Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Adventures of Sally, by P.G. Wodehouse

This Wodehouse book was unlike any other I've read. Like Mike and Psmith, the tone was more serious, with the comedy taking a back seat to the story, but while Mike and Psmith has the lightheartedness that comes from schoolboys whose only concern is cricket, The Adventures of Sally is about a lighthearted girl who nearly has that crushed out of her by life. Not typical Wodehouse fare, though I did say "nearly."

Sally Nicholas is an American girl working at a fancy nightclub, where rich men come to dance with ladies. She lives at a boarding house and is engaged to a man who has written a play and is trying to get it produced. A distant relative dies and leaves her a small sum of money; not enough to make her very rich, but enough that she doesn't have to worry about money for a while. She takes a vacation to France where she meets a British man named Lancelot, but who everyone save his stuffed-shirt relatives calls Ginger. She learns that Ginger recently angered the stuffed-shirts who pay the bills and now must make his own way in the world. Sally returns to America and is soon followed by Ginger and his cousin, who also has met Sally and is captivated by her. Sally's fiancé's play is in trouble because his financial backer is trying to use it as a star vehicle for a chorus girl he loves. Sally offers to back the play with what remains of her inheritance. The plays a success, which changes the fortunes of everyone involved.

In many respects, I liked this book a lot. Instead of targeting farce and coming up with a story that helps with the comedy, this time it is the story that is the focus, with the comedy playing a supporting role. The way in which Wodehouse wrote Ginger's cousin's proposal to Sally and her refusal was skillful and unique. Also, Sally is written in such a way as to seem quite like the perfect girl, and although she'd be about 115 if she were alive today, she'd cause a serious strain to my marriage were I to meet her on the street.

Rating: 6 out of 7 giant inflatable monkeys.

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