Friday, May 16, 2014

What I've Read Recently

What I've Read Recently Part I . . .

Full Moon (Blandings Castle, #7)Full Moon by P.G. Wodehouse-- Historical Fiction/Romance

Freddie Threepwood is back in England to promote Donaldson's Dog Joy when he discovers his cousin Prudence is in love with his old friend Bill Lister. Prudence's mother doesn't approve but Freddie falls on the side of true love and encourages his young cousin to marry at the Registry Office before any of the family catch on. His next order of business is to keep Tipton Plimsoll, a young American supermarket owner, sober long enough to secure a sale for Donaldson's Dog Joy. Tipton thinks he's doing just fine on his current bender, until he starts seeing phantom faces! Freddie invites Tipton to recover at Blandings Castle, where he discovers his cousin Prudence in residence without her beloved! Freddie's Aunt Hermione got ahold of the situation and wholeheartedly disapproves of her niece marrying a penniless artist. When Lady Hermione discovers a millionaire in residence, she immediately sets her sights on Tipton for her beautiful, ditzy daughter Veronica. Poor Bill Lister is distraught over losing his fiance, but his godfather, Galahad Threepwood knows just what to do. The course of true love never did run smooth but leave it to P.G. Wodehouse to put his characters in the most outrageous situations. My biggest problem with the novel is that there's a potentially hilarious scene with the Empress and it's left out! The event is related to a character after the fact and in passing. It sounded like a terrifically funny situation and I wonder why Wodehouse didn't include it.

The plot is typical P.G. Wodehouse and very predictable, but it's a lot of fun. I enjoyed it mainly because the familiar characters were back and fully present. Dear old Clarence is still obsessed with his pig, while his sisters sniff their disapproval over everything. (What happened to Lady Constance?) Lady Hermione's husband is nearly as snobby as she is. Verionica is beyond ditzy and spoiled. She's a complete airhead, but of course, she's funny because P.G. Wodehouse creates such fabulous characters. Tipton is a rather unlikeable character. He's perpetually drunk or hung over and has a very nervous disposition. I didn't like his plot very much. I liked Bill in so much as I felt sorry for him but he seemed a weak sort of man. Prudence is a little silly but less silly than her previously lovelorn cousins. She has more sense than all of them put together. I adore Freddie in this book. He's grown so much and finally has a brain. Of course, like his father, it's mainly a one thought brain, but he manages to act almost like a normal human being. Galahad pops in and out of the plot at key moments to direct the action. I adore him and wish he was in more of the book.

The illustrations, by Paul Galdone are dreadful. Some of them are rather risque. He didn't seem to have read the descriptions of Clarance and Galahad. They look the opposite of how they're supposed to.

Mrs. Jeffries and the Merry GentlemenMrs. Jeffries and the Merry Gentlemen by Emily Brightwell -- Victorian Mystery

Orlando Edison's staff is looking forward to a night at the theater as a Christmas treat. They leave their employer listening to a group of Christmas carolers and when they return, they discover their master has been killed. Chief Inspector Barrows discovers Edison lying over the front step of his house with bits of his head dashed everywhere and a golden shovel lying there. He calls in Inspector Witherspoon to solve the case. The staff at Upper Edmonton Gardens are distracted by their own interests and holiday plans. Most of what they learn is that Edison was much beloved by his staff and all the neighbors. There were a few arguments in his recent past. Is one of those people the killer? They also uncover evidence of possible fraud in collusion with The Merry Men, a group of lucky financial investors. If the staff stays focused long enough to figure out the motive, Mrs. Jeffries should be able to crack the case.

I really liked all the period detail in this book. I don't know or care anything about stocks, investments or mines in South Africa, but I know a little bit about what was happening in Africa at that time so I enjoyed seeing the British perspective from London of the period just before the Boer War. There's also a lot about how times have changed for servants and how some people are reluctant to change. That's in just about every book but here it was actually shown through the actions of different characters. There's also a bit about period cooking. There was only one instance where a character's personal comments about something entirely unrelated to the story sounded out of place for the period.

I also liked how Phyllis is coming into her own and an integral part of the story. I actually like her now. Betsy is back on the job and a key investigator. She and Smythe love each other and have stopped bickering. Mrs. Jeffries is a bit too clever to be believable, but the stories are always fun. I couldn't figure this one out on my own. I was completely wrong about who I suspected. The mystery made me stay up too late and wake up too early!

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