According to the dustjacket praise, it is impossible to be unhappy while reading Wodehouse. Taking this assertion to heart, I have laid in a stock of Wooster & Jeeves paperbacks for planes, trains, and automobiles. I can’t pinpoint the source of the goodness — as with Austen, the plots universally involve upper-class Brits running around and getting affianced, to the point where it all becomes pure vehicle. Austen has a delightful wickedness, but Wodehouse is gleeful escapist absurdity. I just suspend my egalitarianism and relax into the books for a good hot soak.
Still, at almost a hundred books, there have to be misses with the hits. My current hypothesis is that they break down according to series. The Jeeves books are the best — Bertie’s quippy narration makes the whole world sparkle. Mr. Mulliner tells some rollicking good tall tales, too. The Blandings Castle books, which are not narrated in character, are a bit disappointing. All Wodehouse plots are convoluted and contrived, but somehow the contrivation is more felt in Blandings Castle, possibly due to blandness. They read like scripts to Fawlty Towers, which isn’t bad, but I can’t shake the sense that I’m reading a 1950s TV series.
Nothing Serious – short stories from the Drones Club, with a bit of a golf fixation. My favorite is the first story, “The Shadow Passes,” about how Bingo Little’s wife hired Bingo’s childhood nanny to watch their newborn son.
Meet Mr. Mulliner – stories told by Mr. Mulliner, who spends 100% of his time at the pub telling stories about his relatives. Again my favorite is the first one, “The Truth about George,” wherein Mulliner’s nephew George must talk to three strangers a day to overcome his stuttering.
No Nudes Is Good Nudes – a Blandings Castle novel wherein people get tangled up over a portrait of a reclining nude. Gally as the hero, Emsworth as the stooge, Connie as the terror, and introducing Alaric, Duke of Dunstable as the boor.