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Sunset at Blandings [Paperback]

Douglas Adams , P. G. Wodehouse , Richard Usbourne , BN.T.P. Murphy , Tony Ring
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Aug 2000
This is Wodehouse's last, unfinished chronicle of Blandings and includes a treasure trove of detailed notes on the final stages of the plot, enabling us to watch over his shoulder to observe the master at work. The revels at Blandings Castle are now ended but, as Richard Usborne confirms delightedly, its cloud-capped towers shall not dissolve. Although written when Wodehouse was ninety-three, the pages of "Sunset At Blandings" remain 'funny, fresh, young in heart and full of hammocks, sunshine and four pairs of lovers headed for altars.'

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (31 Aug 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140284656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140284652
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 1.5 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 813,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The author of almost a hundred books and the creator of Jeeves, Blandings Castle, Psmith, Ukridge, Uncle Fred and Mr Mulliner, P.G. Wodehouse was born in 1881 and educated at Dulwich College. After two years with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank he became a full-time writer, contributing to a variety of periodicals including Punch and the Globe. He married in 1914. As well as his novels and short stories, he wrote lyrics for musical comedies with Guy Bolton and Jerome Kern, and at one stage had five musicals running simultaneously on Broadway. His time in Hollywood also provided much source material for fiction. At the age of 93, in the New Year's Honours List of 1975, he received a long-overdue knighthood, only to die on St Valentine's Day some 45 days later.

Product Description

About the Author

PG Wodehouse was created a Knight of the British Empire in 1975, and died on St Valentine's Day in the same year at the age of ninety-three. His books are published in every language, and have been frequently adapted for radio and television. He is the greatest comic writer of the twentieth century.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This book will only appeal to those who are hard-core P.G. Wodehouse fans, especially those who love the books about the inhabitants of Blandings Castle and the Empress of Blandings. For these fans, Sunset at Blandings will be a delightful revelation and a final memorial to the great comic master. For everyone else, this book will be a non-starter.
P.G. Wodehouse died, unfortunately, while working on the manuscript for Sunset at Blandings (a title he would never have chosen himself, as the editor notes). The first draft of the manuscript was pretty far along with a story line written for the first sixteen chapters, along with many notes about how to revise those chapters and write the final six.
The noted Wodehouse expert, Richard Usborne, has done a fine job of reviewing the notes and taking his best guess as to how the book probably would have been competed, and arranged to transcribe the remaining hand-written notes which are reproduced here. From those notes, you get a sense of how the marvelously intricate and fast-moving plots were developed and how each page ended up with so many original turns of phrase that bring a smile to the reader's delighted face. It was well worth the trip to understand how much rewriting, condensing and polishing P.G. Wodehouse did. He always makes it seem so effortless. I found it reassuring as a writer to discover that he struggled with his craft much as most writers do.
To me, the book held two other delights that were unexpected. First, Mr. Usborne has considered all of the manuscripts about Blandings Castle and taken a crack at what the floor layout and surrounding grounds might have looked like. That's quite a challenge because P.G. Wodehouse didn't have an editor who cared about continuity to rein him in.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Last Chance to See. 4 July 2008
Format:Paperback
Wodehouse was working on this novel, subsequently titled `Sunset at Blandings' when he died and such is his, and Blandings, popularity that even some thirty years after his death and its initial posthumous publication that it is still in print. The part of this book that is the first half of the last Blandings story sets the plot out beautifully and it is, of course, a tragedy that it wasn't finished. However this is a Wodehouse Blandings story and we know the leads eventually elope and the good people are warmed to their cockles whilst the bad people are slightly disconcerted by the series of events.

The book also includes Richard Usborne's analysis of the notes Wodehouse left and on what he imagined the rest of the novel would have contained and some extensive notes as to Wodehouse's working methods which are very interesting and illuminating. These sections are keen to point out errors that they assumed Wodehouse would correct later in the draft and many a disclaimer that much of Wodehouse's fantastic prose would be inserted later and although this is no doubt correct there is still plenty of fantastic prose to keep most of us entertained.

Other sections of the book are a great many footnotes compiled by Tony Ring and Norman Murphy's essays on the model for not only Blandings itself but also the Empress.

Outside of the fragment of the novel the best part of this book is the forward by the now also late Douglas Adams, definitely the best foreword I've ever come across and an ideal opener for this, Plum's last writing.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A classic Wodehouse. The notes which complete the book, (because Wodehouse died before it was finished) do not spoil the book, but make it all the more interesting! The choices and decisions Wodehouse has are immense and allow the book to weave it's twisted path through the plot of Sunset at Blandings, Wodehouse's LAST book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars v.interesting tho not a typical P G Wodehouse 1 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's not really a story,it's the plans for his last book which he was working on when he died, and comments from other authors.It was fascinating to see how he went about constructung his work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Last Look at a Master's Inner Workings at Blandings Castle 5 Dec 2004
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book will only appeal to those who are hard-core P.G. Wodehouse fans, especially those who love the books about the inhabitants of Blandings Castle and the Empress of Blandings. For these fans, Sunset at Blandings will be a delightful revelation and a final memorial to the great comic master. For everyone else, this book will be a non-starter.

