Saturday, April 5, 2014

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

Heavy WeatherHeavy Weather by P.G. Wodehouse -- Historical Romantic Comedy

This story takes place immediately after the events of Summer Lightning. The plot is very similar. Monty Bodkin, nephew of Sir Gregory Parsloe is in need of a job. He briefly held a job as assistant editor of a children's magazine, but was fired for trying to spice it up a bit. Though he's wealthy, he wants to marry a middle class heiress and her father won't approve until Monty holds down a job for a year. Ronnie still wants to marry Sue Brown and Sue loves him with all her heart, but when she learns that her former fiance, Monty Bodkin is coming to Blandings as Lord Emsworth's secretary, she panics. She thinks if Ronnie knows about the former engagement, he will become insanely jealous and break Sue's heart. While Ronnie is away, Sue heads up to London to explain to Monty. Unbeknown to the former love birds, they're spotted by Lady Julia Fish, who then heads to Blandings to pour doubts and poison in Ronnie's ear. A jealous Ronnie breaks up with Sue, who is dreadfully unhappy. Meanwhile Pilbeam is still lurking trying to steal Gallahad's manuscript. Monty's former boss, Lord Tilbury also arrives searching for the manuscript. He has a signed contract and has given Gallahad an advance already so the book MUST be published. Lady Julia and Lady Constance are at odds over what to do. Lady Julia could care less about the book and Lady Constance wants it destroyed. All Lord Emsworth cares about is his pig. He's convinced young Bodkin (Sir Gregory's nephew) has come to steal the Empress, when actually Monty is after the manuscript, for if he finds it, he can get his job back. Monty fears that with all the would-be-thieves, his manuscript isn't safe so he passes it along to Beach. Beach worries that he will be forced to hand it over in the name of duty. Before you know it, the manuscript gets hidden, passed around, and hidden again in the most unlikely location. What happens to the manuscript is a complete and total surprise and something so wacky, only P.G. Wodehouse could have written it.

This story is pure comic genius. Though the plot is mostly the same as the previous book, it amps the comedy up a LOT. Right away I was interested in the whereabouts of the manuscript, who had it and where it would end up. The plot is very much like "Who's on first?" in the zany manner in which it plays out. I giggled a lot in the last few chapters. The writing is top notch. I love the slang words they used at the time "potty" for crazy and "poop" which is essentially the same as the more vulgar word used today. I really enjoyed the final outcome of the plot which had me in stitches.

I just love dear, sweet Lord Emsworth. He's so absent-minded/one track mind that he's endearing. I feel so bad for him having so many domineering sisters telling him what to do and what to think. I also love Gally though his constant reminiscing could be annoying if one is a character in the novel and forced to listen to him. He's very sweet and kind to Sue and is her only ally in the family. I really like Sue. She's so kind, good-natured and uncomplicated. I have no idea why she loves Ronnie. She should find someone better. I also liked Monty. He isn't very bright, like Freddie, but he's kind and happy. He tries his best even though his best is really bad. He just wants to get married to the girl he loves. I feel sorry for the long-suffering Beach. He's torn between duty and desire. He feels loyalty to the family, but the family is divided, and his personal loyalties lie with a certain faction but his profession demands his loyalty to everyone. His health problems return thanks to all the stress. He's also amusing though unintentionally on his part. His thoughts and acts are part of the comic plot. The best character in the whole novel though, is The Empress of Blandings. Yes, she's a pig, and no, she's not a special pig, just a rather large one, but she made me laugh and laugh.

Ronnie is still not a likeable guy. His insecurities and jealously make him tiresome and just not appealing. Constance is a Grande Dame of the sort played by Maggie Smith. She has more speaking parts in this book than in the last. She's not very nice but she's a typical Victorian-minded upper class woman of her time. Julia, on the other hand, is a cool customer. She's nasty for the sake of being nasty. She doesn't care about the family or about her son, she just cares about herself and her own reputation. She's a terrible mother and a worse sister. If Gallahad can be believed, she was a horrible brat as a child. Pilbeam is even more sneaky and nasty than ever. He stoops really low in this book. Lord Tilbury can't be faulted for wanting to publish the book, but he isn't very likeable. He has his own motives for wanting the book published and how to get what he wants. Nothing is too devious or too low for him.

This book is part of the Blandings Castle series but can be read as a stand alone.

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