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Blandings Castle is an unexpected mix of short stories. After P.G. Wodehouse began to weave his novels about Clarence, Ninth Earl of Emsworth, and his improbable family and friends into a series of hilarious stories, he realized that he needed to fill in a gap. He warns that the first six stories in this collection constitute "the short snorts in between the solid orgies." Specifically, these stories tell us about happenings between Leave It to Psmith and Summer Lightning.
You find out more about why Clarence doesn't like to have his son, the Honorable Freddie around. You also learn about how the Empress of Blandings won her first Fat Pigs competition. The Custody of the Pumpkin shows Clarence as a plant-focused competitor before he became a pig-focused one. Mr. Wodehouse also lets us know how Freddie came to marry his wealthy wife and join the dog biscuit business in the States. Some of these stories have plots that could have been turned into novels, which makes the short stories all the better. The most delicious of the stories is a sweet tale of Clarence taking it upon himself to do the right thing in Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend.
The seventh tale is a typical Wodehouse country hullabaloo as Bobbie Wickham manipulates all involved to her advantage in dispatching an unwelcome suitor . . . playing the role for herself the Jeeves and Gally usually play in resolving romantic mishaps. It's clever and ever so liberated.
In the last five stories, P.G. Wodehouse unleashes his dissatisfaction with the Hollywood studios into acid satires of moguls and their foibles. For those who know the Hollywood of those days, these tales are almost biographical. Like the Canterbury Tales, there's a delightful element of exaggeration that makes the humor ever so much more tangy. If you dislike phonies, incompetents and those who are out for only themselves, you'll love these stories. If you don't like biting satire, skip these stories. You'll like the earlier seven.
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on 23 April 2010
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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`Full Moon' is a Wodehouse novel set at his own Garden of Eden, Blandings Castle. We last entered Blandings with `Uncle Fred in the Springtime' and although Uncle Fred is not present his understudy The Honourable Galahad is in residence along with The Honourable Freddie whom is amiably if not ably assisting him in bringing to a happy conclusion the courtship of his cousins Prudence and Veronica to Bill `Blister' Lister and Tipton Plimsoll respectively.

As ever complications come in the way of Lord Emsworth's inability to grasp or remember anything which is further mixed up by Blisters appearance under not one but three assumed names. The difficulties mount until Wodehouse and Gally pull the hug out from under them with there usual deft touch.

As well as true love the winners here are the reader with priceless prose and dialogue such as an interview between Gally and Lady Hermione on the first arrival of Blister, `Is he wanted by the Police?', `No, he is not wanted by the Police.', `How I sympathize with the Police, I know just how they feel'.
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on 29 April 2001
PG Wodehouse is universally acknowledged as the greatest humourist ever to write in the English language, and this collection of short stories provides ample reason why. A variety of stories are included, focusing on all members of the Emsworth clan (a treat for those of us who think that Lord Emsworth is given somewhat short shrift in the full-length novels). A smattering of Mr. Mulliner's Hollywood yarns round out the package. Not quite as good as Jeeves, perhaps, but still a rib-tickling read.
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`Blandings Castle' or `Blandings Castle and Elsewhere' to give it its full title is a collection of short stories set, surprising enough, in Blandings Castle and elsewhere. It is really a book of two halves with the first half chronicling the Threepwood family of Blandings, the second half concerning Mr Mulliners tall tales and a brief interlude of a story about Bobbie Wickham, a thoroughly modern girl.

The Blandings short stories allow the Threepwoods and particularly Lord Emsworth to come out of the shadow of being in the supporting cast of Wodehouse's novels to take centre stage. These six stories highlight whilst a character actor can make a story in support he cannot necessarily carry it alone. The stories which feature Lord Emsworth in the lead are the poorer stories whilst the ones which follow the novel template of boy meets girl, Aunt Constance refuses match, Lord Emsworth brings things to a satisfactory conclusion for the sake of an quiet life, are where these characters really shine.

The Bobbie Wickham story is, in my opinion, the best story in this collection, as Bobbie manipulates all the men captivated by her vivid red hair to get the better of her mothers desire to marry her to the nearest novelist or poet.

The five Mr Mulliner stories are better than the majority to populate his solo ventures possibly due to them being themed around the Mulliners whom work in the Hollywood film industry. No doubt tempered by Wodehouse's own experiences of being a staff man at MGM where he famously said `I've never been paid so much; for doing so little'. His stories of yes men and nodders (junior yes men whom agree with their superiors without recourse to chanting yes) are fantastic. The action in `Monkey Business' is worth the price of admission on its own.

Another great collection in the Wodehouse cannon and if I had a critism it is that it should be reverted to its original title to prevent it being used as an introduction to the Blandings stories. `Summer Lightening; A Blandings story' is the best introduction to Blandings Castle and I imagine this book has put off more weary travellers to the castle grounds than it has attracted.
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on 11 September 2011
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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on 27 March 2011
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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`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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P G Wodehouse certainly knew how to write funny books.

This time, a heap of relatives have descended upon Blandings and Clarence. His Sister Lady Hermione Wedge her daughter and her Husband and her Niece Prudence who has been sent 'down' to the Castle for attempting to marry a so called 'Commoner'. Said 'Commoner' is one Bill Lister, yet another of Gally's myriad of Godsons.

Then Freddie arrives back in the UK. He is now married and has been sent to England to convert the Brits to the brand of dog food his Company manufactures back in the US. Clarence of course is horribly shocked that Freddie might be returning to the 'nest' permanently.

Then we meet Tipton Plimsoll another American who one day develops spots on his chest so off he tootles to Harley Street to try and discover what is causing his ailment. The Physician at Harley Street tells him that if he doesn't lay off the booze he will end up having hallucinations. This is where things start to become really funny.

Gally and Bill get together to form a plan to get the latter into Blandings where he can once again court Prudence.......inevitably things go from bad to worse and T. Plimsoll Esq., is now convinced that he is seeing the face of a gorilla everywhere he looks. In fact it is poor Bill attempting to pass himself off as an artist of the porcine variety....the resulting painting of the Empress deeply wounds the Earl. So trying once more Gally comes up with a disguise for his Bill......a beard.

Tipton too has fallen in love with Veronica the rather dim daughter of Lady and Lord Wedge.

Then there is the incident of the diamond necklace which of course Clarence has managed to mess up again.

All in all this I believe is the funniest book of the 10 Wodehouse wrote.
There are a lot of typos in this book which I have informed Amazon about.............i.e. instead of Gally you keep seeing Gaily.
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on 26 April 2010
Perhaps its because I am not a great fan of the short story form, but I did not find these short stories as enticing as the full length Blandings novels. Even so, the fun is there galore and I often laughed out loud at the nonsense. Let me give an example of the kind of desciptions that makes Wodehouse a genius. Lor Emsworth looking out his telescope takes interest in a cow but: "Presently, the cow's audience-appeal began to wane. It was a fine cow, as cows go, but, like so many cows, it lacked sustained dramatic interest". Curiously I though Freddie Threepwood began to sound more and more like Bertie Wooster in these short stories than I had noticed in the novels.

I did not really get into the Mulliner stories but perhaps this is because I am single mindedly focusing on Blandings at the minute.
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