P.G. Wodehouse died, unfortunately, while working on the manuscript for Sunset at Blandings (a title he would never have chosen himself, as the editor notes). The first draft of the manuscript was pretty far along with a story line written for the first sixteen chapters, along with many notes about how to revise those chapters and write the final six.

The noted Wodehouse expert, Richard Usborne, has done a fine job of reviewing the notes and taking his best guess as to how the book probably would have been competed, and arranged to transcribe the remaining hand-written notes which are reproduced here. From those notes, you get a sense of how the marvelously intricate and fast-moving plots were developed and how each page ended up with so many original turns of phrase that bring a smile to the reader's delighted face. It was well worth the trip to understand how much rewriting, condensing and polishing P.G. Wodehouse did. He always makes it seem so effortless. I found it reassuring as a writer to discover that he struggled with his craft much as most writers do.

To me, the book held two other delights that were unexpected. First, Mr. Usborne has considered all of the manuscripts about Blandings Castle and taken a crack at what the floor layout and surrounding grounds might have looked like. That's quite a challenge because P.G. Wodehouse didn't have an editor who cared about continuity to rein him in. The marvelously misshapen incongruities are brought together for a sense of what must usually have been the case in these novels. Second, Mr. Usborne used the railway schedules and descriptions of the surroundings to take a guess about where in Shropshire Blandings Castle was imagined to be. That discussion might seem senseless except when you read the notes about when the Library of Congress began its research to find out about the copy of the Gutenberg Bible that was deposited there in one of the early stories about the castle.

The story is one that holds much promise. Galahad Threepwood is again trying to help young lovers by foiling one of his sisters. He helps his niece, Victoria (Vicky) Underwood, to smuggle in her artist fiancé, Jeff Bennison, under the guise of being a well-known painter of pigs to make an oil of the Empress for the family portrait gallery. As usually, the poor fellow's fault is that he has no money. Naturally, Vicky is rolling in the stuff so the challenge is to get her stepmother out of the way. Vicky wants to elope but Jeff demurs because he wants Clarence to get his pig portrait first. That puts a strain on the old relationship. As another plot line, Sir James Piper, England's Chancellor of the Exchequer, is also drawn to Blandings where he will encounter another of Gally's sisters, Diana Phipps, with whom he is in love . . . but too shy to declare himself. Having a body guard doesn't make matters any easier. What ho! How will it turn out? No one knows for sure, and you guess is as good as Mr. Usborne's is.

Have fun!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The master at work--inside writing. 7 May 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It was a bitter-sweet experience to read this book years ago, knowing it was P.G.'s last, and unfinished to boot. However, the editor (a Wodehouse biographer) included manuscripts and early drafts, showing marginal notes and erasures, Wodehouse's outline of his plot, and false starts of plot lines, and the editor's own analysis. A fascinating look into the process of writing.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sadly, unfinished 25 Jun 2004
By Psmith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Sunset at Blandings was Wodehouse's last and, sadly, unfinished book. What there is of the book is, as Wodehouse's writing invariably is, very funny. Accompanying the unfished novel are some wonderful extras including Wodehouse's plot outline, some of his other notes, the editor's analysis of the book, a short piece about the origins of Blandings Castle and another about the Empress of Blandings. If you're new to Wodehouse you should probably read something else of his first (Leave it to Psmith and Pigs Have Wings are both excellent for first-timers), but for those who like Wodehouse this offers an wonderful look at how he did his writing.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sunset=Last... 28 Feb 2001
By "favoritebooks" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is like all the other Wodehouse books, Galahad trying to bring a couple together. It is a wonderful satire on all the earls, lords, dukes etc. etc. This one is about a lover who is posing as a person who is going to paint a pig, the Empress. Wodehouse never finished the book (because he died while writing it), but that makes it even more interesting. But be careful, once you start reading his books, most likely you will not stop. Everybody will be able to enjoy it a little bit, for his books make you laugh until tears come rolling down your cheeks. Cheers! :)
4.0 out of 5 stars Unfinished. 26 May 2014
By K. Spangler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's hard to rate a book that was unfinished when the author died. I normally don't like these kind of last attempts to capitalize on an author's popularity, but I had read Wodehouse's last Blanding's Castle book. He has such great wit, and I found myself laughing out loud. It's too bad he wasn't able to finish it.
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