Something Fresh by PG Wodehouse, one of the most remarkable comedy writers, author of Thank You, Jeeves http://realini.blogspot.com/2019/02/thank-you-jeeves-by-pg-wodehouse-9-out.html and other great comedies
10 out of 10
This is a novel that fits perfectly in this age of turmoil and atrocity, when Russia has invaded Ukraine, with tens of thousands dead, millions forced to take refuge, others enduring the freezing cold in blackouts provoked by the targeting of energy infrastructure, China is getting ready to swallow Taiwan, and it is a question of when they will push for that, not if, because they have had this history of violence, taking Tibet some decades ago, back enough in time for most people not to be aware of that monstrosity, they push around in the South China Sea, against Japan and almost all their neighbors.
Reading a book that offers solace, humor is indicated once in a while, humor is one important element of happiness and a having a sense of humor is a character strength http://realini.blogspot.com/2022/07/character-strengths-and-weaknesses.html that could be developed by reading PG Wodehouse, who is not shallow, but mixes humor with social analysis and irony
Freddie Threepwood is the younger son of the Earl of Emsworth, and he is engaged to marry Aline Peters, the daughter of American millionaire J. Preston Peters, the earl is amnesic to say the least, the poor man may suffer from Alzheimer, for he forgets, well, everything, something which makes for very amusing conversations (albeit it might be cruel to laugh at a man who forgets what he has just said, less than a minute ago) and awkward moments, such as the one when he is told he has taken a fork in his pocket at the club.
The Earl of Emsworth is invited to see the collection of scarabs that Preston Peters has accumulated, and absent mindedly takes on with him, just like he did with the aforementioned fork, causing great chagrin when the collectionaire finds out he is missing one of his most cherished possessions, and there is nothing he can do about it, unless he wants to compromise the future of his daughter, who wants to marry the earl’s son
The rich American offers a reward of one thousand pounds to the person who will get his precious scarab back, with two main characters competing for that money, the writer Ashe Marson and the former chorus girl (though she had taken quite a few jobs before) Joan Valentine, who had received letters from Freddie that he (Freddie) thinks could be compromising and thus he sends a fellow to get them back
Ashe Marson reads an ad and takes the job of valet for Preston Peters, with the intention of taking the scarab back, and at the same time, Joan Valentine pretends to be a lady’s maid for her friend, Aline Peters, when Joan meets with Ashe on the train, it is clear that she knows about decorum and etiquette.
Meanwhile, he is so ignorant that it would be better for him to return to London and not risk exposure, embarrassment and worse at the Blandings Castle, it is amusing for the audience to find that there is a very rigid hierarchy in the servants’ quarters, the butler presides over the ceremonies that we have seen in Downton Abbey http://realini.blogspot.com/2019/12/downton-abbey-screenplay-by-julian.html
A very well established pecking order is functioning, cooks have their room for their meals and the help are just as fussy as their employers on matters of comme il faut…one of the many amusing episodes takes place as the servants eat and the valet of Freddie mentions the letters that the latter had sent to Joan Valentine, who is there at the table, under the name of Simpson, and she is losing her composure…
That is because the valet is coming to the realization that Ms. Simpson looks very much like Joan Valentine and in seconds we can expect him to say that the two are one and the same, and to help, Ashe intervenes telling his neighbor about the cat fights in London and then starts a kerfuffle, with the object of distracting the attention and eliminating the chance of his partner in crime to be exposed
The servants hesitate between rejecting this exhibition as not suitable for their sober, decent, rigorous perspective on things and laughing at it, fortunately, they opt for the second, and Ashe becomes very popular among the employees, with the exception of the butler, Beach, who is quite a character
When he first met Beach, Ashe struggled with the boredom caused by the sharing of the ailments that was the habit of the butler, from his lining of the stomach to other parts of the body, but as he tries to win him over after the episode of the cats fight at the table, Beach does not respond to questions over his illnesses.
Until Ashe mentions that he wants to see the museum, where the scarab is, and that satisfies the butler in large measure, for the museum is associated with the only time he has seen his name in print, when a journalist took the tour and then published in his newspaper an article beginning ‘my Cicerone, Mr. Beach’
There are some climaxes in the plot, such as when the scarab disappears, but neither Joan nor Ashe took it, while havoc ensues, when the man in control of the castle, the assistant to the earl, Rupert Baxter, falls flat in his own trap, because at night, when a fight ensues, with food dispersed in the room and Baxter is found there, the earl takes it to be proof that his man was hungry, but that is no reason to wake everybody up, so he demands that for the future, he needs to get meals from the servants and to stop making this fandango