Book Review : Imperial Blandings - P.G.Wodehouse  

Posted by CK in , ,

So, after almost 2 odd months of reading, I've finally completed my first P.G.Wodehouse book, Imperial Blandings. Now, it's only thanks to the insistence of one person (thanks VC :) ) that I even started reading Wodehouse. And I have to say that this book is absolutely hilarious.

Very few writers have made me laugh out loud while I read. Dave Barry is one, Bill Bryson is another and now, Wodehouse is right there with them.

I know he's a world famous humorist but I have no idea why I haven't read him till now. The reason it took me 2 long months to finish this book is because I only got time to read it on the bus on the way to work or during lunch breaks.

Blandings Castle and its inhabitants, Lord Emsworth, the 9th Earl of Emsworth (known far and wide for his absent-mindedness) and his family and the situations that arise from their misadventures are the basis of the three stories that make up Imperial Blandings. The three stories included herein are Full Moon, Pigs Have Wings and Service with a smile. 

If you're wondering about the lovely, obese pig on the cover, she is the Empress of Blandings, the apple of Lord Emsworth's eye and "the winner of many prizes in the "Fat Pigs" class at the local Shropshire Agricultural Show." She is also a recurring plot device involving some character trying to kidnap her for various purposes. Clarence Threepwood, our Lord in question also has nine sisters, all of whom look like the "daughters of a hundred Earls" except for Hermoine who looks like a cook and are all formidable forces of nature who stand in the way of love. That means anytime a daughter of high society is about to elope with a person "below her class" or with no money, they are immediately packed away to Blandings Castle where they mope and keep considering various ways of ending their misery like "drowning in the lake" or cleaning the Earl's study.

To their rescue comes Galahad "Gally" Threepwood, the Lord's younger brother who has "never made the mistake of going to bed before three a.m." and is known to never touch a non-alcoholic beverage if there is alcohol to be had. He is the hero in the first two stories, Full Moon & Pigs have wings. Another savior is Lord Ickenham who, like Gally is known to have a weakness for young love and solving problems if he's just given the time to think about it. He's the hero of our third story.

Wodehouse has an amazingly dry sense of humor and the butt of most of his jokes are the upper-class British Lords, Earls and Dukes with the black sheep of the family always providing the solutions, mostly by confusing all involved with devious and hilarious plots. Most stories have two underlying themes. Someone always wants the Empress, to kidnap her or to have her lose the "Fat Pigs Competition". The second is unrealized love. with either a daughter of the house or some rich friend being sent to Blandings Castle because she's made the mistake of falling in love with someone without so much as a penny to their name. Now, the Aunts are the main antagonists always trying to marry them off to rich suitors and it is up to Gally or Ickenham to save the day.

Now, Blandings Castle serves as the setting for 11 novels and 9 short stories of which I've only read three. But there's hardly anything that's going to stop me from going out and reading the remaining books.

And here, for your pleasure are some quotes from P.G.Wodehouse:

“Unlike the male codfish which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all, the British aristocracy is apt to look with a somewhat jaundiced eye on its younger sons.”

 “She fitted into my biggest armchair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing armchairs tight about the hips that season.”

"At the age of eleven or thereabouts women acquire a poise and an ability to handle difficult situations which a man, if he is lucky, manages to achieve somewhere in the later seventies."
Millicent reached for a cup.
'Cream and sugar, Uncle Gally?'
He stopped her with a gesture of shocked loathing.
'You know I never drink tea. Too much respect for my inside. Don't tell me you are ruining your inside with that poison.'
'Sorry, Uncle Gally. I like it.'
'You be careful,' urged the Hon. Galahad, who was fond of his niece and did not like to see her falling into bad habits. 'You be very careful how you fool about with that stuff. Did I ever tell you about poor Buffy Struggles back in 'ninety-three? Some misguided person lured poor old Buffy into one of those temperance lectures illustrated with colored slides, and he called on me next day ashen, poor old chap – ashen. "Gally," he said. "What would you say the procedure was when a fellow wants to buy tea? How would a fellow set about it?" "Tea?" I said. "What do you want tea for?" "To drink," said Buffy. "Pull yourself together, dear boy," I said. "You're talking wildly. You can't drink tea. Have a brandy-and-soda." "No more alcohol for me," said Buffy. "Look what it does to the common earthworm." "But you're not a common earthworm," I said, putting my finger on the flaw in his argument right away. "I dashed soon shall be if I go on drinking alcohol," said Buffy. Well, I begged him with tears in my eyes not to do anything rash, but I couldn't move him. He ordered in ten pounds of the muck and was dead inside the year.'
'Good heavens! Really?'
The Hon. Galahad nodded impressively.
'Dead as a door-nail. Got run over by a hansom cab, poor dear old chap, as he was crossing Piccadilly. You'll find the story in my book.'

"Recipe for Christmas Rum Cake

1 or 2 quarts rum
1 cup butter
1 tsp. sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups dried assorted fruit
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups chopped English walnuts

"Before you start, sample the rum to check for quality. Good, isn't it? Now select a large mixing bowl, measuring cup, etc. Check the rum again. It must be just right. Be sure the rum is of the highest quality. Pour one cup of rum into a glass and drink it as fast as you can. Repeat. With an electric mixer, beat one cup butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 seaspoon of tugar and beat again. Meanwhile, make sure the rum teh absolutely highest quality. Sample another cup. Open second quart as necessary. Add 2 orge laggs, 2 cups of fried druit and beat untill high. Sample the rum again, checking for toncisticity. Next sift 3 cups of baking powder, a pinch of rum, a seaspoon of toda, and a cup of pepper. Or maybe salt. Sample some more. Sift ¾ pint of lemon juice. Fold in schopped butter and strained chups. Add bablespoon of brown gugar, or whatever color you have. Mix mell. Grease oven and turn cake pan to 350 gredees and rake until poothtick comes out crean."

—Author Unknown;
maybe Omar Khayyám,
or Sir Galahad Threepwood

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at Tuesday, December 08, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Don't miss out on the jeeves novels of P.G.Wodehouse.

Jeeves is Wodehouse's most famous character. Infact, Reginald Jeeves is a fictional character in the short stories and novels of P. G. Wodehouse, being the "gentleman's personal gentleman" (valet).

... And don't miss out on Ruskin Bond's novels and novellas. His Rusty series, short stories and the series which contains characters like: Uncle Ken, Miss Bun, the author's slightly eccentric grandfather and Bond himself.

They are truly timeless...

December 8, 2009 at 6:07 PM

Yeah, that's my next target. I'm hooked onto Wodehouse and shall try and read as much of him as possible. I've heard plenty about Jeeves.

I've read a little Bond as a kid but can't remember much. Shall try to look into that as well. :)

December 8, 2009 at 7:30 PM

What's babelspoon and orge eggs and schopped butter? :D

December 9, 2009 at 11:46 AM

"Omar Khayyam" is drunk after sampling the rum 15 times. :)

December 9, 2009 at 7:42 PM

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