My first P.G. Wodehouse book did not disappoint! While it’s not a long book, it isn’t too short and left me feeling satisfied. The length fit perfectly to the tale told, and everything felt very intentional and perfectly in place. It made me laugh, and just felt delightful and fun.
What really stands out about this book though is the eccentric and colorful characters! Usually that’s key to any humorous book, but often you’ll have the same old tropes over again. In this I was surprised and pleased by the main protagonist Joss Weatherby. Cheeky is the word to describe him (or “fresh”). He was both outrageously confident and humble, full of integrity and sly, mischievous and honest. I never knew what would come out of his mouth! I love that, I love the unexpected, so long as it makes sense on some level, which this does. Joss Weatherby meets the girl of his dreams, Sally Fairmile, who unfortunately is not on the same page as him in regards to their destiny. They only happened to meet because his boss’s old flame shows up to complain about his boss’s prize product – hams. Thus ensues a series of antics, misunderstandings, and hilarious repartee throughout it all.
It reminded me in many ways of Terry Pratchett, but the romance which could have been incredibly cheesy, actually felt rather natural even despite the outrageousness of it all. That’s what I love most though, is how outrageous things were, and how ridiculous. Because that is true to life! Real people are ridiculous, crazy, silly, and full of surprises. That is what this story is about and does so well.
My only disappointment with this book is the cover! I could not find a version with a cover I liked. Shallow, I know, but there it is. Also I don’t think you can get a kindle version for this yet, which is a shame. It’s a real gem.
Joss’s unfailing confidence in himself:
Joss raised his eyebrows.
‘My dear J.B., when you madly dispensed with my services, you surely did not expect that a man of my gifts would be out of employment long? I was snapped up immediately. I have a sort of general commission to look after things here. You might call me the Claines Hall Fuhrer.’
‘Steptoe said you were his valet.’
‘Yes, that’s another way of putting it.”
The fate of the world rests on one’s choice in breakfast meat:
What can I get you, Mrs. Chavender? Eggs? Fish? Ham?’
It was a moment big with fate. On this woman’s answer hung the destinies not only of all those present, but in addition of J.B. Duff, managing director of the firm of Duff and Trotter, London’s leading provision merchants; of Joss Weatherby, the artist; of Chibnall, Mrs. Steptoe’s butler; and of Vera Pym, barmaid at the Rose and Crown in the neighboring town of Loose Chippings, Chibnall’s fiancee.
If she had said ‘Eggs,’ nothing would have happened. Had she replied ‘Fish,’ the foundations of this little world would have remained unrocked.
‘Ham’ said Mrs. Chavender.
According to Joss, everyone loves Joss:
[Joss] ‘Poor unhappy wreck. I sometimes feel the best thing he could do would be to throw himself away and start afresh. But he won’t be cross with me. Not with lovable old Weatherby. Did I ever tell you that I once saved him from drowning back in America? Stick your head through the transom and watch how his face lights up when I appear.’…
‘Aha J.B.’ said Joss sunnily. ‘Good morrow.’
‘Oh, you’re there are you?’ said Mrs. Duff.
[Joss]‘ She just wanted to see you and say hullo’
[J.B. Duff] ‘We haven’t met in fifteen years.’
[Joss] ‘Ah, but you’re like the chewing-gum. The taste linger.’