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This was Wodehouse's last book, unfinished when he died aged 93 in 1975, here published just as he left it, with extensive notes by Richard Usborne. It is a Blandings Castle story, with the usual clutch of romances: one of the Emsworth nieces is in love with with a young man deemed unsuitable by her mother but who Galahad Threepwood smuggles into the castle; slightly more unusually, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in love with one of the Earl's widowed sisters, but feels his wooing style is being cramped by his police guard; and the Earl himself, of course, remains dreamily obsessed with the Empress (his pig). It is all very familiar, comforting and funny. I lent it to an eastern European friend last night who had never heard of Wodehouse, and she was laughing out loud by the second paragraph. I may see how easy it is to find cheap paperbacks of his earlier, complete books on eBay. (Especially the early Blandings ones, Summer Lightning, Heavy Weather and Full Moon.)

I must say that I approve heartily of the decision to publish the book as it was when Wodehouse left it, with Usborne's detailed notes (which include also appendices on the floor plan of Blandings Castle and the train timetable). In the sf and fantasy world we have seen a number of posthumous or near-posthumous collaborations, and I have not yet heard of one that was any good.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 24th, 2009 09:57 am (UTC)
Floor plan of Blandings!?! Must have!

I love the initial short story collection Blandings Castle best of all. It has Pig-hooooey! in it for a start. And also a glorious one where Clarence stands up to Constance - doesn't last of course.
Jun. 27th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC)
I remember finding the book a bit of a slog, as Wodehouse was clearly declining in his powers, but for all that the glimpses of his working style were wonderful. I also enjoyed perhaps more than anything else the introduction Douglas Adams wrote for it, which I've always considered a masterpiece of the genre: witty, informative about the author and the work, yet with much of Adams's own voice and strengths present as well.

As far as posthumous collaborations go, I thought Zelazny's work with Jane Lindskold was at least enjoyable. Certainly it was at least as good as the bulk of his later work, A Night in the Lonesome October aside, though that may say more about Zelazny than about the quality of the collaboration.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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