More Wodehouse! More (nearly) Austen!

I have mentioned from time to time my obsession with P.G. Wodehouse. Obsession is possibly a bit strong; I just think that his books are such a ‘safe’ read. No one (important) dies, he has a lovely turn of phrase, and they are dependably easy to understand (as long as you can work out which oddly named character is which). There is not a great deal of variety, even if there are stand out series such as the Blandings and Jeeves, but this is part of their safe, reassuring charm. They speak of life as it probably never really existed, but filled with great characters such as the awful aunts, the daft heroes, the girls who variously urge theft, impersonation and general madness. There are (male)  secretaries who throw plant pots by night, lady doctors driven mad by the frequent assumption that they cannot possibly be competent, smuggling jewels, impersonation, arson and general madness.  One introduction to the nature of the beast is to be found in Plum Pie.

This book contains many short stories about the famous Jeeves and Wooster and other characters such as the optimistic Ukridge and Freddie Threepwood of Donaldson’s Dog food fame. (you have to read it..) There are also very funny pieces of American news stories which reflect where Wodehouse lived much of his later life. I realise that he was a controversial character and there were issues about wartime broadcasts and presumably tax.  He did create an innocent world for readers around the world and decades after; I enjoy him as the perfect relaxing read and always guaranteed to raise a smile.

Today’s other book is a nearly Austen; another book written from the point of view of a character, often the male lead, featured in one of the Austen canon. Henry Tinley’s Diary by Amanda Grange is just what it sounds like, a diary account supposed to be written by Henry Tinley, hero of Northanger Abbey. These books depend on a working knowledge and affection for the original book, if only because the diary format does not permit long descriptions of place and time. It includes quotes from the original and is strong on character and the motivation and attitudes of the male’writer’.

I have also read two others in this series; Darcy  and Captain Wentworth.  They are not Austen. They lack much of the style, grace and subtlety of the original. But if you are an  Austen fan and ever  wondered what motivated the male characters to behave as they did, how they got to be as they were, these books are worth tracking down.They are enjoyable and not off putting in their knowledge of the novels. It would be interesting  to read one if you didn’t know the original, as to whether they would stand on their own. I suspect that they would and would definitely like to read the others in the series, including Wickham’s …

Just a quick plug for where I am getting my wonderful, brand new, just published books. My local library is doing a great job, trying to enroll more people in the community, publicising what they offer, as well as allowing me to borrow books which I have read about and would cost a fortune to buy. Providing you get them back in time, or renew them online, you can borrow books for free. So, the message is obvious. If you are buying, try your local independent bookshop. But if you are happy to borrow, read and return, remember your library…

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