goodreads tells me i've now read seventeen wodehouse books, with sixteen of those being novels and short stories -- the other is a wonderful collection i can only highly recommend, called [b:Wodehouse On Wodehouse|1232375|Wodehouse On Wodehouse|P.G. Wodehouse|/assets/nocover/60x80.png|1220976] that is part memoir of his time writing for musical theatre, and partly selected letters, and also part sort-of autobiography. so it should be obvious that i love a good wodehouse novel. but i'm coming to terms that i have certain favourites and that wodehouse has a cast of archetypes for his fiction, and depending on which set you read first, you might take on a preference. i definitely have: it's jeeves and wooster that i love best though there are individual stories with many of the characters, the drones, mr. mulliner, uncle fred in particular, that i also adore. i've thought about wodehouse characters, trying to slot them into the various archetypes he uses and trying to determine the overlap and traits, and from them, my own predilections.
wodehouse has a template and it's a mistake to focus on it: his comic archetypes and his classical structure serves its purpose as a springboard for wodehouse's pen, dripping with outrageously clever language, and dialogue, his remarkable facility with them might remind us again of that highly successful career in musical theatre, mostly writing the lyrics to guy bolton's book. they collaborated in a fruitful partnership of hits with composer jerome kern. above all, he has a truly genius comedic wit...and sometimes it hits one harder than others, in some books more so than others. wodehouse fans all have their favourites. and so, i must make it clear that while i'm invariably in wodehouse's corner, he's at a disadvantage here with me because i'm not with jeeves and wooster.
in this novel, summer lightning, we are at blandings castle, with clarence, lord emsworth who is a fine an old mad lord as one could ever wish for, pig-happy and free of all cares except those that are visited on him by his fussy family. his nephew, ronnie fish (son to his sister, julia) stirs up trouble by wanting to marry a showgirl. lord emsworth is largely unaware of this for the most part while they, and the rest of his satellites (his bossy sisters, his brother, a jeeves-like sage aptly named galahad who is writing infamous memoirs, his scheming secretaries (former and current), his butler, his daughter, the much maligned neighbour/slash pig competition competitor all conspire around him. shenanigans ensue, and they are funny but a little... long for me. and then to find the action continued in the follow-up summer lightning, which further extends the story of the romance of ronnie and his show girl sue, and also resolving the other major plotline revolving around the memoirs that galahad's been writing that -- dash it all -- might tarnish the reputations of several members of the british aristocracy who also serve as family friends and acquaintances. again. the same story in essentials. and in short, too long. i may have perhaps liked them better had i not read them back-to-back. but they do feel like one really, really long novel to me. and perhaps it's just not as absurd as i like my wodehouse. certainly, i know i seem contradictory: i *just* said one had to go with the structure but there's too much of it, and just not enough i find funny here or enough wodehouse flourish to make me forget.
and beyond that, i miss jeeve's ability to bring order to the chaos, and i miss bertie's ability to bungle it so jeeves has to do it all over again -- as they did in a similarly-themed (young lovers, scandalous memoirs) short story called "jeeves takes charge" that introduced the two characters, which i read, incidentally, on first delving into wodehouse books in earnest.. preference established. it's never out-and-out boring and a middling wodehouse is still better than many. this one just isn't a favourite.