I finished out my reading year with P.G. Wodehouse, and who could ask for anything better? This is the second of his collections of golf stories (I posted about the first, The Clicking of Cuthbert, back in July). Here again the Oldest Member sits in the clubhouse or on the terrace overlooking the ninth hole, always glad to see a fellow member and always ready for a chat about golf, or love. These chats end up being a bit one-sided, of course, since the Sage is inevitably reminded of a story, which he proceeds to tell, deaf to any protests, attempts to change to subject, or even snoring from his listener.
Most of the stories, as so often with Wodehouse, deal with lovers divided, though one is also about a magical pair of plus-fours. (Reading this, I realized I had no idea where the name "plus-fours" comes from, but thanks to Google I do now: they are four inches longer than the traditional knickerbockers. Honestly, the things you learn from reading!) I enjoyed the stories, though none quite reaches the comic heights of "The Long Hole" in the first volume, which I still consider Wodehouse's funniest. Much of the humor comes from watching the trap close on the Oldest Member's chosen victim, and the futile attempts at escape that follow:
"The whole affair recalls irresistibly to my mind the story -"He rather reminds me of Jane Austen's Miss Bates, another implacable conversationalist. They are great fun to read about, though if I met either in real life, I would probably be trying to make my escape too, as quickly as possible.
The secretary rose with a whirr like a rocketing pheasant.
"- the story," continued the Sage, "of Jane Packard, William Bates, and Rodney Spelvin - which, as you have never heard it, I will now proceed to relate."
"Can't stop now, much as I should like - "
"It is a theory of mine," proceeded the Oldest Member, attaching himself to the other's coat-tails, and pulling him gently back into his seat . . .
It's still a few hours to midnight here, but I'll wish you a Happy New Year now. Here's to another great year of reading and sharing books!