Audio book: Something Fresh

by P. G. Wodehouse
Read by: Jonathan Cecil
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there! (Though it looks like this one is out of print…)
Content: There’s really nothing. Some smoking. A few words of mild swearing. I’d give it to a high schooler who was interested in Downton Abbey. It’d be in the Adult Fiction section of the bookstore.

Ah, Wodehouse. I had a square on my bingo card that was “Published exactly 100 years ago.” I did some research, and when I discovered that Wodehouse had a book I’d never read out that year, I jumped at the chance.

There’s a lot going on plot-wise in this one, though it mostly surrounds a scarab that is inadvertently stolen from an American millionaire, Mr. Peters. His daughter, Aline, is engaged to the Hon. Freddy Threepwood, the son of the Earl of Elmsworth, who is the one who walked off with the scarab. So, Peters hires Ashe Marson (and Aline hires Joan Valentine) to pose as his valet and get the scarab back. Unfortunately, at the castle, the Earl’s secretary, the Efficient Baxter, is super suspicious and is thwarting all attempts to return the scarab to its rightful owner. There’s several side love stories as well as a bunch of ridiculous relatives as well.

Silly, no? Well, it’s Wodehouse.

There were several audio versions of this, and I picked one at random, not knowing what to expect. I wasn’t terribly impressed; it was hard to tell, sometimes (especially since Wodehouse does rapid-fire dialogue), who was talking. And Cecil’s American accent was HORRIBLE. Awful. Seriously. As was his women’s voices. (Sometimes, he wouldn’t even bother with changing his voice for the women.)

In spite of that, Wodehouse’s writing made me smile (I wonder: how much I’d have laughed if the narrator had been better?), the characters were sufficiently silly, and the plot was sufficiently ridiculous. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Blanding’s Castle.

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