Thursday, January 28, 2016

What I Read in April 2015 Part I ...

What I Read in April 2015 Part I ...

The Girl in BlueThe Girl in Blue by P.G. Wodehouse--Historical Fiction/Romance

Homer Pyle’s sister Bernadette has been caught shoplifting at a top department store in New York and needs a place to go to get out of the way. Homer is traveling to Brussels to the P.E.N conference so he brings his sister to England to stay at Mellingham Hall, the estate of Mr. Crispin Stokes. Crispin’s younger brother Willoughby, a wealthy solicitor, is excited to show off his new purchase, a Gainsborough miniature of his great-great (possibly great) grandmother. Gerald West meets Jane at jury duty and falls madly in love, but love is ever complicated. For one thing, he’s engaged to the gold-digging Vera Bradshaw and for another, he doesn’t know Jane’s name. When he learns her identity, he’s convinced they will be star-crossed lovers. Meanwhile, back at Mellingham Hall, the Woman in Blue goes missing and everyone is on the hunt in return for a generous reward, including Chippendale, a most unusual butler.

I guess I wasn’t in the mood for Wodehouse because I couldn’t concentrate on this story. I found it difficult to keep track of the cast of characters and I didn’t like knowing where the miniature was. It took some of the fun out of it. There are a couple of really funny scenes and some surprise plot twists but overall, this isn’t one of Wodehouse’s best. My favorite character was Chippendale, the butler. He is a typical quirky Wodehousian character who stole every scene he was in. He’s not a likeable person but he’s funny. Bernadette is another good character. She makes a nice change from Wodehouse’s lovesick maidens. Jane is also an atypical Wodehouse heroine. Possibly these women reflect the women’s lib movement which makes them different from the 1920s women I’m used to reading about. If you’re a dedicated Wodehouse fan, then be sure to read this book. If you’re just beginning, don’t judge him by this one novel. He was at the end of his life when he wrote it.

Hot WaterHot Water by P.G. Wodehouse -- Historical Fiction/Romance

J. Wellington Gedge hates the chateau in southern France his wife made them rent. He misses his old life back in California but Mrs. Gedge has other plans that involve staying in France. She needs the help of Senator Opal, a teetotal tyrant who tries to bully everyone, including his daughter Jane. Jane is secretly engaged to a penniless novelist her father would never approve of. What happens when Packy Franklyn, ex-Yale football star and bon vivant is let loose in St. Roque without his stuffy fiance? A solution to Jane's problem, a boozy French Viscomte, a couple of crooks and a zany plan that just might work... if everyone plays their role correctly.

There is so much going on in this book. It was hard to get into and moved so slowly that I didn't really get into the story until it was almost over. The plot is very similar to early Blandings Castle stories but not quite as well written. It's hard to keep track of who's who and who is pretending to be what and who has which job to do. The story lacks a true screwball scene but has some unexpected plot twists. I wondered which one would prove to be a certain someone but was surprised at who it was.

None of the characters are likable except Jane. She refuses to be bullied by her father. She knows her own mind and is determined to do things her way. She doesn't get discouraged or dismal like the Blandings ladies. She's delightful in every scene and there aren't enough of them. In this novel the women are the stronger characters. The men are weak and stupid.

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