In Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939) Lord Emsworth, weighed down in a sea
of troubles (the Duke of Dunstable being the worst), had enlisted Lord
Ickenham's help in taking arms against them. Now, with remarried Connie
back for the summer and the disgusting Duke once more self-invited, Lord
Emsworth summons his brother Galahad to his aid. Galahad is more and more
doubling his part with Lord Ickenham these days: spreading sweetness and
light; mornings in the hammock; the great sponge in the bath (Lord
Ickenham's was 'Joyeuse', Gally's is not named); blackmail; telling the
tale; godsons; unsundering young hearts; ringing in impostors.
The Duke has brought his pretty niece Linda with him and of course John
Halliday, her ex-fianc? (there had been a flaming 'take back your ring'
row), is one of Gally's godsons. And sundered hearts make Gally sick, so
he'll have to bring Linda and John together again. For instance, why, when
the call comes, shouldn't John come to the castle as Sir Roderick Glossop's
junior partner, to keep an eye on the suspected pottiness of Lord Emsworth?
Meanwhile there's this American heiress (is she an heiress?) Vanessa Polk
that Lady Constance met on the boat. And Wilbur Trout, much-married
American playboy. And the painting (is it a forgery?) of the reclining nude
that the Duke has bought, brought with him and hung in the gallery. It's up
to Gally to find answers to all these problems. He does.
You learn in this book that the oak staircase at the castle is slippery.
And if you're trying to work out what rooms were on which floor of the
castle, and how to get on to the roof over the semi-detached west wing,
this is required reading. It leaves even architects as baffled as ever.
Remember, Wodehouse, after years of living in America, could make 'first
floor' mean the ground floor. And so on up. Or not.
Wodehouse was eighty-eight when this book was published. The writing is now
thin and tediously stretched in places. The ribs of the plot often stare
out gauntly with too little flesh on them. Just for a laugh poor Lord
Emsworth falls face down into the Empress's sty in the small hours in
dressing gown and pyjamas. Many of Gally's old Pelican stories are
repeated, often verbatim, as though from notebooks. But there are some
lovely plums in the duff still.
Source: Richard Usborne. Plum Sauce. A P G Wodehouse Companion.