Feb. 2nd, 2017

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P.G. Wodehouse "Something Fresh" (Arrow)

This is the book in which Wodehouse introduces his readers to the idyllic world of Blandings Castle where for the first time we meet the Earl of Emsworth, the Efficient Baxter and Beach the Butler. It is something of a sketchy start to the series however; Lord Emsworth is eccentric in a mild way and absent- minded enough to walk off with the priceless scarab belonging to Mr Peters, father of his son's fiancee. However that noble beast, the Empress of Blandings has yet to appear and Lady Constance has not made an appearance, leaving Baxter with no- one to play off and Clarence no- one to hide from as Lady Ann, Blandings hostess, is usually in her room nursing a sick headache.

The plot centres on the scarab with Peters hiring pulp writer Ashe Marson to retrieve it, while Joan Valentine, a friend of Mr Peters daughter Aline is also after it. Ashe and Joan live in the same boarding house in London and poverty makes the reward for returning the scarab to Peters very attractive. They are a rather uninteresting pair of romantic leads and the chief interest in the novel lies in Baxter's attempts to foil what he assumes to be the theft of the scarab. There is a very funny scene in which various parties swirl around each other late at night at the foot of the great staircase, while one waits with bated breath for the inevitable collisions to occur.

The book is a bit under powered as a whole, but improves as it goes along. A good read but not enough to entice me to read more of this series or any other Wodehouse book.


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