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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silly nonsence that warms the soul
Having read many of the jeeves stories 20 years ago and watched again recently the ITV Jeeves and Wooster starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, I thought it was time to get back to Wodehouse for some good cheer. But, I wanted to start on something different, so I decided to start with the first of the Blandings novels. As someone who struggles to get a night sleep...
Published on 23 April 2010 by Aquinas

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something Fresh
This is a very early Blandings book, and in my opinion Wodehouse has not yet got into his stride. The characters are slightly unfamiliar to readers of the later and better known Blandings novels - Lord Emsworth's sister in this story is Lady Anne, a nonentity, and not the terrifying Lady Constance of the later novels; Beach is a pompous hypochondriac with little effect...
Published 24 months ago by Marjorie


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silly nonsence that warms the soul, 23 April 2010
By 
Aquinas "summa" (celestial heights, UK) - See all my reviews
Having read many of the jeeves stories 20 years ago and watched again recently the ITV Jeeves and Wooster starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, I thought it was time to get back to Wodehouse for some good cheer. But, I wanted to start on something different, so I decided to start with the first of the Blandings novels. As someone who struggles to get a night sleep because of pain, it was a sheer delight for me to have the tonic of reading this book peopled with its ecentric characthers and its zany plot. Lord Emsworth is the most striking characther here - he is completely potty, not realising he has stolen an american collector's egyptian scarab. The book is about the collector getting the scarab back and it really is hiarlous at times. I will say though that having just read "Leave it to Psmith" that, if anything, the series gets better with its more complex and convoluted characthers with impersonation being a key theme. Anyway enjoy to your heart's content!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sunrise at Blandings, 29 Mar. 2012
By 
Poldy "Paul" (Darwen, Lancashire) - See all my reviews
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The plot of this glorious novel, the first in the Blandings saga, is as tangled as any in Wodehouse, and begins when Lord Emsworth absent-mindedly pockets a valuable Scarab from the collection of millionaire-businessman J. Preston Peters, whose daughter Aline is engaged to Lord Emsworth's slack-jawed younger son, the Hon. Freddy Threepwood, whilst also being courted by George Emerson, an up-and-coming young officer in the Hong Kong police. Not daring to risk upsetting the marriage plans by accusing Lord Emsworth of stealing the gem or asking for its return, Mr Peters engages an enterprising young man, Ashe Marson, impecunious author of the "Gridley Quayle Mysteries", to get it back for him while posing as his valet during a visit to Lord Emsworth's home, Blandings Castle in Shropshire. His daughter, Aline, takes on her old friend Joan Valentine, former chorus girl and former ladies' maid, as her maid with the same purpose. Complications ensue when the Hon. Freddy, whose cousin has recently been named in a breach of promise case, fears that Joan, to whom he sent letters and, worse, poetry, when he fell under her spell during her time in the chorus, might seek to embroil him in a similar ruinous case. To avoid this, he asks his odious and obese friend, R. Jones, to speak to Joan and endeavour to recover the incriminating letters. Once gathered at Lord Emsworth's idyllic country home, Blandings Castle in Shropshire, presided over by the imposing figure of Beech the Butler, they come under the penetrating gaze of his Lordship's officious and ever-suspicious secretary, the Efficient Baxter.

First published in 1915, Something Fresh was Wodehouse's first foray into Blandings territory. Where later stories in the series would centre on Lord Emsworth and his prize pig, Empress of Blandings, at this stage, Emsworth is little more than a background character, however well-drawn, for the story of how Ashe Marson and Joan Valentine come together in their attempts to recover Mr Peters's prize scarab. With both of these characters entering the scene in the capacity of servants, the primary focus is on the servants rather than the guests, and there is more focus on what goes on `below-stairs' than in any other Wodehouse novel. Most of Wodehouse's stories are love-stories at heart, and this is no different, with Ashe and Joan gradually realising how deeply they care for each other, and Aline Peters seriously questioning whether she really wants to spend the rest of her days with the chump Freddy, while she has an altogether more fitting suitor begging for her hand. Wodehouse was a master of plotting and, having got everyone together in what looks like a tangled mess, he takes great pleasure, and gives us great enjoyment, in untangling all the threads and making sure everyone ends with their just deserts. As usual, Wodehouse draws his characters so vividly they live on the page, from the handsome hero, Ashe, thoroughly sick of writing the bilge by which he earns his daily crust, to the maddeningly forgetful Lord Emsworth, a winner of a character on this, his first appearance, to the Efficient Baxter, always suspecting interlopers of being up to something. Although this is our first trip to Blandings, everything is in place for it to become one of the most idyllic settings in the whole of fiction. Wodehouse is at his sunny best in this, the best of all possible worlds.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 27 Mar. 2011
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A real gem. Simply a great read. It begins dotting from extraordinary character to extraordinary character bringing them together to Blandings Castle where drama, romance and farce is dished up in equal measure. Something happens on every page and like all good novels, the end will leave you missing the principals who you now know so well. Wodehouse is good enough not to disappoint and write another 13.5 Blandings novels.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High jinks at Blandings Castle, 11 Sept. 2011
By 
H. M. Holt "souloftherose" (Tring, Herts) - See all my reviews
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In the first book in P. G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle saga, the Hon. Freddie Threepwood, the youngest son of the incredibly vague Earl of Emsworth has just got himself engaged to a very nice American girl, Aline Peters. Of course, this means that Aline and her rather overbearing father have to come to Blandings Castle to meet the family and all might have gone well if Lord Emsworth hadn't absentmindedly walked off with Mr Peters' priceless Egyptian scarab.

