P.G. Wodehouse,
Uneasy Money
(D. Appleton & Co, 1916)

The plot of Uneasy Money turns on a monkey.

A shot in the night.

A premature letter.

An ill-conceived dance.

And a pair of ill-kept socks.

Oh sure, one might argue, there's more. Lord Bill Dawlish, for instance -- a pauper of a nobleman who's far too generous for his own good and his fiancee Claire Fenwick's liking. Clair, a touring actress from America, is fixated on funding, and her husband-to-be's lack of it is a source of constant frustration to her.

So Bill decides to go to America, conceal his nobility and find a job. Clair, at the same time, but entirely separately and without any knowledge of Bill's journey, also goes to America, where she meets a wealthy automobile manufacturer named Pickering. Romance -- or at least a blend of infatuation and greed -- ensues.

Meanwhile, Bill finds that he's inherited a million pounds from an eccentric American golfer whom he once helped with an errant drive. The grateful old man has entirely stiffed his niece and nephew, however, and Bill's sense of fair play sends him at once to Long Island to make things right.

Once he gets to the farm where the niece, Elizabeth Boyd, raises bees, things really start turning.

P.G. Wodehouse has been a revelation to me, a new discovery that has dominated my reading time in recent weeks. While these reviews certainly are not timely -- the books were published, after all, close to a century ago -- I can only hope more people are intrigued enough to pick up some of his works.

This self-contained story is another of his delectable tales involving fascinating characters, intricate plot twists and an exquisite command of the English tongue. I recommend it highly, strongly and without reservation.

But still, I feel bad for the monkey.

book review by
Tom Knapp

2 July 2011

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