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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Potty Doings at Blandings Castle, December 28, 2004
This review is from: Leave it to Psmith (Wodehouse, P. G. Collector's Wodehouse.) (Hardcover)
Leave It to Psmith (pronounced "Smith") is the first P.G. Wodehouse novel about Blandings Castle and its inmates, Clarence, ninth earl of Emsworth, his daunting sister, Lady Constance Keeble and Beach, the butler. Fans of later Blandings Castle tales will be a little puzzled by this one. Clarence is obsessed with flowers and gardening rather than pigs. The Empress of Blandings is nowhere in sight. And the main plot catalyst is Psmith, that remarkable public school character from the early Wodehouse novels, rather than Galahad Threepwood or Uncle Fred.

Although this is not the best of the Blandings Castle tales, it has one of the best plots and does an effective job of introducing the ongoing characters and jokes. The interrelationships of the characters in the past and present are remarkable for their complexity and present lots of deja vu scenes.

Psmith and Clarence are two of Wodehouse's finest creations and the central joy of this book is found in their extended interactions.

As usual, love and money are at the bottom of the plot. Psmith cannot bear to be in the fish business any longer and advertises that he will do anything -- even commit a crime -- to get a change of pace. Clarence's son, Freddie Threepwood, contacts Psmith and asks him to help with an inside-the-family theft of his aunt's necklace. Although his uncle is rolling in the stuff, Lady Constance keeps him on a short leash. Freddie's uncle will give her another necklace like the one that's "stolen" and use the money to help Freddie and his uncle's step-daughter Phyllis. Freddie needs the money to attract a bride and Phyllis needs to help her new husband get a start on life.

Like the other Blandings Castle stories, the castle is full of imposters. Psmith himself is posing as a poet, but is constantly being unmasked by those who choose to keep his secret for a time.

Complications come when Psmith finds himself falling in love with a young woman whom he spies outside the Drones Club needing an umbrella. The young woman turns out to be on her way to Blandings Castle as well. It also turns out that Freddie has been proposing to her, but hasn't worn her down yet. Who will win the fair maiden?

The book has some of the funniest scenes in it that you can imagine involving flower pots. It's an inspired beginning to the many jokes that follow in later books about potty people residing at Blandings Castle.

Capital. Capital. Capital.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 7, 2011 4:14:28 PM PDT
Leah Ray says:
A wonderful review of this charming novel, but I must point out that Leave It to Psmith is not the first Blandings Castle novel; Something Fresh was published in 1915, eight years prior to Psmith's sojourn with Lord Emsworth.
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Donald Mitchell
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