RogerBW's Blog

Something Fresh, P. G. Wodehouse 13 October 2020

1915 comedy. For reasons too silly to go into, several of the guests at Blandings are out to steal a rare scarab… US vt Something New (with slight alterations).

There's a fair bit going on in the early chapters and one suspects that a love polygon might have been intended; but it all falls into place fairly quickly, and this still feels like Wodehouse learning his trade, though he's pretty good at it even now. In the end there's only one misguided relationship rather than a network of the things, and several people are blatantly stupid to the point where it's hard to wish them well. Still, there's an actual villain as well as the Efficient Baxter who's just there to get in people's way and be the butt of the joke, and some of the connections between people (our hero writes the ghastly pulp detective stories of which Freddy Threepwood is fond) are amusing if underused.

The Wanted column of the morning paper is a sort of dredger, which churns up strange creatures from the mud of London's underworld. Only in response to the dredger's operations do they come to the surface in such numbers as to be noticeable, for as a rule they are of a solitary habit and shun company; but when they do come they bring with them something of the horror of the depths.

All right, it's thoroughly frothy, but the writing is solid, the plot more or less makes sense, and we get the sole appearance of the Amazing Vanishing Lady Ann Warblington (mentioned off-stage here as the hostess at Blandings and never heard of again). A good break from heavier fare.

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