Sidenote: This review doesn’t actually review the book at all. I didn’t mention a single thing about the plot or the characters. Instead, it’s really just an excuse to talk about how amazing Wodehouse is, and to quote (at length) from the foreword of this tale!
Originally posted on tumblr February 7, 2012.
AKA: Something Fresh
I love P.G. Wodehouse. A British friend of Dad’s introduced us to Wodehouse several years ago, and I have been incredibly grateful ever since. I have no idea how my life was complete before the advent of Wodehouse into it.
He is brilliantly funny, managing to contrive plots that seem plausible and yet ridiculous at the same time. Everyone marries the right people at the end and, somehow, all of the ludicrous plot ends manage to come together perfectly.
While Wodehouse is most famous for his creation of the perfect duo, Bertie and Jeeves, my personal favorite gang is found at Blandings Castle. Something New, which was Wodehouse’s first full-length novel, and he claims, in the foreword he wrote some fifty-odd years later, that it was accepted by Saturday Evening Postfor serial publication based solely on the fact that Wodehouse sent it with all three of his names written out: Pelham Grenville Wodehouse:
A writer in America at that time who went about without three names was practically going around naked. Those were the days of Richard Harding Davis, of James Warner Bellah, of Margaret Culkin Banning, of Earl Derr Biggers, of CHarles Francis Coe, Norman Reilly Raine, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Clarence Budington Kelland and Orison Swett–yes, really, I’m not kidding–Marden. Naturally, a level-headed editor like Lorimer was not going to let a Pelham Grenville Wodhouse get away from him.
If you ask me to tell you frankly if I like the names Pelham Grenville, I must confess that I do not. I have my dark moods when they seem to me about as low as you can get. At the font, I remember protesting vigorously when the clergyman uttered them, but he stuck to his point. ‘Be that as it may,’ he said firmly, having waited for a lull, ‘I name thee Pelham Grenville.’
Apparently, I was called that after a godfather, and not a thing to show for it except a small silver mug which I lost in 1897. I little knew how the frightful label was going to pay off thirty-four years later. (One could do a bit of moralizing about that if one wanted to, but better not for the moment. Some other time, perhaps.)
I have perhaps over-quoted him (especially from a foreword!) but I cannot get over and subdue my enthusiasm for Wodehouse. If you have never read one of his books, grab the closet you can find, whether it be a tale of Psmith (the “p” is silent), Bertie and Jeeves, the Blandings Castle crew, or one of his many random tales of adventure. Wodehouse weaves a world of Britain that does not really exist, a sort of made-up time combining the best of several decades into the world that we all wished not only existed in the past, but was still thriving today.
Wodehouse is nearly always a 5, if only because he makes me laugh out loud when I am reading in public places.