Sunday, July 20, 2014

What I Read in June Part IV

What I Read in June Part IV . . .

Service With a SmileService With a Smile by P.G. Wodehouse -- Historical Fiction/Romantic Comedy

Poor Lord Emsworth is beset with problems: he has a new horrid secretary Miss Biggs who makes Baxter look nice; the castle grounds are full of camping boys causing noise and mischief and the Duke of Dunstable has invited himself to Blandings and still thinks the Empress is making Lord Emsworth potty. The Duke has a buyer interested in the Empress and he's willing to do whatever it takes to get his hands on that money and rid Lord Emsworth of his problem. There's the usual pair of star-crossed lovers, this time Myra Schoonmaker (the real one this time) and her penniless suitor plus the third party in the love triangle, Archie Gillpin (brother of Ricky, nephew of the Duke). Fred, the Earl of Ickenham discovers his friends' problems and aims to deliver service with a smile. In order to do that he has to use some underhanded methods to make things come out right.

This book was too long on thwarted lovers and too light on pigs. It lacked a serious screwball scene and a glorious scene with the Empress that made some of the earlier books so delightful. I'm tired of the star-crossed lovers. They're all the same. There's nothing to distinguish this pair from any other pair. Their circumstances are the same, even if the details are different. There is an unexpected plot twist I didn't see coming. I still don't like Fred. He's not like Gally, he's much crazier. I don't like how he lies and manipulates people into doing what he wants, even if it is for good. His nephew Pongo was smart to stay out of it this time. It's amazing Lady Constance didn't press charges. The new secretary is unlikeable and supposed to be. I wanted to like her because she's a strong female character. She knows what she wants and goes after it, but her methods are devious and she's a frightful snob. Another new character is Emsworth's grandson George. He's an annoying little kid who thinks adults are his friends and the more they rebuff him, the more he clings to them. (Much like my oldest niece). He's a minor character but has an important role in the story. I found he complicated things unnecessarily. 

Galahad At Blandings: A Blandings StoryGalahad At Blandings: A Blandings Story by P.G. Wodehouse -- Historical Fiction/Romantic Comedy

Wow there's a lot going on in this book - more than usual. Tipton Plimsoll, fiance of Lord Emsworth's niece Veronica, finds himself locked up with Wilfred Allsop who just so happens to be in love with Monica Simmons, Lord Emsworth's pig girl. Tipton rings up Lord E for bail money, causing a misunderstanding. Poor Lord Emsworth goes to New York for Constance's wedding and is woken up in the middle of the night; then he returns home to enjoy his peace and freedom from meddling sisters when his brother reveals Lady Hermione is currently in residence. Hermione makes Constance seem kind. Not only is there one annoying woman in residence, there are three: Hermione, her widowed friend Dame Daphne (who brought her horrid son) and Sandy Callender, Lord E's new secretary. Dame Daphne has set her sights on marriage to Lord Emsworth and Sandy is crossed in love by her fiance Sam Galahad Bagshott, the son of Galahad Threepwood's old buddy. Lord Emsworth accidentally causes a misunderstanding causing another pair of lovers to be star-crossed. Leave it to Galahad to set everything right. 

Old characters return and a few new ones are introduced. There are several pairs of star-crossed lovers but none of them show any personality. Tippy can be charming when he's not drunk but he's a bit of an idiot. He does provide a lot of the humor though. Wilfred doesn't have much personality. He's rather boring. Sam seemed like an interesting character but when he was faced with difficult situations, a bad side of his personality came out. I didn't like the way he dealt with his problems. Sandy is supposed to be more efficient than Baxter, but she isn't idiotic which doesn't make for an appealing character in terms of comedy. I don't like how the girls are attracted to caveman like behavior. Veronica manages to not be so annoying in this novel, mainly because she isn't in it directly that much. Rounding out the characters is Lady Hermione, frightful as always, and her husband Edgar, who manages to grow a personality. I actually liked him. 

P.G. Wodehouse ramped up the comedy/drama in this novel. Galahad was amazing - getting up to his old tricks and then some. He veers into Uncle Fred territory with lots of deception, law-breaking and lying, which I didn't quite like, but it was pretty funny. the Empress back in full form. Fans of the series will never believe what she imbibes this time. It's truly outrageous! This is one of my favorite Blandings Castle novels. I'm sad I'm almost done with the series but looking forward to reading more Wodehouse soon.

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