Also known as Something Fresh, this is P.G. Wodehouse’s first Blandings novel and I just thought I’d see how it compared to one 40 years later (Galahad). It is clearly both Blandings and yet not quite, Lord Emsworth is the empty-headed earl who loves the country, but his only sister is Lady Ann, who makes no appearance, and there’s no Empress! It hardly seems Blandings without the Empress, but I hope at some point to read about her arrival. Beach is there. There’s a heck of a lot about the people below stairs compared to the later ones. Partly this is because the story begins with two young people writing trashy stories and barely scraping by in London. Joan meets Ashe when she apologizes for laughing at him while he did his morning exercises. She gives him a lecture on getting out of his rut and by taking her advice and reading the want ads, he stumbles on an opportunity: pretending to be a valet to Mr. Peters whose daughter is engaged to Freddie Threepwood and whose father the earl absent-mindedly walked off with Peters’ prized scarab. Meanwhile, Joan runs into her old friend Aline Peters, daughter of aforementioned millionaire and fiancee of Freddie, and takes her own advice by signing up to play ladies’ maid to Aline and snitch back the scarab. With a few other complications, this gets all parties to Blandings and hijinks ensue.
Looking forward to reading more Wodehouse and seeing how and when the sisters and the Empress show up. Wodehouse is always fun if you want something light, funny, yet well written, it’s hard to go wrong with him. Again, this is probably not top tier, but not a bad place to start if you’ve never read him. Although you also might want a Jeeves and Wooster one to begin with. Really, you can’t go wrong.