22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2001
The first half of the book, which is devoted to Blandings Castle and Lord Emsworth, is a sheer joy to read (5 stars!). The final chapter of the first half is the oft-anthologized short story "Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend," an exquisite tale of how the permanently befuddled old man befriends a young lass from London who is summering in the countryside, and together the two of them set the world straight. In fact, that's just what the Emsworth stories are always about: People thrown together, each having his/her own set of priorities, and how they get what they want by practicing "You scratch my back, I scratch yours." Communicating over the din of one another's priorities is a constant source of humor, the unexpected combination of actions and outcomes is another, and the whole reveals Wodehouse's virtuosic gift for storytelling. The Emsworth stories are hard to beat.
Not so the Mulliner stories that make up the second half of the book (3 stars). Here we have a set of stories with improbable plots about Hollywood in the early talkies days. They rely too much on myths about tons of money floating around Hollywod and the incompetent people who wield all this wealth. Though they were probably pretty well received when they first came out, by a naïve public newly fascinated with Hollywood, they are now rather dated and sometimes too silly to be funny. Plus, Wodehouse shares with Shute and Waugh that singular inability of many an English writer to capture and replicate American-ese. Well, they are not horrible stories; simply relatively uninteresting. You can stop with the last Emsworth story in this book and not miss a thing, which is what I recommend.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Blandings Castle is an unexpected mix of short stories. After P.G. Wodehouse began to weave his novels about Clarence, Ninth Earl of Emsworth, and his improbable family and friends into a series of hilarious stories, he realized that he needed to fill in a gap. He warns that the first six stories in this collection constitute "the short snorts in between the solid orgies." Specifically, these stories tell us about happenings between Leave It to Psmith and Summer Lightning.
You find out more about why Clarence doesn't like to have his son, the Honorable Freddie around. You also learn about how the Empress of Blandings won her first Fat Pigs competition. The Custody of the Pumpkin shows Clarence as a plant-focused competitor before he became a pig-focused one. Mr. Wodehouse also lets us know how Freddie came to marry his wealthy wife and join the dog biscuit business in the States. Some of these stories have plots that could have been turned into novels, which makes the short stories all the better. The most delicious of the stories is a sweet tale of Clarence taking it upon himself to do the right thing in Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend.
The seventh tale is a typical Wodehouse country hullabaloo as Bobbie Wickham manipulates all involved to her advantage in dispatching an unwelcome suitor . . . playing the role for herself the Jeeves and Gally usually play in resolving romantic mishaps. It's clever and ever so liberated.
In the last five stories, P.G. Wodehouse unleashes his dissatisfaction with the Hollywood studios into acid satires of moguls and their foibles. For those who know the Hollywood of those days, these tales are almost biographical. Like the Canterbury Tales, there's a delightful element of exaggeration that makes the humor ever so much more tangy. If you dislike phonies, incompetents and those who are out for only themselves, you'll love these stories. If you don't like biting satire, skip these stories. You'll like the earlier seven.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Full Moon is one of the better Blandings Castle episodes and is graced by a delightful set of illustrations by Paul Galdone that increase the fun.
When there's a young American millionaire in the woods, the British nobility are apt to trot out their finest-looking, young unmarried women. In the latest generation, that's Veronica Wedge, daughter of Lady Hermione Wedge who is the sister to Clarence, ninth Earl of Emsworth. What Veronica offers in beauty, though, is more than lost in brainpower. So one needs a very shallow, very rich American for her. But unexpected difficulties arise because Freddie Threepwood, Clarence's not-too-bright son, is in charge of squiring Tipton Plimsoll, the American millionaire, around.
Tipton has been on a toot. He's just come into his money and seems dedicated to drinking it up. But some red spots lead him to wonder if he's overdoing it. A trip to the doctor's office warns him that seeing spectres could be next. That observation becomes the basis of a running gag as Plimsoll comes to regard another young lover, Bill Lister, as a spectre whenever Plimsoll sees Lister. Frightened by Lister, Plimsoll decides to go to Blandings to take the cure for his alcoholism . . . and falls madly for Veronica Wedge.
