Saturday, December 14, 2013

Uncle Dynamite--P.G. Wodehouse Book Review

When I was a kid, my father raved about the author P.G. Wodehouse.  On one of his shelves he had the book Joy in the Morning which he recommended. Of course as a teenager I did not see the point of reading a book my dad recommended.  But,  I did remember the recommendation. And in my early thirties I read Joy in the Morning and recall laughing out loud.

For some reason, though, I'd not picked up another book by P.G. Wodehouse until last week.  Uncle Dynamite, is one of the dozens of novels PG Wodehouse has written. For a stretch he was churning out at least one and sometimes two a year.

If you like clever language you will enjoy how Wodehouse writes. For me, however, after about twenty pages I'd had enough.  The story was silly, but it was not meant to be anything but. A boy meets "Uncle Dynamite" on a train and relays how he is in love with his cousin who has little or no interest in him. Uncle Dynamite has the sad duty to relay that the cousin is in fact engaged to be married to another. The boy is distraught.  The book is about how Uncle Dynamite gets this and several other related complexities worked out.  There are several side plots. There is a maid who won't marry a goofy policeman unless he quits the force and opens a pub; an American woman who wants to smuggle jewels back into the states through a clay statue; an icy author, an irascible uncle, mistaken identities, prospects of a baby naming contest, and assorted other Keystone Cops episodes.

Is it clever? yes .

Are there laugh out loud moments? some.  

But the bottom line is that whereas there are books I don't want to end because I enjoy living in them,  I hurried to finish Uncle Dynamite. I think you need to be a devoted fan of Wodehouse or an Anglophile to select this book as an essential read.

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