Summer Lightning

By P.G. Wodehouse

This is the third Blandings Novel, and a treat I’d saved myself for when I thought I’d really need it.

  • Author: P.G. Wodehouse
  • Publisher: Herbert Jenkins
  • Published: 1929
  • Pages: 318
  • Alternative title: Fish Preferred

I know I’m a strange kind of fish — there’s no use denying it. There are a few books I know I’m going to like that I only read small pieces from. A chapter here, a chapter there, saving the real treat for some other time. This is what I did with Summer Lightning. However, feeling rather miserable with one thing and another, I figured the time had come to allow myself a long draught of the Master’s tonic.

Which, in itself, means that by know you know what I think of this book. It is, as Plum acknowledges in the preface, the familiar old story with the all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names.

But how does the book stack up qua book, instead of as a warm bath?

Pretty well, actually. Even if there’s no doubt about the eventual rejoining of the various sundered hearts, there’s a lot of genuine suspense — will the infernal Baxter manage to insinuate himself in Blandings Castle again, will we hear the story of Gregory Parsloe and the prawns, and, finally when lover B engages lover D, will A and C reciprocate? It is a testimony to Wodehouse’s talent that one never loses track of the developments, because they are as complex as in any C18 French comedy.

No words of mine, a mere L2 speaker of the language can do justice to Wodehouse’s polished English. Suffice it to say that I have seriously thought of dedicating my own book (GUI Application programming with Python to Wodehouse, because he has taught me real English. (That’s not to disparage the efforts of my high school teachers, but they, too, will know what I mean.)

Shall I give an outline of the story? Or will you rush out to your nearest second-hand bookshop and secure yourself a copy? Or perhaps splash out on a new printing (but take care and don’t buy those horrible Penguin pockets that are printed with ragged right edges, the ultimate insult).

Right, a short summary, then. Ronnie Fish, son of Julia Fish, is engaged to the chorus girl Sue Brown, daughter of Dolly Henderson, erstwhile fiancee of Galahad Threepwood, the brother of Lord Emsworth. Meanwhile, Hugo Carmody is engaged to Millicent Threepwood.

Needless to say, Sue is unsuitable for Ronnie because she’s a chorus girl, even if her father was captain of the guards, and Hugo is equally ineligible because he hasn’t got a bean.

And Galahad Threepwood is writing a book about the daring exploits of the English gentry in the 1890’s. The same English gentry thirty years later is not amused by the prospect.

Oh, and Emsworth is potty about his pig.

Buy this book and visit The Junior Ganymedes for the Wodehouse FAQ and other goodies. Do yourself the favour.

Nothing Serious

By P.G. Wodehouse

It’s getting harder and harder to add a new book to my Wodehouse collection — I must have about seventy of his novels and story collections by now. Still, sometimes one gets lucky, and happen upon a new one. Nothing Serious, in this case, and even if most of the stories are golf stories (not my favourite), there’s a Lord Emsworth in it that’s a genuine gem.

  • Author: P.G. Wodehouse
  • Publisher: Herbert Jenkins
  • Published: No date, but first edition, so 1950
  • Place: London & Glasgow
  • Pages: 254

This volume contains the following stories:
The Shadow Passes, Bramley is So Bracing, Up from the Depths, Feet of Clay, Excelsior, Rodney has a Relapse, Tangled Hearts, Birth of a Salesman, How’s that Umpire and Success Story.

Birth of a Salesman is the Lord Emsworth story. The earl is visiting his son Freddy in the United States when a girl rings the front door bell, and he opens it, Freddy being out for business. The girl tries to sell Lord Emsworth a richly bound encyclopedia of Sport, but fails. The reason she’s out toting books nobody in his right mind would want to touch with a twenty-feet bargepole is that she’s pregnant, and needs to inject some extra cash into the household, her husband being a lowly-paid car mechanic.

The chivalrous Lord Emsworth offers her his second son’s sofa, and sets out to sell the beastly books for her. And, against all reason or expectations, succeeds.

The other stories are all about various golf clubs and devoted golfers, and are very nice, especially Feet of Clay, where Rodney Spelvin and Agnes Flack are reunited after having been sundered by a lounge lizard and a sex authoress.

Anyway, it’s always hard to come to any kind of conclusion about a collection of stories, and even harder to say something sensible about a Wodehouse. If only to keep up my appreciation of English, I read a Wodehouse a month… And they’re all good clean fun, too.