Shelf Control #47: Uncle Dynamite by P.G. Wodehouse

Wednesday, June 5th, and time again for Shelf Control. Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, simply pick a book from your TBR pile and write a post about it. Link back to Lisa’s page. and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks!

A new month, but this time I pushed forward the reading theme I had picked since I had a few books left over from the last couple of months that I still haven’t got down to, so this is basically going to be a ‘catch up’ month for me (June reading plans here). So my picks for this month’s Shelf Control posts are going to be more random, rather than sticking to the month’s theme/genre. This week’s pick, as you’ve seen in the picture is Uncle Dynamite by P.G. Wodehouse, one of my favourite authors.

Uncle Dynamite (1948) is the second book in P.G. Wodehouse’s series featuring Uncle Fred, or Frederick Altamont Cornwallis Twistleton, the fifth Earl of Ickenham, but his first full-length adventure on his own. The first book Uncle Fred in the Springtime is set in Blandings Castle, so is more a part of that series, although also the start of this one.

In this one, Uncle Fred’s nephew Reginald ‘Pongo’ Twistleton is in trouble (no surprise there!). At the home of his future father-in-law, Sir Aylmer Bostock, he has smashed an item from Sir Aylmer’s collection of African curios, and worse, has also smashed a coveted bust of the man himself. So it must of course be replaced, but the replacement he has chosen is no ordinary bust, but a vessel for smuggling, full of jewels, fashioned by his former fiancée, Sally. When Sally tries to substitute yet another bust for the jewel-filled one, more trouble ensues, and Uncle Fred must intervene. And he does–how else but in true Wodehouse style as an impostor!

This (a paperback edition by Arrow) was once again ordered online just a couple of months ago, in April.

P.G. Wodehouse
Source: Wikimedia commons

Wodehouse is an author I enjoy very much (which I’m sure you’ve noticed from previous posts)–his plots, even if in a similar mould at times, have enough twists and turns to keep one hooked, but essentially, it is his writing that makes one go back to him over and over–whether its rereading old favourites or picking up ‘new’ ones (He’s written about a hundred, so there are quite a few ‘new’ ones I still have to get to). In many of his books, he quotes Pippa Passes–“God’s in his heaven, and all’s right with the world“, and in Wodehouse land, that is the feeling that is with one at all times. You may be doubling over with laughter at times, but even when not, even when things in the story are going wrong for the characters, one always knows that all will be set right, and one is in a peaceful place where all is right with the world. [Just as Stephen Fry says, “You don’t analyse such sunlit perfection, you just bask in its warmth and splendour”.]

And then of course, there is Uncle Fred himself. He is such a fun character, and I love watching how he pulls people out of the soups they get themselves into (like poor old Lord Emsworth, often for no fault of his own), or Pongo as in this book or in Uncle Fred in the Springtime. Of course, mischevious and energetic (somewhat like Emsworth’s brother Galahad), he attracts his own share of trouble too!

Have you read Uncle Dynamite? How did you like it? Or any other books featuring Uncle Fred? If so which ones, and how did you like them? Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

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Light-hearted and Fun: June Theme Review and my Reading Theme for July

June for me was all about Light-hearted reading, and the authors/books I picked off my shelves were those I thought fit this theme–Miss Read, Barbara Pym, and Wodehouse, and new (to me) authors Eva Rice and Julian Fellowes (based on the descriptions of the books). For a change this month, I actually managed to read all the five titles that I’d planned to pick for this month, with a total of eight books completed (one a spillover from last month). All of my theme reads with the exception of my Children’s book, Cairo Jim and the Secret Sepulchre of the Sphinx were set in England (this did however fit my ‘light hearted reads theme and my review is here).

I started off my ‘theme’ reads with The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice, which is set in the 1950’s and follows the story of eighteen-year-old Penelope Wallace who lives in a crumbly house with her mother, society beauty Talitha, and aspiring musician brother (when he is home from school) Inigo. Her meeting and friendship with Charlotte, her aunt Clare, and cousin, Harry, a magician, changes life as she has known it. The book, reminiscent of Nancy Mitford and I Capture the Castle, really immerses one in the 1950s post-war world, Jazz, Teddy boys, and Elvis looming on the horizon, yet to break on to the music scene in England, at least. My first book by the author and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Read my review here.

