Heavy Weather, by P.G. Wodehouse
A book whose action follows almost precisely that of Summer Lightning, this novel may be seen as tying some of the loose ends of the previous novel. As a fan of the author’s work, which I have read in order to help improve my own mood in the face of approaching darkness and gloomy overcast weather, it was rather striking that this particular story dealt so much with the subject of heavy weather . Yet like any Wodehouse novel, the heavy weather of this particular novel goes away with an ending that anyone can judge as a happy one. True love prevails, as does social harmony. Like many of Wodehouse’s novels, there is a subtle message about class snobbery here, where England’s nobles are shown to be nothing special and in need the protection of ancestral wealth and prestige in order to protect themselves from the harshness of the world outside. Only a humorist of the skills of Wodehouse would even attempt to make the preservation of some sort of privileged realm for nobility an act of kindness to those unable to compete in the contemporary world, while remaining free of the sort of prejudice to that class and being clear-eyed about the general eccentricities of many of England’s peers.
To summarize this novel appears a bit churlish, as this is not the sort of novel that most people would enjoy for the plot, but rather for the oddball assortment of characters that is to be found within it, most of whom would be familiar to someone who reads these novels. While Hugo has resigned after a short spell as the secretary for Lord Emsworth and returned to London, most of the rest of the gang from Summer Lightning makes its return here. We have a Lord Tilbury seeking to obtain Sir Galahad’s memoirs in order to make a certain profit off of its scandalous materials, Lady Constance and Lady Julia trying to sabotage the marriage of Ronnie (Julia’s son) and chorus girl Sue Brown. We have Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe seeking a spot in Parliament and deathly afraid of blackmail that would ruin his political chances, and on top of that Sir Gregory’s nephew, who used to be Sue’s fiance, is Lord Emsworth’s secretary trying to hold down a job for a year so that he can win the hand of his beloved from her strict father while a clueless private eye tries to look out for the main chance for himself any way he can. Of course, this being a Wodehouse novel, everything ends up alright and virtue is rewarded and true love prevails and all that.
If you have read this far, then you likely know whether you want to read this novel, or read it again if you as much a fan as Wodehouse as I am. Reading a novel like this is a lot like slipping on a pair of comfortable slippers and spending a few hours later than you have to in your bathrobe as you enjoy a pleasant and lazy afternoon before you have to go about your usual business again. Some people like this sort of thing a lot and some people find it to be a waste of time, and a reader generally knows what they find comfortable and familiar and what they find to be tiresome and unpleasant. There are likely to be few surprises here. As far as Wodehouse novels go, this one has a satisfying ending and serves as a wonderful follow up to an enjoyable previous novel that left the ending hanging a bit a in suspense. At least here that suspense and tension are ended and the novel has a satisfying close. That is as much as one can ask for, I suppose.
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