In this ninth of his eleven Blandings Castle farces, P. G. Wodehouse brings a large cast of mostly repeating characters to Blandings Castle in Shropshire, where their adolescent behavior, their misplaced values, and their obliviousness to real issues in a real world, allow Wodehouse to create gentle but pointed satire of the British upperclass, of which he himself was also a member. Written in 1965, but set in 1929, this novel, like all Wodehouse writing, is timeless in its ability to capture the silly, the petty, and the laughable in complex and hilarious plots in which numerous misunderstandings occur because characters refuse to be honest with themselves and with each other.
Tipton Plimsoll, who begins the novel "sleeping it off" in the pokey in New York City after a riotous night on the town with fellow Englishman Wilfred Allsop, discovers that his wallet has been stolen during the night. Unable to pay his way out of jail, despite his large fortune, he calls Lord Emsworth, a future in-law, who is in New York, telling him he has lost his money and needs to borrow a small sum. This is October, 1929, however, and Lord Emsworth and everyone else who hears this story, assumes that Tipton, engaged to marry Lord Emsworth's niece, is bankrupt as a result of the stock market crash. While in New York, Tipton has discovered that his friend and cellmate, the slightly built Wilfred Allsop worships from afar the Amazonian Monica Simpson, who takes care of the Empress of Blandings, Lord Emsworth's prized pig. Tipton determines to bring them together.
When all the characters have returned to Blandings, Tipton Plimsoll's fiancée, Veronica Wedge, is instructed by her demanding mother Hermione to break off her engagement to Tipton, her now "penniless" fiance. Galahad Threepwood, Lord Emsworth's younger brother and an incorrigible meddler, also at Blandings Castle, is determined to keep his overbearing sister out of the relationship. He himself plans to bring together Sandy Callender, Lord Emsworth's "secretary" and her former fiance Samuel Galahad Bagshott, who in pique has called her a "ginger-haired fathead." As one might expect in a farce, complications arise in even the most elementary plot lines, and as the various lovers try to "conquer all," Galahad Threepwood remains front and center pulling the strings.
The action is fast and furious, with one complication following another. The humor is obvious and very visual, with silly characters behaving much the way they do in the early TV sitcoms or Marx Brothers movies. Wodehouse's sense of timing and his fine grasp of his characters, many of whom repeat throughout the series, keep readers amused and feeling as if they are reading about the escapades of old friends who don't quite "get it." A delightful entertainment which allows Wodehouse to tweak upperclass pretensions and values, which he has seen up close in his own life, Galahad at Blandings is fun to read for the memories it conjures of a much earlier time and place. n Mary Whipple