“As so often happens in this life, the misfortune of one is the good fortune of another.”
P. G. Wodehouse
Leave It to Psmith is another one of those books that has been on my TBR for time out of mind, in this case since last Christmas, when I was given it by the Scot. I wasn’t actually looking forward to it all that much, despite the repeated recommendations from the world at large: I was under the impression that, given its publication date (1923) it would be either dull as ditchwater or disastrously unfunny.
This just proves that I am an idiot.
Leave It to Psmith is actually quite hilarious in a very British way: quietly, eccentrically, and in a fashion that has nothing to do with plot. Superficially, the book is centred upon events at Blandings Castle, where the Lady Emsworth’s twenty-thousand-pound diamond necklace becomes the focus for a positive hotbed of thievery. Fundamentally, however, we’re only reading for the delightful rogue who is the titular Psmith, a well-dressed gentleman who’s just left the family business and whose motives for visiting the castle are, thus, ever-so-slightly suspect. Think Dirk Gently, 20s-style. It’s very funny without at all being serious.
In fact, Wodehouse is possibly the literary equivalent of marshmallows: light and fluffy and moreish, without being very nutritious, as it were, or even very relevant to anything at all. There are plenty of dropped narrative threads (whatever did happen to that undercover detective?), and it’s all wrapped up rather swiftly, and you can see the ending coming a mile off, but that’s not really important, because there are also flying flowerpots and irrepressible bachelors and gently sarcastic one-liners which rather make up for the lack of any proper plot. I will definitely be revisiting Blandings, and hopefully Psmith, quite soon.