eva rice.jpg

Next, I travelled into the English countryside, still in the 1950s with the third of the Fairacre books, Storm in the Village by Miss Read. In this one, a storm certainly brews up in the village with a proposed housing settlement threatening to take over the hundred acre farm, and Miss Read’s junior/assistant, Miss Jackson, falling for a quite unsuitable gamekeeper. I especially loved how the chapters are arranged around the storm theme–straws in the wind, the storm breaking, and then the calm after the storm. My review is on this blog here.

storm

Also in my theme reads was P.G. Wodehouse’s Summer Moonshine, in some ways a fairly typical Wodehouse story with an impoverished earl, a country house (in this case a very ugly stately home), money troubles, and matters of the heart, while in others not very usual for there were no impostors and nothing whatsoever was ‘pinched’. Not my favourite Wodehouse, but it still made me laugh as he always does. My review is here. And a quote from the book was my Bookquote last week (here).

summer moonshine.jpg

Barbara Pym’s No Fond Return of Love takes us into her familiar world of proofreaders and index-makers, and matters of the heart of course, this time with Dulcie Mainwaring who isn’t perhaps looking for love but finds herself interested in Dr Alwyn Forbes who is also the object of her friend Viola’s Dace’s affections while he himself seems interested in Dulcie’s young niece Laurel. She (and the reader) has an interesting time looking into Alwyn’s family and background while navigating through a world peopled by a host of somewhat eccentric characters. My review is here.

no fond ret.jpg

Finally I read Snobs by Julian Fellowes, which is the story of Edith Lavery, a middle class girl who marries into the nobility, to the decent, honest, but dull Charles Broughton, only to find that the life she was trying to break into is perhaps not all that she’d imagined it was. When she seems to find ‘love’ or what she thinks is love elsewhere, she must consider what it is she wants in life and accept that perhaps, one can’t really have everything. My review is here

Snobs cover.

This month I also started my re-visit of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series of school stories (review of the first is here), the second of Blyton’s series that I’m reading chronologically for the first time. I also finally began reading Shakespeare, something I’ve been planning to do for ages but didn’t get down to. The first play that I’ve started is A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, and my posts on Act I and Act II are here and here, and on Act III should be up some time later this week.

In July, I plan to tackle some doorstoppers, at least some thick thick tomes that have been sitting on my TBR for a while but I haven’t gotten down to. Since I also have a few other ‘slimmer’ volumes to read for various group reads and challenges on goodreads, I’m only starting with a list of three with a possible fourth that I may pick up, if at all I can manage. The three I plan to read are Poland by James Michener, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, and Syren by Angie Sage. For the fourth, I might just pick up a Trollope (The Eustace Diamonds) or Wheel of Fortune (Susan Howatch).

So have you read any of my June or July books? What did you think of them?

And what are your reading plans for July? Looking forward to hearing about them! Happy reading month!

 

Bookquotes: Quotes from Books (8)

Berkshire

Source: By Internet Archive Book Images – https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/19888961623/Source book page: https://archive.org/stream/burpeesfarmannua1882watl/#page/n45/mode/1up, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43450734

Looking at Vanessa Polk one could readily imagine her being kind to people, whether on or off ocean liners, for her warmth and geniality were obvious at a glance. Where Lady Constance had winced at the sight of Lord Emsworth like a Greek Goddess finding a caterpillar in her salad, she smiled upon him as if their meeting was something to which she had been looking forward for years. … He felt, as so many people did when smiled upon by Vanessa Polk, that he had found a friend.

“How do you do?”, he said with a cordiality of which a short while before he would not have been capable. Then, remembering a good one, he added, “Welcome to Blandings Castle. Tomorrow,” he said, “I must show you my Pig”. It was not an invitation he often extended to female visitors, for experience had shown him that the Empress was wasted on shallow minds, but here, he saw, was one worthy of the privilege. “Are you fond of pigs?”

Miss Polk said that she had not met many socially, but had got along fine with those which had come her way, never an angry word, Was this, she asked, a special sort of pig, and Lord Emsworth answered eagerly in the affirmative.

“Empress of Blandings”, he said proudly, “has won the silver medal three years in succession in the Fat Pigs event at the Shropshire Agriculture Show.”

“You’re kidding!”

“I can show you her medals. It was an unparalleled feat.”

“To what does she owe her success?”

“Careful feeding.”

“I thought as much.”

 

— P.G. Wodehouse, A Pelican at Blandings (1969)