Monday, September 10, 2007

P. G. Wodehouse: Leave It To Psmith

Whenever I'm in the mood to get lost in some light, rainy day reading that will guarantee a good chuckle, I invariably ask Kevin the same longing question:

Don't you have any more Wodehouse?

A couple years ago, a friend gave Kevin a small stash of novels by the British humorist P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975), and we've been hooked ever since.

A Wodehouse novel is nearly always guaranteed to deliver at least three of my four favorite comedic elements:
  1. Mistaken Identities
  2. Stowaways
  3. Hair-brained schemes
  4. High physical comedy (soot in the face)
Wodehouse is a genius at these four elements, and luckily for me this weekend, Kevin had picked up a Wodehouse novel at a used bookstore recently. Leave It To Psmith did not disappoint. Let me see...there were at least four characters with mistaken identities, an absolutely hair-brained scheme to steal Aunt Constance's diamond necklace so that her husband could buy her a new one and sell the old so he could have some spending money of his own (and of course far too many people get involved for it to ever go smoothly), and yes, lots of soot in the face and throwing of flowerpots. There wasn't a stowaway in the traditional sense, but the main character, Psmith, arrives at Blandings Castle under such false pretenses that if we stretch the term a little, this book gets a perfect four.

Happily for me, P.G. Wodehouse was incredibly prolific and wrote something like 90 novels and collections of short stories. So by the time I work my way through the complete library, I will have forgotten the ones I started with and can begin fresh!

There are actually a few P.G. Wodehouse novels and short stories available to read online at The Free Library and Classic Reader (none of which I have read yet!) I simply can't read this stuff online, though. Somehow the charm of bumbling aristocrats, witty banter, and the lush gardens of Blandings Castle gets lost when I'm staring at a computer screen. I might try printing one out (but by that time, I may have spent enough on toner to just go out and buy the book).

For more information about Wodehouse (and there's a lot out there):
The Wallingford Library Blog
P.G. Wodehouse Books
Wodehouse.org

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