Monday, September 3, 2007

Book reviews: Mike and Psmith; Blandings Castle and Elsewhere

Fourth and fifth vacation books, finished 08/22/07.

I made a small miscalculation here with my P.G. Wodehouse selections: Mike and Psmith and Enter Psmith are not, as I thought, separate novels. In fact, they are the same novel, so I ended up shortchanging myself with regard to Psmith – who is a truly hilarious character. (As a consolation prize, Lord Emsworth of the Blandings Castle stories is nearly as entertaining.)

Mike and Psmith is the fluffy story of two English schoolboys who meet each other on their first day at a new school. Mike is a solid, stolid, loyal cricket-whiz; Psmith is an elegant, eloquent, debonair dude. The two quickly band together to take over the school, doing battle with bullies, crotchety school masters, perceived blackmailers and stout nightwatchmen with aplomb.

Blandings Castle and Elsewhere is a collection of six Blandings Castle short stories, five Mulliner in Hollywood stories, and one miscellaneous story about a very smart young woman who is not quite ready to be married. I didn’t care that much for the 1930s British POV on Hollywood, but I very much liked the Blandings Castle stories: Lord Emsworth is an elderly country lord who worries about his prize-winning pig, has multiple power struggles with his overbearing sister and his Scottish head-gardener and – this actually made me snort out loud – “invariably wished [that his youngest son] had been something entirely different in manners, morals and appearance, and had been the son of somebody else living a distance away.”

Having had just these small tastes of Wodehouse, I am anxious now for more – for more of the fabulous Psmith, more of the eccentric inhabitants of Blandings Castle and also introducing myself to the world of Wooster and Jeeves. Luckily, Wodehouse wrote 96 titles during his 70+ year career so I shall be easily satiated.

You know, this vacation list I selected has so far been amazing: I have found 1-2 more books I want to read for every one I have read!

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