Friday, February 18, 2011

Piccadilly Jim

Piccadilly Jim, P.G. Wodehouse

For the longest time, all I knew of PG Wodehouse was Jeeves.  At some point I bought an omnibus edition of the Jeeves & Bertie stories - and that turned out to be too much of a good thing.  So I sort of mentally shelved PGW away, and though at some point I also picked up a used copy of Leave It To Psmith, I left it on the TBR pile.

Then one day on the Georgette Heyer listserv, someone quoted Psmith's favorite poem ("Of all sad words of tongue or pen...").  That intrigued me, and I remembered that I had a copy of a Psmith book sitting around.  I took it with me on a plane trip, and by the time the plane landed I was head over heels for Psmith.

When I got back to Houston after that trip, I immediately went looking for more Psmith.  It was depressing to find that the chain stores had only Jeeves, and the same few books at that (much like the Trollope sections, with only The Warden and Barchester Towers).  Still overstuffed with Bertie stories, I wasn't interested.  My last stop should have been my first: Murder by the Book, which had a small but varied selection, including the Psmith books.  And thus it was just a short step from Psmith to the rest of Blandings books, and then the discovery that there were Bertie novels (The Code of the Woosters being possibly my favorite).  And while I bought Uncle Fred in the Springtime because it was a Blandings book, I instantly lost my heart to Uncle Fred (though I keep a corner for Uncle Gally).  And then there were the stand-alones! Big Money, Summer Moonshine, A Damsel in Distress - and Mr Mulliner, and the Drones.

I think I discovered (or re-discovered) PGW just at the right time, with more & more books being reprinted, by Penguin, Vintage and Overlook.  And suddenly Arrow editions have been popping up in our local UBS chain, Half Price Books.  That's where I found Piccadilly Jim, originally published in 1918.

One of the surprises with PGW is how many of his books are set outside England.  Piccadilly Jim moves from New York to London and back again.  The settings are entertaining, there is a big and varied cast, the hero is funny and quick-witted and sympathetic - as is the heroine.  There are two imperious, overbearing aunts, and a butler of the Beach school.  But somehow it didn't quite gel for me.   It's not bad, it's just not one of his best, imo.  And these days my Wodehouse bar is pretty high.


  1. I love anything by Wodehouse, although I've only actually read one Jeeves book (Aunt's Aren't Gentlemen). One or two haven't quite hit the high note, but I don't think I've felt completely let down by any of them. Piccadilly Jim I read a couple of years ago, and loved.

  2. There have been a couple that I might not re-read. The Adventures of Sally is one, and Psmith Journalist is another.


Thank you for taking the time to read, and to comment. I always enjoy hearing different points of view about the books I am reading, even if we disagree!