Thursday, January 28, 2016

What I Read in August 2015 Part IV

What I Read in August 2015 Part IV ...

The Ice in the Bedroom by P.G. Wodehouse--Historical fiction

Freddie Widgeon is in need of 3000 pounds so he can go off to join his friend on a Kenyan coffee plantation. He won't get that in his menial job for Messrs. Shoesmith, Shoesmith, Shoesmith and Shoesmith so when an American man named Molloy, offers him shares in a silver mine, Freddie thinks his fortune will soon be made. Now, if only he can convince his beloved Sally to return to him and join him in Kenya. Unbeknownst to Freddie, Thomas G. Molloy is actually a Chicago gangster known as "Soapy." No longer part of a gang, Soapy and his wife Dolly are partners in crime. Dolly, fresh off her stint in prison, announces the Molloys are made, for she pulled off the ultimate heist before she was caught shoplifting. She managed to purloin the Prosser jewels. (Belonging to Oofy Prosser's wife). However, there's a hitch in their plan of living large. While Dolly was in jail, Soapy left their suburban home to set them up at a grand hotel in London and Dolly left the "ice" at Castlewood. All they have to do is go get it. Easier said than done now that the house is let to noted romance novelist Leila Yorke, who moved to suburbia for research into her latest (and very different novel). Leila brought along her secretary, Freddie's beloved Sally, who wants nothing to do with Freddie and his string of girlfriends. Just when things start to go right... they go wrong again.

This is a cute, madcap adventure story in the Drones Club series. The plot moved quickly and kept my interest almost the whole time. Just what I thought the plot was coming to a screeching halt, Wodehouse threw a curveball that took the plot roaring off in another direction. It finally reaches a fairly zany conclusion though a bit tame for Wodehouse. The love story starts and stops and remains fairly unbelievable as usual for Wodehouse's star-crossed lovers. It was sweet though and I couldn't help but root for the characters.

I especially like how Wodehouse always makes his women intelligent - more so than the men. In this novel it's Sally who has the brains and the job. Freddie is, well, a widgeon. Leila Yorke is also very bright and shrewd. I liked her a lot. She's larger than life and knows what she wants and isn't afraid to get it. I didn't quite like her romantic plot all that much but it made the ending crazy. Dolly is also the brains of the criminal operation. I actually liked her though she was an unashamed crook. She comes up with the best schemes which made the story very enjoyable.

The men don't fare as well. They're all incredibly stupid, even George who went to Oxford and is a cop. Freddy is the leas intelligent of them all but he's sweet and you just have to love him. Soapy/Thomas is supposed to be a charmer but obviously some people figure out his charm is phony and see through him. He's not very bright for a thief. He manages to mess up his wife's plans very thoroughly. 

I definitely recommend this novel as a bit of light reading. It's not his best but it's not his worst either.

The Luck of the Bodkins by P.G. Wodehouse--Historical fiction

Ivor Llewellyn is shocked when his sister-in-law Mabel announces her sister Grayce has bought a $50,000 necklace she expects Ivor to smuggle into the U.S. without paying duties. Of course he can afford the price he's president of Suberba-Llewellyn Motion Picture Corporation, but Grayce threatens a Paris divorce if Ivor doesn't comply with her wishes. When Monty Bodkin, the unfortunate former secretary of Lord Emsworth and erstwhile detective for P. Frobisher Pilbeam, asks Ivor how to spell a word, Ivor gets it into his head that Monty overheard the conversation about the necklace and is really a customs agent in disguise. When Monty's fiance Gertrude Butterwick breaks up with him, he books passage on the steamer Atlantic to follow her to New York. Ivor and Mabel are also on the ship, solidifying Ivor's belief Monty is after him. Also on board are Monty's pal Reggie Tennyson and his brother Ambrose, who has just been invited to come write scenarios for Suberba-Llewellyn Motion Picture Corporation. Reggie's gal pal, the famous actress Lotus Blossom is on the Atlantic too, wanting to renew her friendship with Reggie in a most demonstrative way. 

Typically of Wodehouse this story features star-crossed lovers, zany scenes and instead of a butler, a meddling steward Alfred Peasemarch. I found this story has too many misunderstandings and confusions for my taste. It went on too long and the charm wore off quickly. 

As stupid as Monty and Reggie are, Ivor and Alfred were worse. Alfred was so completely annoying, constantly popping up where he was not wanted and causing trouble. Wodehouse's men are usually pretty dim but for Ivor to believe MONTY is a Customs' Agent and someone else is a famous writer, he has to be incredibly stupid. He didn't annoy me as much as Alfred though. Every time Alfred was around, I cringed. Monty was my favorite character. I felt really bad for him. He's such a nice chap and didn't deserve anything that happened to him.

 Wodehouse's women are usually much more intelligent than the men but not in this case. He really let me down with his obnoxious, annoying, stupid women. Lottie really took the cake. She was just so awful and obnoxious, not to mention cruel and thoughtless. She didn't care about willful destruction of property, Gertrude's feelings and thought it was funny to let people get a look at her unusual pet. She was selfish and cruel and I couldn't stand her. Her only growth is told rather than shown. Gertrude was no prize either. She was supposedly very much in love with Monty but yet doubted him and never let him catch a break. Monty doesn't deserve her. Mabel was the only one with sense and she came up with a whole bunch of silly ideas to break the law. She also came up with a great idea to do something that would benefit her and the one she loved. Still, she was a strong female character and I found her the most likable of them all.

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