Doctor Sally (Everyman's Library P G WODEHOUSE) Hardcover – 2 Oct 2008
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"Pure word music" DOUGLAS ADAMS
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
I imagine it worked well as a play, the dialogue is absolutely fabulous, Lord Tidmouth or Squiffy's reaction to his ex-wife Lottie realising Bill intends to break up with her `You've put the thing in a nutshell. It's all off, and so is he'. Another classic would be Doctor Sally's answering Lottie's concerns on her diagnosis that she requires rest `Aren't you going to look at my tongue?', `I can tell, without looking at it, that it needs a rest too.'
The plot is that Bill Bannister has got over his infatuation with Lottie and has fallen in love with Sally Smith. Lottie's ex-husband and Bill's childhood friend Squiffy has realised that he never got over Lottie. Bill's uncle, Sir Hugo Drake, is trying to get Bill to realise that Lottie would not be a suitable match for him and that someone like Sally would be much more suitable. Sally wasn't looking for love but merely to be taken seriously as a female doctor.
The play was clearly a two act affair with the first act set in the traditional Wodehouse sea side resort of Bingley-on-sea where we are introduced to the protagonists and what passes as the plot. In the second act we are at Bill's country seat where Bill has got Doctor Sally down under the false pretence of being ill whilst Sir Hugo has invited Lottie to illustrate how she would be unhappy in the rural environment.
The plot comes off in the way we would expect and although driven by some of Wodehouse's crisper dialogue it doesn't work as a novel and should certainly not be tackled as an introduction to the masters work. As well as the dialogue the books other redeeming quality is that it is very short.
Although laid-out as a novel, the story has few characters and little in the way of scene-setting. The complex plots full of labyrinthine twists and multiple entanglements which we expect from Wodehouse are conspicuously lacking here. What we are left with is the customary verbal dexterity and bright wit. Far too slight to stand comparison with Wodehouse's more substantial works, this is a minor gem, but a gem nonetheless.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
For those of you who have bested many of Plum's finest, but haven't read Doctor Sally, it's a trifle in length and scope but still contains some of the masters unique creations, such as:
"He spoke with a loving warmth which would have excited the respectful envy of the author of the Song of Solomon."
Squiffy is a pleasure, but Bill is just too unpleasant company for most of the time, and his ultimate redemption didn’t make sense – it was important earlier that he couldn’t find satisfaction in work (like the pig farm), and Sally had him bang to rights as an infantile waster, having a tantrum when he couldn’t have what he wanted. The abrupt revelation that he really was a serious worker jarred – much as you can see Wodehouse delighting in the sketch style humour of the gel becoming … ahem … overwhelmed with desire … with the reverse of the classic words that had left her cold (“Oh, Bill, tell me more about bacteria and butter tonnage! Oh!!).
Otherwise Bill was charmless and ill-tempered (not in a funny way) and there for too much of the time, and even Sally, who was initially refreshing and without a hint of ill-will, became more smug than self-assured. Moreover Bill hasn’t shown himself vaguely worthy – that she would fall for this grumpy ass reflects poorly on her.
Wodehouse, as ever, is all over his narration, and the idea was workable, but the particular interplay of characters for me meant it didn’t soar – and when Wodehouse soars, it doesn’t get much better.