- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Later Printing edition (1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140124519
- ISBN-13: 978-0140124514
- Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,107,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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French Leave Paperback – November 1, 1997
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From Library Journal
This trio (1922, 1956, and 1970, respectively) present a liberal dose of the signature Wodehouse wit and charm. Fans will enjoy his familiar spoofs of uppercrust British stuffiness and mismatched marriages, all with a happy ending.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Wodehouse is the greatest comic writer ever." --Douglas Adams
"Could a P. G. Wodehouse revival be more timely? Overlook Press, which is reissuing Wodehouse's comic novels, clearly has its finger on America's pulse…With its sumptuously bound editions, Overlook Press has done the master proud." --Los Angeles Times
"Wodehouse's novels are the very definition of British humor--bubblingly witty and dryly loony. And as Overlook continues its reissue of these absurd souffles, you can buy the work for yourself in suave hardcover volumes, the dust jackets as natty as the prose" --Entertainment Weekly
"Writers from Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell to Frank McCourt and Ben Elton have praised not only Wodehouse's comic genius but also his impeccable craftsmanship…Each element in a Wodehouse plot, however comically familiar, is irreplaceable." --Boston Globe
"The jokes in Wodehouse aren't like anyone else's jokes, because they depend less on punch lines than on how he manipulates the language--flawlessly, but with a well-honed sense of fun." --Newsweek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The above quote is from Wodehouse admitting to his friend Guy Bulton that this book was derived from a storyline already used in three movies, the original , Three Blind Mice by Mr. Bulton. (Quote from Wikipedia) Wikipedia will also note that many of the character names had been lifted from other sourses and most will recognize the use of the name Quackenbush as being from earlier Max Brother's fame. None of the earlier sources ae Wodehouse products.
The story line reads like the Anita Loos stories, How to Marry A Millionaire, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In fact I found myself humming, Two Girls from Little rock through the first 1/3 of this short story. Three ladies, having grown up in some sophistication (they speak French) but surviving as chicken farmers come into a small sum of money. The younger sisters execute a long held plan to blow their share of the money on a trip to France, where they will take turns pretending to be well off, the second sister will act as maid and before the money runs out they will have rich husbands. The older sister being more pragmatic and less pretty will chaperone the younger. In short a movie that had been made at least 5 times plus the 1960's TV show. Wodehouse lifted these ideas, again no crime in this but he did so little with them.
Wodehouse's fame as one of the funniest authors of his generation stands on his skill with dialogue. No one does goofy English school boy irony and fatuousness , better. In French Leave the conversation between father Marquis de Maufringneuse et Valerie-Moberanneand, and son, Comte d'Escrigno AKA Jeffy ; sparkles with some of best dialogue in the books. Elsewhere it ranges from mildly clever to vaguely inappropriate in the mouths of American speakers. "Hoy!" for "Hey" does not belong in the mouth of a post WWII American.
On the technical side there are issues with characters who come and go and never seem to have a purpose. The older sister is almost a wasted character. There are too obvious plot twists and so forth. However this is intended as light humorous reading. It is a short novella and is an example of PG as an older writer working a more complex situation comedy than is his usual fare. A reader new to Wodehouse may enjoy this as a reasonable introduction to a great comedic writer and a loyal fan may appreciate the odd mixture of complexity and silliness. I do not dislike French Leave, I cannot be enthusiastic.
A brief note on this edition: This book, a hardback is part of a reissue by Overlook Press. Each book is a compact hardback with a reasonable price. Some of these titles are available in Kindle editions. I will be seeking more of these books, favoring the lower priced Kindle, but savoring these nicely bound hardbacks.
French Leave is a non-saga novel (meaning no Jeeves or Uncle Fred) with very appealing characters and wonderous and hilarious misunderstandings. It is the story of three American girls and their adventures in France: a story of love at first sight, of mineral-water millionaires, of rascally French policemen, and of a breach of promise suit that never happens. And like all Wodehouse settings, France seems like Heaven on earth. Warm sunshine seems to glow from each and every page. It is almost as if Wodehouse is speaking directly to his audience saying: Wouldn't you like to be here and spend time with my friends? I think all readers of French Leave would transport themselves there in a minute.
If you've never read Wodehouse before, I cannot but strongly encourage you to join the millions who have discovered this wonderful writer. French Leave is just as good a place as any to start. Because it is a later novel (written in the mid-fifties), it will prime you for some of the even wackier masterpieces of the 20s and 30s. Read on, ladies and gentlemen, and even you may find that song lurks in the depths of your heart.