Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reading Journal #12: The Wodehouse Edition

Reading to Know - Book Club

I was excited to see P.G. Wodehouse being featured at Reading to Know's Bookclub selection for April. I have been a big fan of Wodehouse's writing since I first discovered him about five years ago. I find his books very delightful and he has a wonderful way with words. I have found that when I become bored with reading, especially modern fiction, I can pick up a book by Wodehouse and in a couple of weeks the world seems right and I'm off a new reading adventure. Jeeves and Bertie are my favorite books and I have also enjoyed his PSmith and Blandings series. I decided this month to focus on some of his stand alone stories.

Book Description:
Sent to England by his rich American uncle to work for the Mammoth Publishing Corporation, Sam Shotter takes up residence in peaceful Valley Fields so that he can live next door to the girl of his dreams. But life in the suburbs soon hots up when it turns out that Sam's new home is the supposed resting place of stolen millions, now of interest to gangsters Dolly and Soapy Malloy.
This classic early Wodehouse story is enlivened by a cast of familiar characters, including monstrous press magnate, Lord Tilbury, and blithering crook, Chimp Twist.
My thoughts:
My curiosity was definitely piqued when I read the book description. With names like Dolly and Soapy Malloy and Chimp Twist the book is just asking to be read! Sam the Sudden isn't Jeeves and Bertie, but the story is still full of Wodehouse's zany antics and his wonderful humor.

Sam has a lot on his plate. He is trying to woo Kay, who has no time of day for him, while trying to straighten out the love life of his cook and the servant next door. He is working for the cantankerous Lord Tilbury while having to deal with people creeping around his house. Life gets pretty crazy for a while, but as Shakespeare says, "All's well that ends well." and Sam's life ends up pretty good.
Here is some passages I enjoyed:
'Steady with the howitzer!' he urged.
'What say?' said Claire coldly.
'The lethal weapon--be careful with it. It's pointing at me.'
'I know it's pointing at you.'
'Oh, well, so long as it only points,' said Sam.
'Shave it?' quavered Chimp, fondling the growth tenderly. 'Shave my moustache?'
'Shave it,' said Sam firmly. 'Hew it down. Raze it to the soil and sow salt upon the foundations.'
'Anything wrong?'
'It depends on what you call wrong.' Mr Braddock closed the drawing-room door carefully. 'You know Lord Tilbury?'
'Of course I know Lord Tilbury.'
'Well, he's in there,' said Willoughby Braddock, jerking an awed thumb toward the drawing-room, 'and he hasn't got any trousers on.'
SCROLL Pictures, Images and Photos

Book Description:
Piccadilly Jim was a gossip columnist's dream. His life was one breach of promise after another drunken brawl. His rather Victorian aunt was not amused. So she decides to reform him. Unfortunately, she happens to choose a time when Jim has fallen in love and has decided he will reform himself. Life becomes complicated. With a beautiful piece of Wodehouse twisted logic, Jim ends up having to pretend he's himself. Whether this is the apex of honesty or the most base example of dishonesty only you can decide. Whatever it is, it's hilarious.

My thoughts:
Piccadilly Jim was a story I really enjoyed. This ended up being a re-read for me, and I enjoyed it more this time than the first time.Picadilly Jim has some very typical Wodehouse characters in it. First there is the strong, domineering women and hen-pecked husband:
The little photograph had not done Mrs. Pett justice. Seen life-size, she was both handsomer and more formidable than she appeared in reproduction. She was a large woman, with a fine figure and bold and compelling eyes, and her personality crashed disturbingly into the quiet atmosphere of the room. She was the type of woman whom small, diffident men seem to marry instinctively, as unable to help themselves as cockleshell boats sucked into a maelstrom.
There is also the young boy who is extremely rude and horribly spoiled.
Ogden Ford was round and blobby and looked overfed. He had the plethoric habit of one who whom wholesome exercise is a stranger and the sallow complexion of the confirmed candy-fiend.
I think funniest part was when Picadilly Jim's father, who has been stuck in England for years and is suffering from baseball fever, ends up sailing over to New York and becoming the butler for his sister-in-law, Mrs. Pett. Of course, the excitement and suspense build up as Picadilly Jim, who is also trying to hide his identity, becomes involved in kidnapping his Victorian aunt's son, Ogden, and win the love of Ann Chester. Crazy, quirky, and totally Wodehouse!

SCROLL Pictures, Images and Photos
The Girl on the Boat | [P. G. Wodehouse]

Book Description:
Wilhemina 'Billie' Bennett, red-haired daughter of an American millionaire, loves golf, dogs, and Tennyson and is to marry Eustace Hignett, the weak, poetry-writing son of a famous English writer on theosophy. Enter San Marlowe, Eustace's tournament golfing cousin, and Jane Hubbard, Billie's big-game-hunting friend, and another romp in the inimitable Wodehouse style unfolds.
My thoughts:
I actually listened to The Girl on the Boat
Some passages I enjoyed:
'I suppose old Eustace will be getting hitched up one of these days?' said Sam.
Mrs. Hignett started violently.
'Why do you say that?'
'What makes you say that?'
'Oh, well, he's a romantic sort of fellow. Write poetry, and all that.'
'There is no likelihood at all of Eustace marrying. He is a shy and retiring temperament, and sees few women. He's almost a recluse.'
I have tried to draw Samuel Marlowe so that he will live on the printed page. I have endeavored to delineate his character so that it will be as an open book. And, if I have succeeded in my task, the reader will by now have become aware that he was young man with the gall of an Army mule.   
She had only been out of the room minutes, and in that brief period a middle-aged lady of commanding aspect had apparently come up through a trap. It would have been enough to upset most girls, but Jane Hubbard bore it calmly. All through her vivid life her bedroom had been a sort of cosy corner for murderers, alligators, tarantulas, scorpions, and every variety of snake, so she accepted the middle-aged lady without comment.

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  1. I'm over from Saturday Review of Books. You picked some zinger quotes. They make me want to cancel my plans this rainy Saturday and have a Wodehouse reading festival.

    I especially liked that you highlighted titles unfamiliar to me. You have successfully whet my appetite. Thank you!

  2. Wow! You got in a lot of Wodehouse! These sound delightful.

  3. The Girl on the Boat was my personal favorite out of the titles I read! I particularly loved Smith!
    I was quite relieved to turn to Wodehouse this month since I recently read a particularly harsh "modern fiction" that left me feeling ill and dissatisfied with the literary world.



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