Saturday, June 6, 2009

Really rather irresistible

Have you got a library handy?

May I recommend that you find one of P. G. Wodehouse's books, and read it?

I just read my first Wodehouse novel last night. I am utterly hooked.

It was called Do Butlers Burgle Banks? The silly title is misleading; the book was impossibly clever.

Here is a passage that I found particularly enjoyable.

Ada Cootes- a short, stocky secretary- is leaving work when her employer, Mr. Bond, offers her a ride home to Wallingford.

"Ada bridled a little. Her pride had been wounded.

'Thank you, Mr. Bond, I can take care of myself,' she said with the quiet confidence of a girl who in her time had twice found it necessary to quell intoxicated citizens with her umbrella and had done it with the greatest success, leaving the inebriates wondering dreamily what had hit them. Though small, she was solid and muscular, and when armed with this Excalibur of hers feared no foe in or out of shining armor. Her strong wrists could always be relied on to supply the follow-through that makes all the difference.

It was consequently with no trepidation that she set out for the town. It was a lovely evening, and she found the two-mile walk most invigorating. She had turned into the side-street where her home was, a two-roomed flat over a confectioner's shop, when her thoughts were abruptly diverted by a spectacle fortunately rare in Wallingford even in race week. A few yards in front of her a stout man who looked like a Roman emperor had paused and taken his wallet from his pockets, apparently in order to gloat over its contents, and a lean, predatory individual, appearing from nowhere as is the way of lean, predatory individuals all the world over, had snatched it from his grasp and was now approaching her at a high rate of speed.

Except for the two intoxicated citizens of whom mention had been made, Ada's had been a sheltered life, and until now no situation of this kind had thrust itself upon her, but a woman's instinct told her the correct course to pursue. Acting promptly, as Joan of Arc would have done in her place, she extended the umbrella which had served her so well on those previous occasions. The predatory one, receiving it between his flying legs, performed several steps of what might have been one of the more uninhibited modern dances, and the wallet flew from his hand. Prudently not pausing, he continued his headlong course, and the Roman emperor, galloping up, swooped on his property and clutched it to his bosom."

Yes, it's rather quaint. Isn't it fun though?

As impressed as I was with my first Wodehouse experience, I read a review of Do Butlers Burgle Banks? that calls it "the lightest of light comedies" and "a Wodehousean souffle."

So it's actually not one of his better works, but rather a minor book he wrote in his later years.

Which means that his other books will only get better.

Isn't that thrilling?

1 comment:

  1. Read the Jeeves and Wooster books. Those are Wodehouse's best.