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Mr Wodehouse's idyllic world goes slightly stale
on 22 November 2011
In the classic review almost always quoted on the back covers of PGW books, Evelyn Waugh confidently stated "Mr Wodehouse's idyllic world can never stale". However, having read my collection of Blandings novels again in date order, I can assure you that by the time this one came out (1961), it was getting just the teensiest bit musty. The plot is simpler, the writing is less inspiredly baroque and, although PGW always relied on a limited range of stock characters and we love him for it, here the young lovers Bill Lister and Penny Donaldson - sorry, I mean Bill Bailey and Myra Schoonmaker - are so sketchily drawn as to be ciphers. Minor characters (Beach the butler, George Cyril Wellbeloved the miscreant pig man, and Ricky - sorry, I mean Archie - Gilpin) are so underused they might as well not be there.
As I've observed elsewhere, Wodehouse is incapable of being bad, but all the same I'm glad this is the last of my Blandings collection. I'd hate the idea of reading, say, `A Pelican at Blandings' and feeling compelled to award a Wodehouse novel fewer than 3 stars in my review. It'd be like drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa.