By bringing together one of the most subversive of his characters with one of his most sedate country retreats Wodehouse creates here an explosive mix that will soon have flower pots flying at the castle s windows, serious people tumbling down staircases in the middle of the night, precious necklaces doing dissapearing acts, stern Aunts putting their foot down, mistaken identities by the bucket and last, but not least, marriage proposals and changes of the heart Freddie Threepwood, one of the clueless aristocrats in the book, exclaims at one point I wish life was a bit like the movies His wish is granted by the author, who puts the screw in screwball once again.
So, how exactly did Psmith manage to land at Blandings As I already mentioned, it has to do with fish and with the redistribution of wealth in the form of umbrellas from rich gentlemen to young ladies in distress There s also an ambitiously creative curriculum vitae that Psmith submits to the newspapers in the hope of landing a job fitted to his aspirations in lifeLeave it to Psmith Psmith Will Help YouPsmith Is Ready For AnythingDO YOU WANT Someone To Manage Your Affairs Someone To Handle Your Business Someone To Take The Dog For A Run Someone To Assassinate Your Aunt PSMITH WILL DO ITCRIME NOT OBJECTED TOWhatever Job You Have To Offer Provided It Has Nothing To Do With Fish Leave it to Psmith This announcement comes to the attention of Freddy Threepwood, who is under curfew at Blandings after incurring heavy debts at the racing track Freddy needs somebody to steal his aunts necklace and offers the job to Psmith Psmith has his own reasons to accept, as his heart is stolen by a young lady headed for the same old pile of masonryI am a plain, blunt, rugged man, above the softer emotions as a general thing, but I frankly confess that she stirred a chord in me which is not often stirred She thrilled my battered old heart, Comrade Walderwick There is no other word Thrilled it Aided by Lord Emsworth s eyesight problems and his tendency to get distracted when he starts to talk at length about his beloved garden, Psmith manages to get invited for a visit, impersonating an American poet Once there, he dedicates his life almost exclusively to the pursuit of the lovely Eve Halliday, the young lady in need of an umbrella in an earlier chapter I will not go into all the complications that ensure, other than to mention that misunderstandings and pratfalls and dastardly acts come in rapid succesion, barely leaving the reader time to catch his breath before a fresh screwball assault Wodehouse is for me a byword for laughter therapy, offering the kind of novel that is almost impossible to read in public places on account of incontrollable guffaws and chuckles The ingredients of his recipes a pastoral setting an opulent Arcadia where misery or poverty dare not enter or are quickly dealt with, a place that most probably never existed outside the writer s imagination, but one that serves well as a panacea for weary souls The popularity of Wodehouse is not much different from that of the musicals and posh comedies that dominated the box office during the Great Depression Here s how a place like this is described in the novelMarket Blandings had a comforting air of having been exactly the same for centuries Troubles might vex the generations it housed, but they did not worry that lichened church with its sturdy four square tower, nor those red roofed shops, not the age old inns whose second storeys bulged so comfortably out over the pavementsyoung people in love drama is often created by the obstacles put on the path to happiness by grumpy aunts or tight fisted Uncles, by mistaken identities or misdirected affections The fact that these stories always have a happy ending relieve the reader of anxiety about the outcome, and allow him her to relax and enjoy the rideAlone Psmith looked at her, astonished When you have the chance of being with me This is a strange atitudea feast of words, witty observations and elaborately constructed phrases that are always a delight to follow thorugh to their logical and hilarious conclusion I rarely use a dictionary nowadays when I am reading a novel in English, preferring to extract meaning from context when I come upon unfamiliar words, but in the case of Wodehouse I don t want to miss a thing, so I happily look up words like solecism a phrase that trespasses the rules of grammar cavilled made petty or unnecessary objections Final words one of the best novels from the author I have read so far To use Wodehouse own form of praise, he came up in an earlier book with the bee s knees , the fourth Psmith adventure can be described as Well, if this ain t the cat s whiskers and, You re the snake s eyebrows and, You re the oyster s eye tooth Why oh why did I wait to read one of Wodehouse s Psmiths Psmith is a character that resides somewhere between Wooster and Jeeves in temperament and intellect He s overly confident, but he s got a bit of the old grey matter to back it up Sometimes he s a little too sure of himself and takes one step too far, too fast However, Psmith is clever enough to extract himself from the soup before he sinks in too deep The setting is good old Blandings Castle So, while Psmith was an unfamiliar character, I was quite familiar with Blandings and its inmates from numerous other Wodehouse books I d try to explain the plot, but it would only confuse me further Basically, we have the usual misunderstandings and deception Thievery, love, thievery in the name of love, it s all there The various characters have their desires and foibles, all of which are bouncing off one another throughout, creating havoc and mayhem in often humorous ways.