A new problem arises though when Plimsoll perceives that Veronica and Freddie are very friendly. Assuming the worst, Plimsoll stifles his feelings and wanders around depressed.
There's a second romance that needs help. Bill Lister finds himself stood up at the registry office where his awaited his bridge to be, Prudence Garland. Prudence has been bundled off to Blandings Castle by her mother, Dora, also one of Clarence's sisters so that Hermione can keep the young suitor at bay. Prudence becomes annoyed that Bill won't give up on painting in order to run an inn near Oxford. And even if he gives up on painting, they still need 700 pounds to fix the old place up.
Into the breach comes Galahad Threepwood who wants all the young lovers to be happy. In the process, he introduces Bill Lister into Blandings Castle on three occasions under false colors and helps overcome Plimsoll's wavering.
Along the way, there's enough good fun and goofiness to amuse anyone.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2000
The title's a little misleading; this is a set of 12 stories, and only the first six are at Blandings Castle. I'm a particular Blandings Castle fan -- they're my favorite Wodehouse -- so I was a little disappointed in this one. But, hey, there ARE six fairly good Blandings Castle stories here. Then again, I recommend the novels over the short stories; they're much more fun and engaging. The stories are like eating one M&M and not having any more in the bag. Not enough THERE there. The novels have more time for P.G. to do what he's best at -- weaving tangled plot lines and setting up slapstick.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2009
Full Moon is Wodehouse at his fullest. You know it right from the start, as "the refined moon...shone on turret and battlement" of Blandings Castle and all who dwell within. They're here in force, the inimitable Wodehouse gallery, Lady Hermione, "her outstandingly beautiful daughter...with the brains of a peahen," Vee, and her cantankerous father, Colonel Wedge. A little later, to our exquisite relief, comic and emotional, the impious but Hon. Galahad, Gally, Threepwood, brother to the Lord of the Manor, Clarence, makes his welcome appearance to spread sweetness and light and chaos in the cause of young love.
Clarence's underappreciated son Freddie arrives from America with a stern commission to sell dog food, a task for which he is ably suited. There's bulky, bumbling Bill Lister, Blister to you, whose face sends newly minted millionaire Tipton Plimsoll, Freddie's American friend, into a miasma of terror every time he spots it, the face, that is, because he believes it is a spectral admonition to cease his, Tipton's, inebriate ways. By the way, Freddie's happily married while Tippy wants to be so with Vee, a result pleasing to all and yet well out of reach until the last few pages, and Blister wants to be so with lovely Prudence, a result pleasing to no one and yet well out of reach until the very last page.
Gally saves several days with ingenious schemes involving prize pigs in bedrooms and bilious beards on Blisters, and all the plots untwist and, as Gally puts it, "Everybody happy, loving young hearts united, nothing to worry about."
This Blanding novel stands out with brilliant, often hilarious turns of phrase peppering every page; Wodehouse's command of his beloved mother tongue was never so rife. The characterizations too are sharper than usual, especially the men's. This success is crucial since Freddie, Blister, and Tipton could easily have been rendered in one bland voice under a less miraculous pen. The same could be said of Col. Wedge, the Hon. Gally, and Lord Emsworth.
Quibbles? Sure. Gally too often finds himself reminded of a old chum from his ancient past, and the girls, while fun and winsome as always, are not defined as well as the boys. We know from characters like the indomitable Sally that the master is master indeed of young women whose pluck and sass can win over the coldest heart. The reader always awaits a woman of that caliber, and none is quite forthcoming here.
Still, a five-star book, since I interrupted my wife's reading with my laughter every time we sat down with our respective novels, only one of which was funny, though it was funny enough for both.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2008
This is one of my favourite Wodehouse books!
Wodehouse is a wonderful tonic at any time; I always feel better after a trip to Blandings. Partly is it the wonderful Lord Emsworth's reverence for the Empress and the Zen-like peace and contentment he finds at her side. The pace of this story was zippy, the dialogue top drawer, and the characters particular and engaging as always.
I'd like a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan: "Read more Wodehouse!"
