I do not regret having read all of the Wodehouse books written before this one, but I have to express my delight at finally starting to get to the books that made Wodehouse’s reputation. This particular one isn’t tied to any of his serieses, but shares a lot with both the Blandings castle and Bertie & Jeeves books. First off, there’s Lord Dawlish, the sort of chap who is just a little too nice for his own good, the kind who always gets nipped by one and all for a fiver here or a ten-spot there. Then there’s his fiancee, who’s obsessed on the money deal; an eccentric wealthy old man; a couple of Americans; and a nightclub-singing Lady (as in Lord and Lady). There’s money, and the lack of it, that seems to be a separate character content to flirt with all the rest of the cast. A little plot line regarding golf, keeping bees, transatlantic trips, people who may or may not be who they are, a will that may or may not be the operative one, people mistaken for themselves and others, and true love. My god, the formula is so easy, yet as any one knows who has tried a hand at this stuff, just because you’ve got the recipe, it doesn’t mean your souffle rises in the same way.
This is a good one to recommend to people who have never read Wodehouse before, because it is compact and self-contained. It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine–if so, then Wodehouse is a wonder drug.
[Finished 29 January 1995]