Wodehouse: Uncle Dynamite

January 16, 2021

Uncle Dynamite
P.G. Wodehouse
(Overlook, 2006) [1948]
320 p.

There can be few less auspicious beginnings for an aspiring son-in-law than to inadvertently smash not just one, but two of the precious items in your intended father-in-law’s collection of curios, but this is just what happens to the hapless Pongo Twistleton upon his arrival at Ashenden Manor. Nor can it be particularly advantageous to find oneself overrun and overruled, in one’s own home, by a bombastic uncle, but this is just the position in which the long-suffering Bill Oakshott finds himself. Likewise, to be engaged to be married to a young man whom all the world sees is unsuitable, and who is persistently in love with another, could never be a recommended course for young and eligible women, but such is the quandary of the beautiful Hermione Bostock.

The resolution of these conundrums, and several others, becomes the project of Uncle Fred, whose boundless invention and shameless deceptions make him well-suited to the task. Adopting false identities, he makes a place for himself among the Ashendenizens, and gradually, by fits and starts, works his way through to triumph. It’s an inspired performance by Wodehouse; maybe not one of his very best, but a far sight better than you or I could do.

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