Category: P.G. Wodehouse

book of books – Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best


Apart from the television series of a few years ago starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie playing Jeeves and Wooster respectively there has not been an opportunity to read any P. G. Wodehouse.

There are certain stereotypes about his work and most do ring true: the stories are funny, about aristocrats and tend to be built around a formula of constantly getting in and out of scrapes. This collection of short stories is based around one central character, Lord Emsworth, who is the owner of Blandings Castle. Surrounded by sisters, a brother and various nieces and nephews he is also plagued by a son, Freddie, who he can’t wait to get off his hands.

Plot summary
All Lord Emsworth wants is a quiet life but that is constantly threatened by his son Freddie, staff threatening to resign and his sisters asking him to get involved with his nieces love lives. Throughout the brainless Emsworth manages to get a conclusion he desires usually through a combination of luck and chance, rather than by some great design of his own making. But he proves himself to be a man with a heart as well as a man driven by a selfish wish for solitude.

Is it well written?
In parts it reminds you of those farces that have people coming in one door just as someone goes out of another but what makes it rise above that is the way Wodehouse changes the formula just as it starts to get predictable. You have to see these stories for what they are – light hearted fun – there is not something conspiratorial going on here to expose the landed gentry. Taken on that basis this works well. The only thing about a short story collection is that the characters here never get the depth another writer would have given them so Freddie remains the dog biscuit selling son and Lord Emsworth is a peace hunting brainless fool right through from start to end.

Should it be read?
If you are looking for either a light read or a window onto a lost world of British manners and behaviour then this is perfect. Most people will head straight for the Jeeves and Wooster books but this collection has the advantage of feeling that it is one piece, with the stories interlinking and following on from each other. For someone who has not read the Jeeves and Wooster books this presumably gives a taster and that seems like a logical destination next.

Summary
In his search for peace and quiet Lord Emsworth scrapes through and manages to fend off problems in the form of his family, pig men and pumpkin growers

Version read – Penguin Classics paperback

book of books – Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best


Apart from the television series of a few years ago starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie playing Jeeves and Wooster respectively there has not been an opportunity to read any P. G. Wodehouse.

There are certain stereotypes about his work and most do ring true: the stories are funny, about aristocrats and tend to be built around a formula of constantly getting in and out of scrapes. This collection of short stories is based around one central character, Lord Emsworth, who is the owner of Blandings Castle. Surrounded by sisters, a brother and various nieces and nephews he is also plagued by a son, Freddie, who he can’t wait to get off his hands.

Plot summary
All Lord Emsworth wants is a quiet life but that is constantly threatened by his son Freddie, staff threatening to resign and his sisters asking him to get involved with his nieces love lives. Throughout the brainless Emsworth manages to get a conclusion he desires usually through a combination of luck and chance, rather than by some great design of his own making. But he proves himself to be a man with a heart as well as a man driven by a selfish wish for solitude.

Is it well written?
In parts it reminds you of those farces that have people coming in one door just as someone goes out of another but what makes it rise above that is the way Wodehouse changes the formula just as it starts to get predictable. You have to see these stories for what they are – light hearted fun – there is not something conspiratorial going on here to expose the landed gentry. Taken on that basis this works well. The only thing about a short story collection is that the characters here never get the depth another writer would have given them so Freddie remains the dog biscuit selling son and Lord Emsworth is a peace hunting brainless fool right through from start to end.

Should it be read?
If you are looking for either a light read or a window onto a lost world of British manners and behaviour then this is perfect. Most people will head straight for the Jeeves and Wooster books but this collection has the advantage of feeling that it is one piece, with the stories interlinking and following on from each other. For someone who has not read the Jeeves and Wooster books this presumably gives a taster and that seems like a logical destination next.

Summary
In his search for peace and quiet Lord Emsworth scrapes through and manages to fend off problems in the form of his family, pig men and pumpkin growers

Version read – Penguin Classics paperback

book of books – Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best


Apart from the television series of a few years ago starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie playing Jeeves and Wooster respectively there has not been an opportunity to read any P. G. Wodehouse.

There are certain stereotypes about his work and most do ring true: the stories are funny, about aristocrats and tend to be built around a formula of constantly getting in and out of scrapes. This collection of short stories is based around one central character, Lord Emsworth, who is the owner of Blandings Castle. Surrounded by sisters, a brother and various nieces and nephews he is also plagued by a son, Freddie, who he can’t wait to get off his hands.

Plot summary
All Lord Emsworth wants is a quiet life but that is constantly threatened by his son Freddie, staff threatening to resign and his sisters asking him to get involved with his nieces love lives. Throughout the brainless Emsworth manages to get a conclusion he desires usually through a combination of luck and chance, rather than by some great design of his own making. But he proves himself to be a man with a heart as well as a man driven by a selfish wish for solitude.

Is it well written?
In parts it reminds you of those farces that have people coming in one door just as someone goes out of another but what makes it rise above that is the way Wodehouse changes the formula just as it starts to get predictable. You have to see these stories for what they are – light hearted fun – there is not something conspiratorial going on here to expose the landed gentry. Taken on that basis this works well. The only thing about a short story collection is that the characters here never get the depth another writer would have given them so Freddie remains the dog biscuit selling son and Lord Emsworth is a peace hunting brainless fool right through from start to end.

