February 15, 2005

Uneasy Money, by P.G. Wodehouse

Uneasy Money came as quite a pleasant surprise. It's a transitional work, published in 1916, before he'd fully constructed his world of farce and foolishness, and hence has a more realistic tone than the Jeeves or Blandings tales--indeed, except for a few short moments it isn't really a farce at all. On the other hand, the overly realistic atmosphere that mars the earlier A Gentleman of Leisure is completely missing.

In consequence, Uneasy Money falls into a category all of its own: it's a delightful romantic comedy written in Wodehouse' remarkable style. Because of the extra bit of realism, it matters that our hero marries the right girl, who is indeed a real peach, sweet, pretty, and capable of taking care of herself in every way that matters.

Our hero, William Lord Dawlish (Bill to everyone), is especially remarkable. Like many a Wodehouse leading man, he isn't the sharpest tack in the carpet; but he's solid. He has integrity--if it's not playing the game he simply won't do it. He'd love more than anything else to settle down and farm or something of the kind, but as impoverished peer he's got no money to invest, as a peer of any kind employers won't take him seriously, and he won't suck up to the kind of bounders who might advance his career for their own sakes.

It's a common scene: one of a pair of lovers is found in a seemingly compromising but actually innocent situation, and the other refuses even to listen, instead rushing off in a snit. (Don't you hate that?) Bill's the kind of guy who would listen--and assume his girl was telling him the truth, purely as a matter of course.

Anyway, I enjoyed this one thoroughly, which in this case means "more than usual for Wodehouse". Don't miss it.

Posted by Will Duquette at February 15, 2005 07:02 PM