New Year’s Resolutions – and Clergy galore!

My Friend Oli – who is a determined blogger of some note, among other things- pointed out the other day that it is vital to actually write your resolutions down if you are going to stand any chance of keeping them. I also agree that it’s good to take on something positive, rather than just resolve to give things up. So my resolve is to try to write more posts, which does sort of imply that I read even more books. Or maybe just finish a few more…The problem is that I rather like big books, or at least my non fiction choices are big undertakings. So, more about books in progress? I am reading a biography of Fanny Kemble,the actress, by Rebecca Jenkins, which I picked up cheaply online. An excellent read so far, with lots of 18th Century detail. More about that soon.

Today’s book is a composite work, with short stories and extracts from novels. Two factors make it irresistible to me. It is by P.G. Wodehouse, who is my favourate comedy/relaxing author, and the subject is Clergy. The Clergy Omnibus is one of a series of Omnibus (Omnibusi?) produced by Hutchinson, which includes Aunts and Golf. This collection is probably for Wodehouse devotees who would recognise the origins of the pieces, or those interested in a topic and want to read Wodehouse’s best writing (about Aunts?!?).

This book reveals such delights as the curate who takes elephant strength tonic with great effect, Bishops who revert to schoolboy antics, curates thwarted in love, clumsy clergy and generally bewildered clergymen. It is a funny book, and an interesting way to begin reading some of the full novels and meeting characters including the remarkable Jeeves and a highly moral cat called Webster, whose career is lovingly recorded in one of Mulliner’s tall tales.

I liked this book, because it takes the same line as something like The Vicar of Dibley, in that it pokes fun at the clergy and parishioners rather than religion. The intention is just to entertain, amuse and show that the clergy of the mid twentieth century were, just like in any century, as human in their foibles as anyone else. It is dated, of course, and always unlikely, but that is the genius of Wodehouse. Like the book Pigs Have Wings that I mentioned a few months ago, it is safe reading for those who want to avoid death, destruction and despair in their comfort reading. It may not meet your needs, it may not be to your taste, but this is a genuinely funny book that I really enjoyed.

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