While not my favorite of Wodehouse s books, Leave it to Psmith ranks right up there This was a delightful book, quintessential Wodehouse The hero, Psmith the p is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan , is a triumph of characterization, urbane, resilient, clever, utterly unflappable, altogether unlike Bertie Wooster perhaps somewhat closer to Jeeves, though not a valet , from the same pen I believe that this is only one of a series of novels PFW wrote featuring Psmith, and I would love to read.
I struggle to understand and describe what makes Wodehouse such a unique author His worlds are unreal and idealistic, crises are crises of only the most modest variety, everything always ends perfectly, all is superficial, droll, and light and ephemeral as fluff, dandelions in the wind Other authors write escapist literature but seldom of such an amusing and pleasing kind, there being no pretense to its being anything else, no deeper meanings, no hidden agendas What you read is what you get, simply to be savored, to be relished Enjoy Reading P G Wodehouse can dispel the clouds, bring tulips into bloom in the dead of winter, make adorable putti with parchment scrolls fly around your head, and elicit a hardy laugh at all times If you have never read Wodehouse, I am deeply sorry for you.
Leave it to Psmith is not the best of his novels, but it is as good a place to start exploring his inexhaustible array of country houses, eccentric gentry, American gunmen and their molls, deranged poetesses, rank impostors, hateful and efficient male secretaries, and wayward Scottish gardeners Not to mention the lovely popsies like Eve Halliday and, yes, all the down at heels young men, those free young spirits who had chafed at the prospect of being herded into the drawing room on the eventful night to listen to Psmith s reading of Song of Squalor As far as the Reggies, Berties, Claudes, and Archies at that moment enjoying Lord Emsworth s hospitality were concerned the thing i.
, the theft of a necklace was top hole, priceless, and indisputably what the doctor ordered They spent a great deal of their time going from one country house to another, and as a rule found the routine a little monotonous A happening like that of the previous night gave a splendid zip to rural life And when they reflected that, right on top of this binge, there was coming the County Ball, it seemed to them that God was in His heaven and all right with the world They stuck cigarettes in long holders, and collected in groups, chattering like starlings.
If the wacky characters don t get you, there is that wonderfully arresting use of the English language, which will have you guffawing in the library For instance You re the sort of dumb Isaac that couldn t find a bass drum in a telephone booth Or, even better A depressing musty scent pervaded the place, as if a cheese had recently died there in painful circumstances Then there is that not unpleasant emptiness which is the silent luncheon gong of the soul One character, the obnoxious but efficient Baxter, staring through his spectacles, often gave people the impression of possessing an eye that could pierce six inches of harveyized steel and stick out the other side You may not know any than I do what is harveyized steel, but you can no doubt appreciate that the English language is being given an intensive workout.
Most of the action takes place at Blandings Castle near Market Blandings, where Lord Emsworth is deeply involved in raising prizewinning flowers If you know your Wodehouse, you will note that I have not mentioned the Empress of Blandings, that prize pig which will in future Blandings novels take up all of Lord Emsworth s considerable devotions But, in 1924, when Leave it to Psmith was written, Emsworth had not yet taken this little piggy to market.
Oh, hell, what can I say I was intensely amused, as I always am when reading Wodehouse s best efforts, such as this novel.
Wodehouse at his hilarious, genius best The weaving of the plot, the density of the action, the humorous use of quotations, the whole lovely farce are remarkable I do love Psmith This was the 1st Wodehouse book I read at the ripe age of 14 it made a lasting impression, though now I have P.
W books to compare, I would say this is not his funniest.
Still, very much enjoyed it again.
In trying to explain to my husband exactly why I find Wodehouse so laugh out loud funny, I used this passage One uses the verb descend advisedly, for what is required is some word suggesting instantaneous activity About Baxter s progress from the second floor to the first there was nothing halting or hesitating He, so to speak, did it now This is a brilliant example of Wodehouse s ability to put it just so, how can you explain this any better Planting his food firmly on a golf ball which the Hon Freddie Threepwood, who had been practising putting in the corridor before retiring to bed, had left in his casual fashion just where the steps began, he took the entire stiarcase in one majestic, volplanning sweep This is an excellent example of Wodehouse s exquisite characterization I was in tears, tears, imagining that Hon gentleman, able to see perfectly his plan to practice putting near the stairs then wandering off absentmindedly He came to rest with a squattering thud on the lower landing, and for a moment or two the fever of the chase left him Fever of the chase Slays me As astute readers of Wodehouse will no doubt know, Baxter always Suspects but when oh when will he ever stop rushing downstairs in the dark to try to catch the criminal It always ends badly At least there was no tongue involved in this episode.
My husband did not quite get it But Wodehouse is surely one of the finest comic minds of our time or any time at all Genius.
After a long gap of a decade or so, delving into the world of Wodehouse again And boy, aren t I glad that I chose this book I love PSmith, I love lord Emsworth, and seeing the two meet each other under hilarious circumstances was heavenly Freddie too was his usual charming self I thoroughly enjoyed this repeat read, perhaps for the third or fourth time, and I advocate this one as a pickmeup for anyone feeling a bit low.