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Dark Deeds at Blandings
on 9 April 2012
It's ten days after the events of Summer Lightning and Sue Brown is still at Blandings Castle, Lord Emsworth's palatial home in Shropshire. So is Lord Emsworth's sister, the formidable Lady Constance. She is still not keen on the idea of Sue, a chorus-girl, marrying her nephew, Ronnie Fish, but her brother, Galahad Threepwood, has agreed not to publish his scandalous memoirs on condition that no opposition is made to the marriage. Constance considers this to be blackmail, but sees no alternative. Ronnie's mother, Lady Julia Fish, however, is of a different opinion, and has no intention of letting her son throw his life away, as she sees it, on a mere chorus-girl. Also not happy, though for different reasons, is Lord Tilbury, head of the Mammoth Publishing Corporation, who stood to make a mint by publishing the memoirs. He can see the money disappearing into the distance. Meanwhile, Lord Emsworth has other worries. He is still concerned that his neighbour, Sir Gregory Parsloe, is planning to steal his pig, and becomes even more concerned when he finds that Connie has engaged Parsloe's nephew, Monty Bodkin, as his new secretary. To complicate matters further, in true Wodehouse fashion, Bodkin was once engaged to Sue Brown, a fact that needs to be kept secret from the jealous Ronnie. Thus, the scene is set for one of the best of Wodehouse's brilliant farces.
This book, first published in 1933, was the fourth full-length Blandings novel. Wodehouse was at the top of his game having written almost fifty books by this stage, and the plot glides beautifully along its groove, as it would continue to do perfectly for many more years. Heavy Weather marks the first appearance of Monty Bodkin, who would go on to become a favourite Wodehouse character in two later novels, The Luck of the Bodkins, and Pearls, Girls, and Monty Bodkin. We also meet Ronnie's formidable mother, another overbearing female of the Emsworth clan, Lady Julia Fish, for the first and only time. As with the best of Wodehouse's novels, the plot becomes ever more complex, the characters ever more perplexed, until it seems that nothing can unravel the tangle. Wodehouse, however, is more than up to the task, and as ever untangles everything to bring on the long-delayed happy ending.