebrows were not. Ah!’ he said. ‘?’, cried his eyebrows. ‘? ? ?’

Lord Emsworth belonged to the people-like-to-be-left-alone-to-amuse-themselves-when-they-come-to-a-place school of hosts. He pottered about...

From ‘Summer Lightning’
‘He is grossly inefficient. And,’ said Lady Constance, unmasking her batteries, ‘I consider that he spends far too much of his time mooning around you, my dear. He appears to imagine that he is at Blandings Castle simply to dance attendance on you.’ The charge struck Millicent as unjust. She thought of pointing out that she and Hugo only met occasionally and then on the sly, but it occurred to her that the plea might be injudicious. She bent over the spaniel. A keen observer might have noted a defensiveness in her manner. She looked like a girl preparing to cope with an aunt.

The advance guard of the company appeared, in the shape of a flock of musicians. They passed out of the stage door, first a couple of thirsty-looking flutes, then a group of violins, finally an oboe by himself with a scowl on his face. Oboes are always savage in captivity.

He still thought Pilbeam should not have been wearing pimples with a red tie. One or the other if he liked. But not both.

A psychically gifted bystander, standing in the hall of the block of flats, would have heard at this moment a faint moan. It was Sue’s conscience collapsing beneath an unexpected flank attack.

But there had been a decade in his life, that dangerous decade of the twenties, when he had accumulated a past so substantial that a less able man would have been compelled to spread it over a far longer period.

‘Oh?’ said Millicent dully. She had dropped into a chair and picked up a book. She looked like something that might have occurred to Ibsen in one of his less frivolous moments.

Statistics relating to madness among coots are not to hand, but we may safely doubt whether even in the ranks of these notoriously unbalanced birds there could have been found at this moment one who was feeling half as mad as he did.

That grey, threatening sky had turned black by now. It was a swollen mass of inky clouds, heavy with the thunder, lightning and rain which so often come in the course of an English summer to remind the island race that they are hardy Nordics and must not be allowed to get their fibre all sapped by eternal sunshine like the less favoured dwellers in more southerly climes.

But the milk of human kindness, of which the butler was so full, had not yet been delivered on Baxter’s doorstep.

Before, he would gladly have murdered Beach and James and danced on their graves. Now, he would have been satisfied with straight murder.

Hugo squeezed her fondly and with the sort of relief that comes to men who find themselves squeezing where they had not thought to.

From Leave it to Psmith:-
‘Are you really broke?’
‘As broke as the Ten Commandments.’

…That low moaning sound you hear is the wolf bivouacked outside my door.

Go to her and say, “Susan, you are a very pretty girl. What would you do if I were to kiss you?” If she is a detective, she will reply, “How dare you, sir!” or, possibly, more simply, “Sir!” Whereas if she is the genuine housemaid I believe her to be and only sweeps under bureaux out of pure zeal, she will giggle and remark, “Oh, don’t be silly, sir!” You appreciate the distinction?’

A depressing musty scent pervaded the place, as if a cheese had recently died there in painful circumstances.

From Pigs Have Wings:-
‘He is stout, this Parsloe?’
‘He certainly gets his pennyworth out of a weighing machine.’

Left alone, Lord Emsworth sat for a while savouring that delicious sense of peace which comes to men of quiet tastes when their womenfolk have said their say and departed.

He rebuked himself for having allowed his thoughts to wander in such a dubious direction. He had received his early education at Harrow, and Old Harrovians, he reminded himself, when they have plighted their troth to Girl A, do not go about folding Girl B in their arms. Old Etonians, yes. Old Rugbeians, possibly. But not Old Harrovians.

I appreciate your surprise. Strongly anti-traditional, you are feeling. Butlers, you say to yourself, don’t kiss guests. Chauffeurs, perhaps. Gamekeepers, possibly. But butlers, never. In extenuation of his odd behaviour, however, I must mention that he is her uncle.

and on one cheek of that dark, saturnine face was a long scar. Actually it had been caused by the bursting of a gingerbeer bottle at a Y.M.C.A. picnic, but it gave the impression of being the outcome of battles with knives in the cellars of the underworld.

From Aunts Aren't Gentlemen:-
I would gladly have continued our conversation, but I knew he must be wanting to get back to his Spinoza. No doubt I had interrupted him just as Spinoza was on the point of solving the mystery of the headless body on the library floor.

AUTHOR Notes:- See Ring for Jeeves

New or unusual words:-
“…pleasure grounds and messuages.” A messuage in property law is a dwelling house together with its outbuildings, curtilage, and the adjacent land appropriated to its use.
Gravamen.” The essence or most serious part of a complaint or accusation; the substance of a charge.
“No jimcrack work here..” Jimcrack or gimcrack means shoddily built.
“so we decided we’d just slide off and spring the news in our bread-and-butter letters.” A bread-and-butter letter was a thank you letter written to people with whom one had been staying upon arriving home.

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