Something Fresh

by P. G. Wodehouse

In Something Fresh, the absent-minded Lord Emsworth of Blandings Castle unintentionally walks off with the prized scarab from the collection of the American billionaire, J. Preston Peters. Though Peters wants it back, he doesn’t want to cause a scandal by accusing Emsworth of theft. For, not only did Emsworth, finding the scarab in his pocket, “remember” Peters graciously giving him such a valuable item, but Emsworth’s son, the Hon. Freddie Threepwood, is engaged to wed his daughter, Aline, and scandal is just the thing that could derail the wedding. So, what else should Peters do but offer a one-thousand pound reward to whoever is able to recover the scarab for him? And what could better liven up the dreary Blandings than imposter servants sneaking around in the dead of night, looking for their chance to pilfer the valuable item––blackmailing and romance, perhaps? Luckily, Something Fresh has that, too.

Something Fresh is filled with the Wodehouse wit that I prize so highly, but I found it to be neither as frequent nor strong as that in the previous books I’ve read by the author. As well, a good chunk of the start was, frankly, boring. I mean, things pick up significantly by the second half for sure, but, in the leisurely introductions to the score of characters, the setting, and the general set-up of the plot, I found it wanting for a bit more excitement.

Of course, when Wodehouse starts to get good, the writing’s great, even going so far as to have surprisingly touching moments, largely centring around the relationship growing between two of the principal characters, Ashe Marson and Joan Valentine. (It seems odd, looking at it now, that I was able to describe the plot without even a mention of either of these two, and then refer to them as principal characters, but I guess that’s the odd truth about it.) The long and short of it is, Something Fresh was funny, but rarely laugh-out-loud funny, as I found previous Wodehouse encounters to be. So, it’s worth a read, if you have the chance, but I’d, personally, suggest picking up Carry On, Jeeves or Cocktail Time over this one.