By P.G. Wodehouse
Jill the Reckless (UK title: The Little Warrior) is another of those Wodehouses you can read for yourself with little or no trouble: it’s free on Gutenberg.
- Author: P.G. Wodehouse
- Title: Jill the Reckless (The Little Warrior)
- Pages: N/A (e-text)
- Published: 1920
- Publisher: George H. Doran/Herbert Jenkins/Project Gutenberg
- ISBN: N/A
Jill the Reckless is one of those early Wodehouse novels, now out of copyright, that show the master groping for his definitive form. There is a precursor of Bertie Wooster here, in the form of Freddy. There is a stuffed shirt, Derek, with a political career and a fiancee: the heroine.
This heroine is a rich girl who has all her money gambled away at a stock exchange by her guardian uncle. When her Derek obeys his mother and severs their engagement, she decides to leave London for America. There she has to earn money, and she decides to take a job in the chorus.
Naturally all ends well: Freddy marries a chorus girl, Jill marries an author (who might well be to Wodehouse what Judge Dee was to van Gulik) and Derek goes home, defeated, deserted even by the loyal Freddy.
In a sense, this book is a sequel to the much more polished Damsel in Distress (includes e-text). Jill the Reckless suffers from peripatheticity a bit though, with one third of the book set in various places in London, a few chapters in locations in the United States and the remainder in New York.
Also distracting is the ending; yes, I am glad Freddie and Maudie decide to get married, but we don’t get to see their reunion, while we do get to see Freddie spreading happiness and largesse to her in London. Besides, it is not clear whether Maudie knows Freddie hasn’t lost all his money as she thinks when he joins her theatre troupe. Means they’re marrying on false terms, to my mind.
Furthermore, one can see Wodehouse groping towards the kind of girl he fills his later work with: straightforward, intelligent (always excepting the Bassett), decisive, brave women. Jill is all that, until the ending, when she all of a sudden turns into a bit of a droopy drip.