Monday, April 12, 2010

P. G. Wodehouse: Something Fresh

A while ago I visited one of Uppsala's newest libraries, in the new "cultural centre" in Stenhagen. It's still very sparsely stocked with books, so I wandered around a bit and felt a little sad when I saw that the English fiction all fit into pretty much one shelf. If I want to donate some books I'll know which library to prioritise, clearly. Anyway, I did borrow this and two more: a short story collection by Ishiguro and a children's novel by Gaiman. So not all bad!

I read this one first, on the sly (trying to fool myself that I wasn't really reading in defiance of my self-imposed ban). It's the first of the so-called Blandings novels, which means that Blandings Castle and its inhabitants stand somehow at it's centre. It's the usual Wodehouse thing, with a young couple falling in love and the necessity to recover a stolen something (in this case a rare Egyptian scarab).

What struck me was how modern it was. The young hero and heroine are both working people, trying to make a living writing for cheap magazines and struggling with it. There is talk of emancipation and the struggle for the vote. It is taken for granted that people will want to choose freely whom to marry. It feels a little as though it's 15 years before its time, at least. Definitely recommended on this fact alone. I had to struggle to put the characters in the right type of clothes in my imagination!

It was apparently first printed in the US which explains why prices are sometimes given in dollars and sometimes in pounds. Bit so-so on the editing in general, but then he was a productive gentleman and didn't perhaps have time for cleaning up his manuscripts.

Cute and funny, I liked it.

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