Saturday, February 05, 2011

Reflections: Love Among The Chickens

I am a fervent die-hard fan of P.G.Wodehouse. I adore his writing and his unique sense of humor. It doesn’t matter that his books are just satires of silly British aristocrats and idle men. His plots are deceptively simple and deliciously intricate. And I just can’t get enough of his characteristic writing and humor. This addiction runs in my family. With my grandfather, dad, every uncle and aunt passing over their books onto me, it was almost a rite of passage for me as I spent my early teenage years finishing up most of his books. After nearly a decade (yikes am I old!), I’ve discovered all of Wodehouse’s early books in Kindle! God Bless all those benevolent people. So, I am revisiting the master :)

Jeremy Garnet is a budding novelist living his modest, literary life in the city. His rambunctious friend Ukridge pays him an unexpected visit with his newly married wife and announces his intention to start a chicken-farm in the country to make a living. Does he know the first thing about chickens? Not much, but Ukridge believes in his hypothesis  that eggs are fundamental to every-one's existence, and that if the chickens were given the space to run around and roost and peck a few grains, they would diligently lay him plenty of eggs to be sold and bring him a phenomenal profit. Ukridge drags Jeremy with him to the country to help him with his farm. What ensues is a hilarious fumble with the obstinate chickens, and a little romance spicing up Jeremy’s life, although the love of his life has an irritable father whom he needs to temper.

Now be forewarned that Wodehouse’s early books are just a shadow, a mere hint of his later books. This was the time he was honing his skills and nuances. A time before his imagination stumbled on Jeeves, Bertie, Gussie Finknottle, the Glossops, Lord Emsworth and Psmith... and many many more wonderful characters. This book is more of a lighter version of Wodehouse, both in terms of the language and the humor. However the humor picks up and the climax is delivered in his quintessential hilarious, chaotic manner :).

Reading this book after so many years reminded me of the simple age when I used to naively and passionately spend several hours with a dear friend of mine, discussing, dissecting and applauding every brilliant sentence, structure and character of Wodehouse. Anyway, plenty of nostalgia and all that makes this book even better than it actually is.

Digested thoughts: I would recommend this book if you are a Wodehouse fan, or if you want a taste of his style by reading a lighter version. The language is as impeccable as ever, but not as masterful as his later works. Same goes for humor. It is definitely a book to lift your spirits and enter a lighter mood. 


Karthik said...

I love wodehouse too! And luckily, there are several of his books I am yet to read including this one! Actually the first one of his that I read was one of his early books called white feather, and I too felt he was just honing his skills then.

I particularly enjoyed this post, partly cos its well written, and partly cos I'm partial to all things wodehousian:-)

Neeraja said...

Thanks Karthik. I share your partiality to Wodehouse and I am always happy to meet his fans! The only books of his that I don't read are those based wholly on cricket or golf. But I am sure I'll change that too in the coming years :)

SecondSight said...

Haha, there are a few of his short story collections too. As you said- they aren't exactly PGW classics, but still a lot of fun. Actually, in some ways these books are a better introduction to his work for people that aren't used to the subtle/ more refined humor in his more famous books :)

Neeraja said...

SecondSight, I agree! But I would hate someone to form an opinion on PGW based just on his early books! :)