Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Heavy Weather: Review

Heavy Weather is the fourth book in P. G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle series and it's back to fun and games similar to that of the first book, Something New [aka Something Fresh]. This time around we're having a healthy round of "Manuscript, Manuscript, Who's Got the Manuscript?" and for those with more animal interests a second game called "Poach the Pig." While there are no impersonations in this particular outing, there are misunderstandings galore as the vague Lord Emsworth battles to prevent "mysterious strangers" or his horrible neighbor, Parsloe-Parsloe, from poaching or poisoning his prize pig, "The Empress," Lord Tilbury of Mammoth Publishing House tries desperately to get his hands on the Honorable Gally Threepwood's sensational memoirs, and the formidable sisters, Julia and Constance, use everything in their power to prevent Julia's son Ronnie Fish from "throwing his life away on that chorus girl, Sue Brown,"

The storylines constantly intermingle as Ronnie tries twice to nab the pig in order to convince Lord Emsworth to allow him to have his inheritance so he might marry the girl of his dreams, Lord Tilbury is twice accused of trying to do the Empress harm as he merely lurks in an effort to snatch the manuscript, and the manuscript passes through hands faster than a game of "Hot Potato." For you see, the Honorable Galahad Threepwood had contracted with Tilbury's publishing house to set the world afire with his revealing memoirs. According to his sister Lady Constance, the memoirs would make a laughing-stock of half the British peerage. When Constance begins to put pressure on Ronnie to dump Sue, Gally (who has a soft spot for the young lady) agrees to suppress the manuscript if the young people will be left alone. But everyone on the spot is interested in that manuscript--either to see the thing actually published or completely destroyed.

Enter Monty Bodkin who also has a girl of his dreams of his own, Gertrude. Gertrude's father will only allow Monty to marry his precious daughter if he (Monty) proves that he can hold down a job for a year. Not that he needs it--Monty is simply rolling in cash. But dear old dad believes in proving that you could support a wife if you have to. Poor Monty has already made a major blunder and lost his job with Tilbury's publishing house and has just snagged the job of Lord Emsworth's secretary. The real snag? Sue is on the spot. Monty and Sue used to be engaged and Ronnie is a dreadfully jealous bloke with a inferiority complex. Much misunderstanding about who is in love with whom follows--as well as a side interest in the manuscript. Monty becomes convinced that if he could produce the manuscript then Tilbury will take him back and let him work for a year.

It seems like only a miracle could straighten out all the tangled threads and bring a bright and sunny ending to Heavy Weather, but Wodehouse--as always--pulls it off. Another rollicking story straight from the Wodehouse comic genius. Four stars.

**As a side note: this is one my few ventures into books on tape/CD. While I thoroughly enjoyed Martin Jarvis's reading and his brilliant handling of so many voices for so many characters, I find it much harder to review something that has merely floated into my brain through the ear canal rather than having held and read the print copy. I definitely hold on to the details of the experience much better when I actually read the text.

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