This is the first Blandings novel, in which P.G. Wodehouse introduces us to the delightfully dotty Lord Emsworth, his bone-headed younger son, the Hon. Freddie Threepwood, his log-suffering secretary, the Efficient Baxter, and Beach the Blandings butler.
As Wodehouse wrote, ‘without at least one imposter on the premises, Blandings Castle is never itself’. In Something Fresh there are two, each with an eye on a valuable Egyptian amulet which Lord Emsworth has acquired without quite realizing how it came into his pocket. But of course things get a lot more complicated than this…
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Publisher: Audible Studios
Series: Blandings Castle #1
Running Time: 7 hrs 28 mins
Audio Release Date: 13/06/07
My Rating of ‘Something Fresh’: 3 out of 5
Being the huge fan/addict that I am of Wodehouse’s ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ series, picking up the first Blandings Castle audio book (on sale no less) excited me greatly.
Suffice to say, the excitement was not very long lived. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Wodehouse could have saved the ink and removed the ‘ings’ from Blandings, as ‘bland’ just about sums the whole affair up.
Wodehouse’s charming writing style was still very much there, it just felt like it was lacking the directness of his Jeeves and Wooster works. It was more subdued in ‘Something Fresh’. The characters seemed to threaten being humerous in this rather than simply being it as in Jeeves and Wooster.
I felt the whole thing took a good long while to get going, not something I expect from a shortish work such as this. When it did get going, the characters did their level best to make sure they didn’t get going very fast.
It’s not a bad book, it’s just not to the same level of his other works. The story is fairly decent, in which an old man with a memory like a sieve accidentally pockets an expensive heirloom. The whole plot revolves around various parties either trying to get at the thing or to protect it. Fairly straight forward and easy to enjoy. I just wish it had a little more umph to it than it did.
The characters, as is usual with Wodehouse, are a good mixture of the upper classes and the service classes. There’s a few good characters that could have been wonderful and, in fairness, the whole ensemble looks promising going forward.
I’m unsure as to whether or not the rest in this series are similarly lacking the same spark that made me love Jeeves and Wooster but I’d happily give the 2nd one a go just to see. I’ll probably wait for it to be on sale, though. Just in case.
Jonathan Cecil, as ever, brought the characters to life wonderfully. He was born to read these sort of books and I’d sooner not listen to Wodehouse’ works if they were read by anyone else. Absolutely top-draw narrator.