Love Among The Chickens, by P.G. Wodehouse
As someone familiar with the author’s work , I try to read (or listen to) works of this that are a bit more obscure, and when I saw that there was an audiobook of Wodehouse’s first published novel in the library, I figured it was one I had to listen to. After all, it has to deal with two of my favorite subjects, love and chickens . One of the more enjoyable aspects of this novel is the way that it is meta before meta was cool, in that a great deal of the book deals with the travails of a writer who is not yet extremely successful and finds himself helping out an impecunious friend in a chicken farm while trying to woo the beautiful daughter of a somewhat feisty Irish professor. The success of this novel, even if he did not explore the world of its characters in the level that he did, say, with the inhabitants of Blandings Castle or with Jeeves and Wooster, allowed Wodehouse to escape the ranks of slightly successful writers and to reach a much higher plane, and for that alone we ought to appreciate this triumph of wit.
As far as novels go, this one is written with a light but understanding touch. At the center of this novel are a few lovable and somewhat odd characters, with the narrator one Jeremy Garnet, a novelist and scribbler whose works have not yet been particularly popular and who makes a living by writing short stories for occasional bits of money and who finds himself induced to travel to a chicken farm on the outskirts of Cume Regis to help out his friend Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, who finds himself dealing with a motley collection of generally foul-tempered chickens who are only somewhat more friendly than his many creditors. Stanley’s labors on the chicken farm along with the faithful hired help are not so onerous that he is unable to court a beautiful and intelligent young woman, Phyllis, a courtship that is hindered by his own efforts at manipulating events to be the hero as well as Ukridge’s general buffoonery, but true love prevails, even where the chicken farming proves to be dismally unprofitable. All in all, this book is an enjoyable one and sets up some of the clear contrasts and patterns in the author’s work that would endure for his entire body of work.
Some of the themes that this book introduces that would play a large role in the author’s writings include the contrast between city and country, the continual duel between aunts/uncles with money and nephews in need of money, the stressful existence of scribblers who live from one short story or poem to the next, and the difficulties people face in courtship concerning the consent of parents or guardians even where the people involved are well matched, as they are in this case. This book also contains one of the more interesting and noteworthy cases of love at first site when the author sees his beloved reading and enjoying his own book, something that any writer can well understand. To be sure, this is not a deep work, by any means, but it is certainly a book that is capable of bringing a warm smile to the face of anyone who loves humorous British comic literature, and this book was certainly the worthy start to an immensely successful career, and one that would pave the way for a variety of successful comic sagas dealing with love and money, eccentric English people and their animals, and memorable locations. What’s not to like about that?
 See, for example:
 See, for example: