Something Fresh by P. G. Wodehouse

Something-Fresh6a00d83451bcff69e2011572171b38970b-300wi1188711“Right ho! What a jolly read!  It is a plot-laden novel, but light-hearted, funny and entertaining; moreover, its ending leaves you with a warm-fuzzy feeling.” – Such tedious talking isn’t it? For all the Wodehouse fans here, surely you have all come across such comments on links, but right now I just can’t think of anything more suitable and cleverer to bolster this post. I have been lazy this week, and my brain is jammed all over. But seriously I am really into this novel.

I read Something Fresh as a one of the stories in an omnibus called The World of Blandings.  Before that I have read Summer Lightning as my first try on Blandings Castle novels, and found it just as amusing as first reading Jeeves and Wooster. I started to transform myself into a bait on  Wodehouse’s writing, and I also prodded myself into reasoning why I love his formula so much. All his characters, no matter great and small, have a common trait, that is often being lunatic and paranoid in their situations that they often end up contriving plans that they think wise and sophisticated; however all their plots would just cram into places where they don’t fit. It happens in the case of Invaluable Efficient Baxter – “a chappie can’t take a step in this bally house without stumbling over that damn feller Baxter”- being all there in the business and often plunges into action; he always crashes and fails. I just could not wait reading Leave it to Psmith and see how he leaves himself a blot by “committing a vile flower-pot crime” against Lord Emsworth!

Apart from the misfortune of Efficient Baxter, I also love how the younger and  aristocratic generations are always considered as eyesores to the elders. The  Hon. Frederick Threepwood is one of my favourite Nature’s prune in this novel. He, rather than competing against George Emerson for the rapture of Aline Peters, slips over the stairs for the cat and ends up staying in bed reading Gridley Quayle in afternoons. Even the elopement does happen, he just searches for something adequate to say to the deputation to suppress his dream state of mind, just like his father. What I like about the prestigious aristocrats are that they all are not in the prospect of  the promise of marriage and wandering about like mad hatters!

As much as the omnipresent playful prunes and plots, I also like the deception bits that prevails throughout the story. Ashe Marson, the writer of the detective stories of Gridley Quayle, is one of the interesting characters in the novel. At the opening chapters we see him doing the Swedish Exercise that arouses all laugh and finger-pointing attitude of other spectators in the hotel in Leicester Square. But who can guess that he would get embroiled in a maelstrom in disguising himself  as the valet of the dyspepsia Mr. Peters, and carry out the task of recovering a sought-after Scarab with Joan Valentine who, on the other hand, camouflages as the maid of Aline Peters as Miss Simpson.

Moreover, I have gained more knowledge of the aristocratic household, for example, in where the servants and staff located at dinner, whether of the Steward’s Room or the Servants’ Hall; when the breaking down the social barriers could take place (occurs 2 times, one in abusing Baxter and the elopement case);  the  servants’ honourable disagreement with another feller on “getting Above Himself”, and also the method in addressing one another,

“Ashe noted as curious fact that while the actual valet of any person under discussion spoke of him almost affectionately by his Christian name, the rest o the company used the greatest ceremony and gave him the title with all respect.”

The ending of this story, so philosophical, just to examine the circle of life bumping and going of the gong you met in life. Such are the aberrations and the funny narration of human nature I love in the stories of Blandings Castle. I can’t wait to read other shorter stories in The World of Blandings!

Summer Lightning by P. G. Wodehouse

summer-lightningIt is my first try on Blandings Castle Series; however I didn’t get into the first one, Something Fresh; instead I got myself this one – Summer Lightning. This is out of my expectations! I shouldn’t be saying that because I know all works by Sir P. G. Wodehouse are all gems, but this one just totally blows me off!

Summer Lightning, as we could all imagine, starts with a peaceful, picturesque atmosphere setting in a castle located in Shropshire. Everything seems calm but soon the characters emerge one by one – Beach the Butler, Clarence Threepwood (9th Earl of Emsworth, the first Emsworth who has ever won a pig pageant silver prize in a row), Hugo Carmody (the secretary whom Lord Emsworth so approves of), Aunt Constance (yet again another formidable aunt), Baxter (former secretary of Lord Emsworth whom Aunt Constance so approves of), and Sir Galahad Threepwood (brothers to the Threepwoods, the only one I consider to be the only normal entity in this book), etc. – with those unsound people residing in the castle and some other charming heroines and romances that aren’t favoured by the relatives, you could expect some lunatics will be going to contrive some “clever” plots and turning out to be consecutive predicaments and unbearable farce! And this time, two romantics pairs are trying to take advantage of the pig, the Empress of Blandings, in order to let their wedding bells ring!

There are so many parts of the story which set me in laughing fart, and the one which I appreciate the most is the series of unfortunate events of Baxter. Lord Emsworth, the rambling aristocrat and proprietor of Blandings who regards Baxter “as mad as a coot”, always has to bear and conquer his former secretary and ending up in frightening and unpredictable look because every time Baxter would conjure himself up of nowhere and evidence of himself madness! First time Lord Emsworth suspects himself of seeing an apparition of Baxter, second time thinks of him of committing suicide, then he carries an ivory stick to avoid being attacked in a rampage, and finally pointing at him with a gun! The Misunderstandings and disputes and confrontation of the two that Wodehouse portrays in his works are classic trademark trigger of laugh and chuckle.

None of its three members seemed really in the mood for a ramble through the woods. Beach, though face of a good man misjudged. Baxter was eyeing the sullen sky as though he suspected it of something. As for Lord Emsworth, though dark and deserted ways one who, though one this afternoon’s evidence the trend of his tastes seemed to be towards suicide, might quite possibly become homicidal.

Apart from that, the Butler Beach of Blandings Castle is of course not to be overlooked! The rivalry and dialogues between Beach and Baxter is clever plot. It is like a hilarious version of Wilkie Collins’s dual rivals. Moreover, I enjoy the point that everyone is really trying to be clever in deducing the conspirator behind this surreptitious act (Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe? Hugo Carmody? Beach?), and whereabouts the Empress is. The plot is seamless and superbly funny in Wodehouse’s narration and description in his story-telling.

After I finish the book and flip back the pages of the preface, I find that Wodehouse actually mentions Thackeray’s Vanity Fair concerning the naming of the Title and the “puppets” in his book! Amazing! Great read!