The White Feather // by P.G. Wodehouse


//published 1907//

The White Feather is probably my favorite of Wodehouse’s school stories so far.  Set at Wrykyn, one of Wodehouse’s favorite fictional schools, the introduction (from the author) states that it is set a little over a year after the events in The Gold Bat.  I didn’t notice much of an overlap of characters, but the setting is the same.  In that same introduction Wodehouse states that other Wrykyn adventures have been recorded in various short stories published in various magazines.  I’m pretty sure that Mike – which leads into the Psmith stories – is also set at Wrykyn.

At any rate, in typical school story fashion, this story has plenty of sports and slang.  But there is also a decent little story, wherein one boy, Sheen, is a quiet, studious boy towards whom his classmates are rather ambivalent.  There is a feud of sorts between the school boys and the town boys, and one day there is a big kerfluffle between them.  Sheen, instead of jumping in to the aid of his fellow students, quietly disappears.  This leads to him being ostracized by his entire house, and many of the rest of the students as well.  Sheen ends up taking up boxing lessons and, in the end, pulls out a wonderful victory at an inter-school sporting event and is accepted back into the arms of his house, especially when it comes about that much of the negative information surrounding Sheen was actually based on false stories circulated by a boy who didn’t like him.

The fun in this book isn’t necessarily in the story, which is fine but not thrilling, but in the very fact that I actually was able to keep most of these characters straight – which means that they were different enough from one another in order for me to do so, something that isn’t always true in these early school stories.  There were more little quirks and pieces of individuality, like the boxing coach who loves (and quotes) Shakespeare.

On the whole, I didn’t find myself racing through The White Feather or laughing out loud while reading it, but it did have its moments of humor, and there was a definite plot above and beyond sports to carry the story through.  While I don’t see myself returning to this one time and again, it was a pleasant read, although not heartily recommended.  3/5.