The Wodehouses had lived in France, on and off, for about six years. This
is the most French of the novels. It is set mostly in the holiday resort of
Roville. Jeff, the hero, is Jefferson Comte d'Escrignon, now a writer. He
had been in the Resistance. His mother had been American. He has fallen in
love at first sight with American Terry Trent, but he won't court her
because he isn't rich and he thinks she is. (Actually she and her sister
are pretending to be a rich girl and her maid.) Jeff's father, Marquis de
Maufringneuse and a lot more, has had two American wives. He is a sort of
feckless Uncle Fred/Ukridge/Mr Micawber combined with Jill (the Reckless)'s
Uncle Chris and Lord Hoddesdon. He sponges cheerfully on his son, Jeff. He
is called 'Old Nick' and his best friend is a prince, an old reprobate with
three breach of promise cases against him.
This novel is distinctly related to an idea Guy Bolton sold to Hollywood,
of three attractive sisters (in this case, Terry, Josephine and Kate, who
are running a hens-and-bees farm on Long Island) setting out to blow a
small legacy and find husbands and happiness.
If Wodehouse is trying to say something in this novel (and he stoutly
denied that he ever had a message), it is that the fringes of the French
nobility are just as lunatic as the English ditto; and perhaps not only the
Source: Richard Usborne. Plum Sauce. A P G Wodehouse Companion.