Thursday, March 6, 2014

What I Read Last Week

What I Read Last Week . . .

Irish Autumn by

The Adventures of SallyThe Adventures of Sally by P.G. Wodehouse -- Romantic Comedy

Sally Nicholas and her brother Fillmore have been on their own for three years struggling to make ends meet through dead-end jobs on Broadway. Now they have come of age and inherited the money their father left them. Everyone in their boarding house has opinions on how to spend the money. Fillmore intends to get richer quick through some investments while Sally intends to travel to Europe, move to an apartment and maybe open a dress shop. Then, when her fiance's play is a success, they'll finally marry. He's on the verge of greatness and unable to travel with Sally. While visiting the seaside in France, she overhears a conversation between two men. One is hard and unattractive. The other is red haired and looks like he has a temper, but seems kind. Sally is dying to know why the red haired man was fired from his job and is embarrassed and a bit pleased to hear the red haired man praise her beauty. He helps her out of a sticky situation and is mortified to discover she speaks English. Sally quickly takes "Ginger" Kemp under her wing and treats him as she does her brother, with a firm but gentle guiding hand. Ginger introduces her to his cousin, Bruce Carmyle, a wealthy lawyer. Sally thinks Mr. Carmyle is a bit rude and snobbish and wants nothing more to do with him. When she returns home, she discovers everything is in chaos and her fiance's grand plan is about to crumble. Her brother comes up with the perfect solution and Sally has faith that everything will turn out. Just when things are looking up, she has a setback. Then Europe follows Sally to America. To get away, she heads back to England where she still can't escape! Finally she runs back to New York where her problems multiply and she discovers something about herself and her problem she never knew before.

This is another great Wodehouse classic! The characters in this novel are fairly stereotypical. Sally is sooooo unselfish and forgiving and so beautiful every man falls in love with her. The men are basically types: there's the success-driven men; diva leading lady; earnest but bumbling men; moneyed English men and annoying, nosy landlady with yappy dog. It sounds like they would be boring but mixed into the plot, they're delicious. They make the story come alive and add to the screwball aspect of the plot. The one stand out who doesn't get a lot of page time is Gladys. Unlike Sally, she isn't beautiful or ambitious but she knows how to handle her man with skill and charm.

The plot starts off slow with too many characters thrown at the reader to make sense. Once Sally leaves New York for the first time, the plot picks up pace. I couldn't put it down. I HAD to know how things turned out with Sally and whether she found true love and with whom! I absolutely didn't know how it would turn out. I thought perhaps it might be an update of a beloved 19th century classic. I was with Sally through all the drama and romantic entanglements. It sounds melodramatic but it's not. Wodehouse had a light touch and knew exactly how to get a smile from his reader. The prose is witty, funny and sometimes even deserving of a chuckle. The only graphic content in this novel is a boxing scene that goes on too long and a depiction of how the loser looks afterwards. Since the book was written in 1922, there's a couple of very minor somewhat racist line or two and a possible antisemitic scene. The romance is squeaky clean.

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