Mr Peters daren't kick up a fuss about this in case Lord Emsworth uses this as an excuse to call the engagement off and so he hires Ashe Marson to steal the scarab back and takes them to the castle in the guise of his valet. Naturally, Ashe isn't the only imposter at the castle trying to steal the scarab and the resulting confusion gives a funny and witty story with the inevitable happy ending that makes Wodehouse one of my 'go to' comfort authors.

Although I think the Jeeves and Wooster books are very fine, Blandings Castle is my real home. Just writing the review makes me want to go and read another one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sans Porc, 29 Feb. 2012
"Something Fresh" is the first of P.G. Wodehouse's Blandings novels. It was first published in 1915 - as "Something New" in the USA and "Something Fresh"in the UK. There are a few differences between the two, though the main plot remains the same.

The book opens with Ashe Marson, a 26 year-old graduate of Oxford University. (Ashe had been intending to read for the church, but was a significantly better athlete than he was a student. Although he eventually scraped through with a degree of sorts, he had to abandon his religious calling. However, he still adheres to Larsen's Exercises...they make him look somewhat ridiculous, they keep him in excellent shape). Ashe now works for the Mammoth Publishing Company in London, churning out "The Adventures of Gridley Quayle"...although very popular, Ashe finds his job absolutely soul-destroying.

Ashe is in the middle of his exercises one morning when he encounters Joan Valentine for the first time...they don't get off to a great start, as she bursts out laughing at him. However, she soon calls round to apologise and Ashe is (unsurprisingly) smitten. (Love at first sight tends to happen in Wodehouse novels, after all). Joan is 23 and has been making her own way in the world for 5 years - like Ashe, she's currently an employee of the Mammoth Publishing Company. However, she has worked as a lady's maid, a governess and even on the stage. After talking to her, Ashe is hopeful he'll find a new career in the newspaper ads.

Meanwhile, Lord Emsworth and his wayward son, the Hon Freddie Threepwood, are paying a brief visit to London. Lord Emsworth hates the city as much as his son loves it - unfortunately for Freddie, he's been more or less under house arrest for the last year. (Lord Emsworth cut off his allowance following a string of gambling debts and made his stay at Blandings Castle, deep in the countryside). Father and son have different appointments however - Lord Emsworth is visiting J. Preston Peters, an American millionaire and the father of Freddie's fiancée, Aline. (The Peters family have been renting the estate next to Blandings since the previous autumn, but J. Preston keeps an impressive scarab collection in his town house). Meanwhile, Freddie pops round to see R. Jones, his very shady ex-bookmaker. He's hoping to "recover" some love-letters he sent to a chorus-girl. (One of Freddie's cousins recently lost a court case, involving some love letters and a claim of breach of promise. Now that he's engaged, he's hoping to prevent the same thing happening to him). For £500, Jones promises all will be fine...

Naturally, nothing goes according to plan. Lord Emsworth, a largely harmless but absent-minded old buffoon, accidentally wanders with one of Peters' very valuable scarabs. Later, he fuzzily (and incorrectly) recalls that that Peters had given it to him as a gift. J. Preston is furious and promises a reward of £1000 to get it back. Joan hears about the reward from Aline - the pair happen to be old schoolfriends. (Coincidentally, she was also the chorus-girl on the receiving end of Freddie's letters). Meanwhile, Ashe is hired by Peters himself - who's placed an ad in the newspaper. Jones also hears about the reward, through a little snooping and lurking in dark corners...and sees a way fo screwing a little more money out of proceedings. It's only a matter of time before all roads lead to Blandings and all hell breaks loose.

An easy and enjoyable read - and the beginning of a series that just gets better and better. Absolutely recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT a TV tie-in!, 22 April 2014
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This review is from: Something Fresh: (Blandings Castle) (Kindle Edition)
This is an excellent novel, Wodehousian in every way and thoroughly enjoyable. Souffle-light, witty to the nth degree and an absolute pleasure.

Well worth the full five stars, even if, and I agree about this, we are not here in the masterpiece league of the Jeeves and Wooster series.

Also, if you're coming to this from the latest BBC 'Blandings' series, beware: Lady Ann makes no appearance; the Empress is not, I think, even mentioned; Lord Emsworth takes only a minor role. All these delights await in future novels in the series ...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something Fresh, 10 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Something Fresh: (Blandings Castle) (Kindle Edition)
This is a very early Blandings book, and in my opinion Wodehouse has not yet got into his stride. The characters are slightly unfamiliar to readers of the later and better known Blandings novels - Lord Emsworth's sister in this story is Lady Anne, a nonentity, and not the terrifying Lady Constance of the later novels; Beach is a pompous hypochondriac with little effect on the events of the story; there is no Empress of Blandings; Baxter is held in high regard by Lord Emsworth - and so on. The main narrative revolves round visiting strangers and not the Threepwood family.

The main disappointment of this book, however, is the language. It entirely lacks the sparkling inventiveness of the later novels, and the comedy resides in the action rather than in the words.

This book is worth reading as a curiosity - Wodehouse feeling his way - but I would not recommend it to someone who wants something as funny as Summer Lightning or the Wooster novels.
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4.0 out of 5 stars First outing for Blandings, 5 Mar. 2014
By 
Mr. M Errington "Chelonist" (Hereford UK) - See all my reviews
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Wodehouse creates worlds as bizarre and improbable as any form of science fiction. The world of Blandings is forst revealed in this novel. Most of the enduring characters are introduced here, such as Clarence, Connie, Freddie and Beech the butler. These characters form the scenery around which the transient actors perform. The world is not yet fully realised, but is very nearly there, and only more familiarity with the scenery would give it more joy. There is a wonderful speech given by the heroine where she explains the snobbishness of the Servant's Hall to the hero who is posing as a valet. Do not confuse this with the two-dimensional TV series, this is a joy of witty words and farcical misunderstandings. Wodehouse seemed incapable of writing badly, and this is a joy to read. I recommend it highly
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5.0 out of 5 stars Clever and Entertaining, 30 Dec. 2013
What do you get if you take a poor tutor called Ash and a penniless gentlewoman called Joan, reveal that both of them write serial stories for magazine and hate the work, then offer both of them the chance to win a thousand pounds?

In Edwardian England, a thousand pounds is a small fortune, so Ash and Joan soon find that they are rivals. Because Something Fresh is a novel by P.G. Wodehouse, it's packed with eccentric butlers, bumbling heirs and forgetful peers as well as a host of other characters. At the idyllic Blandings Castle everyone gets into a frightful muddle, but Ash at least lives to be grateful for his serial story career ...

"Something Fresh" is clever and always makes me laugh.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birth of a legend, 18 Oct. 2007
`Something Fresh' is the first book in what was to become the Blanding's Saga, at the time it was written Wodehouse obviously had no idea how popular the Threepwood family were to become and consequently it does not really fit into the Saga as a whole. In `Something Fresh' Blanding's Castle is no more than a setting for Wodehouse's latest farce and Lord Emsworth one of many comic characters to sit in the background to entertain whilst the romance of Ashe Marson and Joan Valentine is played out.

That is no to say it is a weak novel, it stands head and shoulders above the books Wodehouse was writing at that time and points to the heights he was about to climb. In future Blanding's books the central romance was generally submerged in the tapestry as a vehicle for the members of the household to perform the business of a comedy, here the leads have more work to do and go about it in a workman like way.

Ashe Marson has come to Blanding's posing as valet to J. Preston Peters who has actually employed him to retrieve his priceless Egyptian scarab from Lord Emsworth's collection. Joan Valentine is posing as maid to J. Preston Peter's daughter Aline in order to retrieve the scarab herself and separate the millionaire from a fortune for securing it's return. Matters are confused further by Freddie who is engaged to Aline but is living in fear of been sued for breach of promise by Joan to whom he sent compromising letters when she served in the Chorus on the London Music Hall Scene.

Lord Emsworth is entirely unconscious of the tangle that he initiated by absent-mindedly taking the scarab from Peter's home under the impression it was given to him. The loathsome Rupert Baxter, who serves as Lord Emsworth's secretary, suspects everything is not as it seems but his attempts to take hold of the situation merely serves to loose him his on several occasions.

Can all this confusion be sorted out? Will the boy get the girl? Will the man get the scarab? Will Baxter get the sack? Only Wodehouse can bring us to a safe conclusion, but with Wodehouse as with life, it's not the arriving it's the journey that's important.
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