French Leave (Everyman's Library P G WODEHOUSE) Hardcover – 29 Mar 2013
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"Wodehouse is the greatest comic writer ever." --Douglas Adams "Could a P. G. Wodehouse revival be more timely? Overlook Press, which is reissuing Wodehouse's comic novels, clearly has its finger on America's pulse...With its sumptuously bound editions, Overlook Press has done the master proud." --"Los Angeles Times" "Wodehouse's novels are the very definition of British humor--bubblingly witty and dryly loony. And as Overlook continues its reissue of these absurd souffles, you can buy the work for yourself in suave hardcover volumes, the dust jackets as natty as the prose" --"Entertainment Weekly" "Writers from Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell to Frank McCourt and Ben Elton have praised not only Wodehouse's comic genius but also his impeccable craftsmanship...Each element in a Wodehouse plot, however comically familiar, is irreplaceable." --"Boston Globe" "The jokes in Wodehouse aren't like anyone else's jokes, because they depend less on punch lines than on how he manipulates the language--flawlessly, but with a well-honed sense of fun." --"Newsweek"
In French Leave Wodehouse abandons his familiar world of English country houses and London clubs for a more sophisticated European milieu and the comedy is just as light-hearted.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Confusion with the Marquis de Maufringneuse's ex-wife, two mineral water millionaires, a bent policeman, a drunken publisher and some stolen money all ensure that true love doesn't run a smooth course however we needn't worry too much, in Wodehouse's world only those whom truly deserve it get an unhappy ending.
A Wodehouse novel written without his usual formula, containing no references to members of the Drones or any of Wodehouse's stock characters; I should be praising it for its originality and as a jewel in the Wodehouse crown but if I'm honest what it is lacking is an English ass as the hero and a Country house setting, sorry.
Jo, Kate and Terry, three sisters who live on a chicken farm in Bensonburg, New York come into some money on the sale of their late father’s play to a tv production company. Jo and Terry are determined to squander their share of the money on a once in a lifetime holiday in France, so Kate comes with them to keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t get into trouble. But trouble is waiting, in the form of the Marquis de Maufringneuse, the Comte d’Escrignon, Mrs Winthrop Pegler, Frederick Carpenter, J Russell Clutterbuck, and last but not least Pierre Alexandre Boissonade, Commissaire of Police. Add in the long-suffering M. de La Hourmerie, the hard-done by M. Punez and his brother-in-law M. Floche and you have a great PGW adventure, full of misunderstandings, singular coincidences, long-awaited come-uppances and of course happy endings. Delightful, a real winner.
'French Leave' is one of the more obscure novels in the P.G. Wodehouse canon. Indeed, it is notoriously tricky finding a copy these days. Written in 1955, it contains none of his established characters (not a Wooster, Emsworth, Ukridge or Psmith in sight), nor is it set in his more familiar territory of rural England, bustling London or sunny Hollywood. As such it is something of an oddity from the pen of such a prolific writer, albeit an enjoyable one.
The principal story revolves around various misunderstandings and schemes in the France resort of St. Rocque, where real millionaires mix with pretend millionaires and genuine (but penniless) aristocrats talk on level terms with yacht-owning sparkling water magnates. The inter-linking of characters has all the makings of a typical weekend at Blandings Castle. Among the convoluted twists-and-turns, we follow the fortunes of a young American girl, Terry (short for Teresa) and her search for a rich husband, which leads her to the door of titled-but-poor, Jeff. There are some fine comic moments along the road towards true love, most of which occur one fateful night in the Hotel Magnifique, and which see a conniving chief-of-police on the receiving end of a black eye (a "marron" in Wodehouse speak), and more on-off engagements than you could expect from the complete works of Jane Austin! These scenes play like a fine stage farce, and it is not difficult to imagine doors of a set opening and closing as characters enter and exit the scene with perfect comic timing.
However, 'French Leave' perhaps lacks the warmth of the very best of Wodehouse's books. The intricate plotting does much to cover up the fact that none of the protagonists here have the genuine likeability of his most popular characters. Indeed, this reviewer found the shenanigans of the irresponsible Old Nick (Marquis de Maufringneuse) rather trying, given that he came across as a rather inferior and rather underhand Galahad Threepwood. Likewise, the blending of French and English-speaking characters is a little awkward, and not enough is made of attempts by one side to speak the other's language to comic effect.
Nevertheless, 'French Leave' is thoroughly-enjoyable fluff, the perfect fare for a holiday reading in the sun. This may not be 5 star luxury Wodehouse, but it certainly provides comfortable accommodation for an amusing break.
Fans will be as ever enchanted, oh to live in Wodehouse's world!
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