Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Fever

Spring Fever
P.G. Wodehouse
4 / 5

Published 1948

First Sentence
"Spring had come to New York, the eight-fifteen train from Great Neck had come to the Pennsylvania terminus, and G. Ellery Cobbold, that stout economic royalist, had come to his downtown office, all set to prise another wad of currency out of the common people."
Publisher's Description:
[Another] antic [novel] from comic genius, P.G. Wodehouse...Spring Fever is a light-hearted comedy involving love and various complications.

Wikipedia Description:
Spring Fever is a novel by P.G. Wodehouse, first published on May 20, 1948, in the United Kingdom by Herbert Jenkins, London and in the United States by Doubleday and Co, New York. Although not featuring any of Wodehouse's regular characters, the cast contains a typical Wodehousean selection of English aristocrats, wealthy Americans, household staff and impostors.
Dear Reader,

Well.  That Publisher's Description up there left a little bit to be desired, eh?  I couldn't find any good "official" descriptions of the book out there, so I dug up what Wikipedia had to say - it seems to help a little, I think.  Although nothing seems to be doing this book justice.  It's hilarious.  And I'd expect nothing less from Wodehouse.  The man is a comic genius.  I am constantly laughing out loud while reading his novels.  His wit and sarcasm blend well together, producing works which you just want to devour in one sitting.

The plot of the book was also what can usually be expected from Wodehouse fare: several bumbling people who are all yearning for one thing or another, and the ridiculous situations they get themselves into whilst trying to sort things out.  The main players in this book are Stanwood Cobbold (a former football player who is regularly compared to a cow or a hippo, depending on Wodehouse's mood), Augustus Robb (Stanwood's manservant, a former burglar who found his calling after a religious awakening), Mike Cardinal (a handsome and clever Hollywood type who is head-over-heels in love with a lord's daughter who will have nothing to do with him), Lord Shortlands (the aforementioned lord, who wishes to elope with the cook), his butler Spink (who is Lord Shortlands' unscrupulous rival in love), and two of the lord's daughters, sweet Terry and bossy Adela.  All of them become mixed up in each other's lives, and stumble over each other trying to race to the finish line that usually is the winning of another's hand in marriage.  They get themselves into humorous scrapes, particularly ones involving the imbibing of too much alcohol and/or mistaken identities. They vie for affection and are sometimes cutthroat in their means of attaining it.  And they are hilarious as they do these things.

I think the best of Wodehouse's writing are the characters he imagines up, as you can see from my list above.  Everyone stands out and all of the personalities are painted vividly and distinctly.

One thing that did bother me slightly was the ending, which - while not giving anything away, I hope! - left one person not getting what he wanted.  Thus, I waffled between giving this a 3.5 and a 4.  I know, real life never works out so neatly & all, but - it does in Wodehouse's clever worlds!  Everything always seems to fall just into place, right when it needs to.  I think that's what I adore most about escaping into his worlds for a time.  No matter how messed up things seem to be getting, you know in the back of your mind that Wodehouse has a master plan, and you can feel reassured that things will all work out just dandy in the long run.

Another thing I love about the author?  His word choices.  Oh, how I wish we would still use words today like Wodehouse used to - I finished the book a few days ago, and still can't get "flippertygibbet" out of my mind (definition: one who, er, likes to play the field).  And calling girls "ducky"!  It's just all too charming, really.

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