It’s probably just a coincidence that both PG Wodehouse books I read, I read when I was sick in bed, but perhaps it is true that laughter is the best medicine. Cocktail Time was exactly what I needed after spending Christmas Eve and Day with a fever and cough.
The Earl of Ickenham is on vacation from his wife (or perhaps the other way around), and in his benevolent way feels it his responsibility to clear up the problems of others. Everyone else is not quite sure if “clear” is the right word; “meddle” or “muddle” might be more accurate. There’s his nephew Johnny, desperate to shake his nanny before proposing, his good friend Sir Raymond, trying to hide the fact that he anonymously published a scandalous novel, his war buddy Peasemarch, butler to Sir Raymond and in love with his sister, and several others trying to get rid of or obtain someone or something. For Ickenham this is a jolly exercise, and it does turn out all right in the end, even if there’s a bit too much excitement.
P.G. Wodehouse’s books have a certain timelessness to them; I was shocked when he referred to a TV in a pub, and flipped to the front to see that this was published in 1958. The insular nature of the country house setting seems to have stayed the same across the decades.
I liked Picadilly Jim, but I loved Cocktail Time, and gave it to my mom to read as soon as I finished. It hit all the right notes, whereas the former tried a little too hard to be a romance. The multiple love stories succeed here because they are treated very matter-of-factly, with comic effect. The Ickenham system prescribes that you “stride up to the subject, grab her by the wrist, clasp her to your bosom and shower burning kisses on her upturned face. You don’t have to say much, just “My mate!” or something of the sort, and of course, in grabbing by the wrist, don’t behave as if you were handling a delicate piece of china. Grab firmly and waggle her about a bit.” You can imagine that this is not always met with success.
I have a few more of these lovely Overbrook editions, including a Jeeves and Wooster. I’m always on the lookout for more to add to my collection, but they are expensive to buy new.