A Pelican at Blandings – P G Wodehouse
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Arrow (2008)
I ordered this by accident just before Christmas – I’d meant to order a set of Jeeves and Wooster books to help me through the horror of the Festive Season but these arrived. It didn’t really matter because deep down I’ve always preferred Blandings to Wooster – the reason I’d ordered the Wooster books was because I thought I needed to to make more of an effort with them.
Anyway, here we are, Blandings Castle, where the sun always shines and the twentieth century seldom intrudes. This is the real deal, for despite my admiration of Timothy Spall, the TV adaptation was a grotesque parody.
You could say that the novel is also something of a parody, but in the hands of Wodehouse it avoids that pitfall and weaves a fresh story out of what is pretty standard Blandings fare. A formidable sister, an American millionaire and that renowned blister Alaric, Duke of Dunstable all conspire to make Lord Emsworth’s life a misery. At that point Gallahad Threepwood, younger brother of Emsworth, and one time member of the Pelican Club, enters the picture.
There are two plots to steal a (fake) painting, a couple of romances (one of which does not run smoothly), two imposters in the castle, an incident with the pig in the night, a certain amount of slapstick and a spot of blackmail. It takes a sure touch to navigate all that to a safe conclusion but yet again Wodehouse manages to dovetail the plot, tie up the loose ends and bring the book (the last of his Blandings novels) safely home.
I bought them to ease the pain of Christmas, but ended up reading several of them in hospital to ease the pain of various unfortunate incidents relating to cameras and tubing. It worked – they were a perfect antidote to my troubles. In fact I can’t see any circumstance that can’t be broghtened by a touch of Blanding therapy.