Saturday, April 5, 2014

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week  Part II . . .

Summer Lightning (Blandings Castle, #4)Summer Lightning by P.G. Wodehouse -- Historical Romantic Comedy

Ronnie Fish wants to marry a beautiful chorus girl named Sue Brown, but he knows the family won't approve. He needs money from his trustee, Lord Emsworth, in order to marry Sue. All Lord Emsworth is concerned with is his prize pig, The Empress of Blandings. Ronnie gets the bright idea to steal the Empress and hide her away then find her. His uncle will be so grateful, he will give Ronnie a reward. Ronnie's friend Hugo Carmody wants to marry his cousin Millicent but the family wants Millicent to marry Ronnie. When the Empress disappears, Lord Emsworth dispatches a telegram to Pilbeam, a tabloid writer turned private detective. Hugo heads to London to consult with Pilbeam in person and meets with reject but accidentally sets in motion a chain of events that will have far reaching repercussions. Also involved in the tangle is Lord Emsworth's brother, Gallahad, an old reprobate who shocks everyone by announcing his intentions of publishing his memoirs. Gally's memoirs will dredge up old scandals that respectable people, like Emsworth's neighbor, Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, would rather forget. Lord Emsworth's sister, Lady Constance, engages her brother's former secretary Baxter to steal the manuscript for her. Lord Emsworth is convinced "young Parsloe," his rival in the prize pig market, has stolen The Empress and he's determined to get his beloved pig back. Of course nothing is easy, not even true love.

This story takes awhile to get started. I didn't get into it until the middle of the story when all the characters are at Blandings. Three quarters of the way through it gets really really funny and I laughed out loud. The romances didn't turn out the way I had expected them to but by the time they were resolved I was rooting for the couples to be happy.I enjoyed it once it got started. The writing was very nice in parts and in other parts hysterically funny.

My favorite characters are Lord Emsworth and Baxter. I love the interactions between the two of them. Lord Emsworth is such a fool and Baxter is a good foil for him. Emsworth manages to make Baxter appear the fool instead and everything goes crazy whenever Baxter is around. I also liked Emsworth's dedication to his pig. Uncle Gally is another great character. His reminisces get a little long winded and boring after awhile. I find it hard to believe that he would have such a great memory, but he sure is funny. Beach isn't so funny in this book but he does provide some amusing moments. He seems like a stereotypical butler but he owes his allegiance to himself and his mother though he does value his position. He makes a stupid decision in the beginning that I didn't think was a good one and it caused him a lot of trouble. His numerous health issues seem to have disappeared miraculously.

His young nephews are not very likeable characters. I liked Hugh better than Ronnie. Hugh is sort of a Georgette Heyer beta hero like Freddy in Georgette Heyer's Cotillion. He's likeable because he's clueless. However, I didn't like that he was eager to accept a scheme that wasn't very honorable in order to get his uncle to come around. Ronnie is not very likeable. His jealous tantrum really turned me off. He went way overboard in losing his temper and if he really loved Sue, he wouldn't have done that.

The female love interests are slightly better. I liked Sue best because she is nice and seems smart. She's too nice for Ronnie and too smart for Hugo. She deserves better. She almost always keeps her calm. I like that she took initiative to get what she wanted in the beginning but I didn't like the way she did it. I didn't like Millicent. She got very silly and annoying quickly. I didn't feel sorry for her at all. I found her constant weeping tiresome.

Lady Constance and Pilbeam round out the main secondary characters. Lady Constance is a stereotypical Grande Dame who wants things done a certain way and will do anything to protect the family reputation and name. She's meddling and rude. She doesn't have a large role in this book and certainly can't compare to Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess of Grantham and if anyone could write a character like that, it was P.G. Wodehouse. Pilbeam is a nasty fellow and I didn't like him one bit. His story fell really flat at the end. I was hoping for more because he deserved his plot to be tied up nicely.

Downton Abbey fans will probably like this book because of the country house setting and some similar plots and character types.

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