Should it be read?
If you are looking for either a light read or a window onto a lost world of British manners and behaviour then this is perfect. Most people will head straight for the Jeeves and Wooster books but this collection has the advantage of feeling that it is one piece, with the stories interlinking and following on from each other. For someone who has not read the Jeeves and Wooster books this presumably gives a taster and that seems like a logical destination next.

Summary
In his search for peace and quiet Lord Emsworth scrapes through and manages to fend off problems in the form of his family, pig men and pumpkin growers

Version read – Penguin Classics paperback

Lunchtime read: Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best

This volume of short stories comes to and end and until I win the lottery this is the closest it is to come to knowing how it feels to be a landed aristocrat. Throughout the book it gives you a warm feeling and there are moments that are laugh out loud funny but most off the time this is a gentle humour.

The Crime Wave at Blandings
Centring on an airgun various members of the family use it to shoot each other and repeatedly at a former secretary to Lord Emsworth a man by the name of Baxter. The balance shifts several times with Emsworth under attack from his sister and then Baxter until in the end he ends up in a position where he can get his own way and rise above the criticism from his sister and restore peace at Blandings Castle.

Birth of a Salesman
With the location shifted to America Lord Emsworth is finding himself overshadowed by his son Freddie, who is doing well selling dog biscuits. So when the chance comes to help out a pregnant encyclopaedia sales woman he leaps at it. His target believes him to be a private investigator sent by his wife and so agrees to buy $500 worth to get Emsworth off his back.

Sticky Wicket at Blandings
With beach the butler under threat and Freddie facing a divorce for giving his wife’s dog away all is resolved by the butler who comes out as the saviour of the family reputation making it quite impossible for him to be sacked. Emsworth as usual cannot follow simple instructions and almost gets in trouble for being a prowler and is locked in a neighbours coal cellar. That is until Beach comes and drugs his fellow butler with a sedative and releases his master.

A full review will follow tomorrow…

Lunchtime read: Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best

This volume of short stories comes to and end and until I win the lottery this is the closest it is to come to knowing how it feels to be a landed aristocrat. Throughout the book it gives you a warm feeling and there are moments that are laugh out loud funny but most off the time this is a gentle humour.

The Crime Wave at Blandings
Centring on an airgun various members of the family use it to shoot each other and repeatedly at a former secretary to Lord Emsworth a man by the name of Baxter. The balance shifts several times with Emsworth under attack from his sister and then Baxter until in the end he ends up in a position where he can get his own way and rise above the criticism from his sister and restore peace at Blandings Castle.

Birth of a Salesman
With the location shifted to America Lord Emsworth is finding himself overshadowed by his son Freddie, who is doing well selling dog biscuits. So when the chance comes to help out a pregnant encyclopaedia sales woman he leaps at it. His target believes him to be a private investigator sent by his wife and so agrees to buy $500 worth to get Emsworth off his back.

Sticky Wicket at Blandings
With beach the butler under threat and Freddie facing a divorce for giving his wife’s dog away all is resolved by the butler who comes out as the saviour of the family reputation making it quite impossible for him to be sacked. Emsworth as usual cannot follow simple instructions and almost gets in trouble for being a prowler and is locked in a neighbours coal cellar. That is until Beach comes and drugs his fellow butler with a sedative and releases his master.

A full review will follow tomorrow…

Lunchtime read: Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best

The Wodehouse style grows on you and before you know it you are quite happy in a world where all that matters are if the flowers have been picked, if pigs eat their food and pumpkins win first prize.

But there is also something clever going on here in that having established a pattern where you expect the story to develop in a certain way he changes it. So in this story you expect the final confrontation between head-gardener and Lord Emsworth to conclude with the latter giving in over the gravel path the gardener wants. If he did that it would follow the pattern set of establishing twin problems that are solved at the same time. That fact he doesn’t follow that path means you are left wondering where Wodehouse will go next.

Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend
With the annual August bank holiday fete about to take place Blandings Castle is about to be invaded by villagers and some children from London. On his way to the village to judge the best garden competition Lord Emsworth comes across a young girl who has upset his gardener by stealing flowers and then her brother upsets Emsworth’s sister by biting her on the ankle. Finding that the girl has been told off at the fete for taking food for her brother Lord Emsworth takes her into the castle feeds her up and then lets her pick some flowers. The gardener runs out to be confronted by a self assured Emsworth, with the girl behind him, who put his foot down and reasserts his position as lord and master.

More tomorrow…

Lunchtime read: Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best

The Wodehouse style grows on you and before you know it you are quite happy in a world where all that matters are if the flowers have been picked, if pigs eat their food and pumpkins win first prize.

But there is also something clever going on here in that having established a pattern where you expect the story to develop in a certain way he changes it. So in this story you expect the final confrontation between head-gardener and Lord Emsworth to conclude with the latter giving in over the gravel path the gardener wants. If he did that it would follow the pattern set of establishing twin problems that are solved at the same time. That fact he doesn’t follow that path means you are left wondering where Wodehouse will go next.

Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend
With the annual August bank holiday fete about to take place Blandings Castle is about to be invaded by villagers and some children from London. On his way to the village to judge the best garden competition Lord Emsworth comes across a young girl who has upset his gardener by stealing flowers and then her brother upsets Emsworth’s sister by biting her on the ankle. Finding that the girl has been told off at the fete for taking food for her brother Lord Emsworth takes her into the castle feeds her up and then lets her pick some flowers. The gardener runs out to be confronted by a self assured Emsworth, with the girl behind him, who put his foot down and reasserts his position as lord and master.

More tomorrow…

Lunchtime read: Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best

The funny going-on’s that centre on Lord Emsworth continue with the Earl concentrating all of his limited mental facilities on subjects such as pigs and peace and quiet rather than the tasks his sisters ask him to deal with,. Floating throughout all of it is Freddie who is both a catalyst for problems and a source of most of them.

Pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey!
Facing the agriculture show and a pig-man who is out of action following an altercation with the police and a pig that will not eat Lord Emsworth is beside himself. Meanwhile his sister asks him to try and put and end to her daughters relationship with someone she hopes she won’t get engaged to. But the young man in question turns out to know a great deal of pigs and after helping to get the pig eating again is rewarded with the hand of the one he loves

Company for Gertrude
A similar issue with a vicar being seen as not suitable for the other sister’s daughter Gertrude. Freddie convinces his friend that he should get down the Blandings Castle and ingratiate himself with his farther who could give him a nice living in one of the churches he has responsibility for as Earl. The young man goes so far and become such a nuisance that when Freddie comes clean and tells him the real story Lord Emsworth is only too happy to shunt him off to a church that touches on his neighbours estate, someone who he can’t stand either.

The Go-Getter
Having focused his efforts on getting his dog loving Aunt to start ordering the dog biscuits his father-in-law makes Freddie is discouraged to find his aunt preoccupied with other matters. Those matters namely being the fact that after accepting the engagement with the vicar her daughter now seems to be about to go off with a singer. Freddie oddly comes to the rescue by trying to show that a dog fed on his dog biscuits is a strong healthy dog and in the ensuing dog fight the vicar shows up and demonstrates his manliness to Gertrude while the opera singer hides on a bookshelf. As a reward the Aunt order two tons of the biscuits.

More tomorrow…

Lunchtime read: Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best

The funny going-on’s that centre on Lord Emsworth continue with the Earl concentrating all of his limited mental facilities on subjects such as pigs and peace and quiet rather than the tasks his sisters ask him to deal with,. Floating throughout all of it is Freddie who is both a catalyst for problems and a source of most of them.

Pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey!
Facing the agriculture show and a pig-man who is out of action following an altercation with the police and a pig that will not eat Lord Emsworth is beside himself. Meanwhile his sister asks him to try and put and end to her daughters relationship with someone she hopes she won’t get engaged to. But the young man in question turns out to know a great deal of pigs and after helping to get the pig eating again is rewarded with the hand of the one he loves

Company for Gertrude
A similar issue with a vicar being seen as not suitable for the other sister’s daughter Gertrude. Freddie convinces his friend that he should get down the Blandings Castle and ingratiate himself with his farther who could give him a nice living in one of the churches he has responsibility for as Earl. The young man goes so far and become such a nuisance that when Freddie comes clean and tells him the real story Lord Emsworth is only too happy to shunt him off to a church that touches on his neighbours estate, someone who he can’t stand either.

The Go-Getter
Having focused his efforts on getting his dog loving Aunt to start ordering the dog biscuits his father-in-law makes Freddie is discouraged to find his aunt preoccupied with other matters. Those matters namely being the fact that after accepting the engagement with the vicar her daughter now seems to be about to go off with a singer. Freddie oddly comes to the rescue by trying to show that a dog fed on his dog biscuits is a strong healthy dog and in the ensuing dog fight the vicar shows up and demonstrates his manliness to Gertrude while the opera singer hides on a bookshelf. As a reward the Aunt order two tons of the biscuits.

More tomorrow…

Lunchtime read: Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best

Although it is a struggle to get to emotionally involved with what is happening with Lord Emsworth and his son Freddie what you start to appreciate is how Wodehouse constructs a story that comes from different starting points and converges in an amusing climax.

The humour is gentle and capable of bringing a wry smile to your face rather than leaving you in stitches on the floor.

Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best
The story starts with the butler threatening to resign unless his Lordship shaves off his beard because of the ridicule it is courting. Meanwhile Freddie turns up and explains to his father that he wants him to plead on his behalf to his daughter-in-law to take his son back. There is an inevitable moment of confusion in the hotel when Emsworth turns up and is attacked by a dog and then a rude friend of the woman he is seeking to talk to. Then all of a sudden Freddie turns up dressed to look like his father. The shock of seeing himself caricatured with a beard makes him wander downstairs to the hotel barber and get it shaved off. As a result the butler doesn’t resign and equilibrium is restored.

More tomorrow…