Thursday, November 27, 2008

Damsel in Distress, P.G. Wodehouse

Posted by lea at 4:28 PM
At the risk of sounding clichéd, the first words that spring to mind are 'madcap antics' and 'comic caper'. P.G. Wodehouse is a master of these elements and he's right at home in Damsel in Distress. There are - as usual with Wodehouse - budding romances, mistaken identities, clever butlers, evil aunts and, of course, a whole array of shenanigans in between. What's a shenanigan? Who knows exactly, but this book's got them in spades.

The plot begins when Lady Maud Marshmoreton travels secretly to London to meet the unsuitable suitor she's unfortunately fallen in love with. Spotted by her aristocratic brother Lord Belpher (a fat bosh if ever there was one), she dives into a taxi occupied by American composer George Bevan, whose chilvalry is as spontaneous as his falling in love with her. To add to the complications, her pompous and overbearing aunt, Lady Caroline, is determined to marry her off to her own highly suitable stepson Reggie, a vacuous young gent who is smitten by the sight of Alice Faraday, secretary to Maud's father, Lord Marshmoreton.

P.G. Wodehouse writes English comedy-of-manners like Michelangelo painted. It's an art form that dominates the field - noone even comes close. As a huge fan of his most popular Jeeves and Wooster series, I really enjoyed Damsel in Distress, with the slight exception of some of the dialogue. Lady Maud Marshmoreton, the damsel of the title, tends to be a little too clever in her speeches, which can be a bit annoying at times, but other than that, it's a great read - still light and funny after all these years (first published 1919).

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