Oh Wodehouse, how I love thee!
Even when I think I’m not in the mood for a Wodehouse, it turns out that I’m in the mood for a Wodehouse. Money in the Bank was next in the TBR stack, so even though I wasn’t 100% feeling it, I decided to pick it up anyway, and I was hooked by the bottom of page one, when I read –
You would have said [Mr. Shoesmith] was not in sympathy with Jeff, and you would have been right. Jeff had his little circle of admirers, but Mr. Shoesmith was not a member of it. About the nastiest jolt of the well-known solicitor’s experience had been the one he had received on the occasion, some weeks previously, when his only daughter had brought this young man home and laid him on the mat, announcing in her authoritative way that they were engaged to be married.
He had said, ‘Oh, my God!’ or something civil of that sort, but it was only with difficulty that he had been able to speak at all. He could see in Jeff little or nothing of a nature calculated to cause a father, receiving such news, to wave his hat in the air and dance about on the tips of his toes.
The fact that Wodehouse introduces the hero of the tale from the perspective of someone who thoroughly dislikes him just makes me so happy. And as the next few pages reveal that Mr. Shoesmith wasn’t the only one surprised to find out that Jeff was engaged to his daughter (Jeff, too, was startled by the announcement), those who read Wodehouse with some regularity will already see the lines falling into place.
In many ways, Wodehouse’s writing is incredibly formulaic. There is usually a good bloke, a sweet girl, a girl who is a bit of a tartar, and a fellow who is a bit of a weasel, and these people are all engaged to the wrong ones, but throughout the story, which will generally involve some fake names, absent-minded uncles, authoritative aunts, loyal butlers, and something that someone needs to steal from someone else, all relationships iron themselves out and we get happy endings all around.
Despite this, I cannot stop reading his works, and not just reading them – rereading them. They are an absolute joy. I’ve never read one of his books that didn’t make me laugh out loud on multiple occasions. (Honestly, I no longer read them in public since the time I almost choked at a local cafe.)
All in all, Money in the Bank did not disappoint, involving as it did my favorite American criminals – Mr. and Mrs. Molloy and their partner/enemy Chimp Twist. If you’ve never read Wodehouse, please do not delay. Pick up this one or any one, and then proceed to read them all. 5/5.
#13 for 20 Books of Summer!!