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Reading P. G. Wodehouse is always a delight, and I love the six Blandings stories in "Blandings Castle And Elsewhere", particularly relishing "The Custody of the Pumpkin." I was likewise naturally fond of "Pig-Hoo-O-O-O-Ey!," "Company For Gertrude," and "Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend." Interestingly these stories (along with "The Go-Getter") make up two thirds of season one of the recent "Blandings" television series. I was interested, incidentally, to see how the producers edited and combined the various stories to produce a highly satisfactory show, though nothing is as wry and amusing as the original Wodehouse version. I am constantly amused at the odd combinations of eccentric characters that Wodehouse brings to life at Blandings Castle, and I can't imagine a more satisfying collection of short fiction.
After the six Blandings installments, there is a Bobbie Wickham story, "Mr. Potter Takes a Rest Cure," which I also found deeply amusing and hilarious as the protagonist manipulates a cast of oddball characters in her own best interests with numerous peculiar twists and detours of all sorts along the way. The remaining five stories from "The Mulliners of Hollywood" series are interestingly written satirical pieces about the phoniness of Hollywood: I particularly liked the concepts of the "Nodder" (a person who nods appreciatively at the ideas of a studio boss,) and touches of whimsy such as the concept of "sandwiches of fate." I gave the collection four stars overall because while I love Wodehouse and Blandings in particular, I found the Mulliners stories not as enduringly funny, though if you prize satire you will likely adore them. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed all the stories but for my money no stories can possibly surpass the Blandings tales chronicling Clarence, the Ninth Earl of Emsworth and his prize pig, The Empress.
First, I have to admit that the title of this short story collection is misleading. You might think from the title that all of the stories are about the Earl of Emsworth (whose home is Blandings Castle). In fact, only 6 of the 12 stories are about the doings at Blandings; there is one Bobbie Wickham story and five Mulliner stories, all dealing with Hollywood. The Blandings stories are clearly a cut above the other six and this book would have been even better (better than five stars??) had all of the stories been about the eccentric Earl of Emsworth. Included is "Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend," which is among my top three or four favorite Woodhouse stories. This collection was first published in 1935 and I assume the stories were written about that time. I think the 1920s and 1930s were the best decades of Wodehouse's long career and even the least of these 12 stories -- probably the Bobbie Wickham story -- is very good.
Although one of the other reviewers is quite critical of the five Mulliner/Hollywood stories, I think they are actually quite good. Wodehouse, like many other authors, spent time in Hollywood during this period. He didn't produce much and considered himself vastly overpaid for his meager output. Like many others in his situation he was taken aback by the profligacy of the studios in throwing enormous amounts of money employing multiple writers to work on a single screenplay, with many of the writers -- like Wodehouse himself -- having only a vague idea of what screenplay writing was all about. Wodehouse's take on all of this is reflected in these stories. The last story,"The Castaways," in particular, breaks away from reality to give an almost surrealist take on the absurdities of Golden Age Hollywood. I found it to be the best of the Mulliner stories in this volume and one of the best Mulliner stories that I have read.
If you are already familiar with Wodehouse, then I'm preaching to the choir. If you are not familiar with Wodehouse, this book will be a good test of whether you will like him because it's close to, if not quite the best, he has to offer.
on April 26, 2010
Perhaps its because I am not a great fan of the short story form, but I did not find these short stories as enticing as the full length Blandings novels. Even so, the fun is there galore and I often laughed out loud at the nonsense. Let me give an example of the kind of desciptions that makes Wodehouse a genius. Lor Emsworth looking out his telescope takes interest in a cow but: "Presently, the cow's audience-appeal began to wane. It was a fine cow, as cows go, but, like so many cows, it lacked sustained dramatic interest". Curiously I though Freddie Threepwood began to sound more and more like Bertie Wooster in these short stories than I had noticed in the novels.
I did not really get into the Mulliner stories but perhaps this is because I am single mindedly focusing on Blandings at the minute.
on February 24, 2013
The Blandings tales are my favorite, even more than the Jeeves stories. There is always a misbegotten romance, usually a case of mistaken identity and, as a bonus, a really fat pig. If you like the pig, Lord Emsworth likes you. The Wodehouse style is unique, never to be duplicated. There is a smile in every paragraph. Still, it's not for everyone. It's elegant humor expressed through phrasing and writing style more than through plot twists. Try it. See if it's for you.