Title: Something Fresh
Author: PG Wodehouse
Year written: 1915
Publisher and year: Arrow Books, 2008
ISBN Number: 978-0-09-951378-0
I bought this book as part of a set from The Works a while ago, I think maybe some time last year, as it was in an offer as a set of four. The RRP for these is £7.99 though I think that’s around the amount I paid for all four of them, though they don’t seem to be available from them any more. There are a lot of versions of the Blandings books published throughout the years, I only realise when writing this that it was written over 100 years ago, so you can probably find it available for cheap online or in second hand book stores.
This is the first book from the Blanding series. I’m not sure how well known it is as a Wodehouse series, until a year or two ago I hadn’t heard of it and the only knowledge I have is from the BBC TV series with Timothy Spall and Jennifer Saunders. There are nine books in the series in total and this one introduces the characters and the setting itself for future stories, though Lord Emsworth and his family don’t feel like the main characters in this story it is a good introduction to them and the society that they live in.
As there are many versions of this book I’m sure there are others that have covers I would prefer, these do have a nice illustration of a man that I am assuming is Lord Emsworth and Blanding castle in the distance though nothing that’s specific to this story really. I like the font for the main title, how it stands out and looks hand written almost in style, and the PG Wodehouse on the cover and the spine is designed almost like a logo to me and it does mean that all of them in this series stand out. The rest of the series, or the ones that I own anyway, have the same style and use different colour combinations for the different stories. The back cover is fairly plain and does have a small blurb on the story, I won’t go into any more detail than what’s included in this later in the review so this should be relatively spoiler free. I do like the inclusion of the quote from Stephen Fry, though it’s on all of them in the series and it does feel odd writing a review when it has that on the back. For some reason it seems like the cover is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, I don’t really get this with many books but any time I touch it it leaves marks on it.
Inside the book is a standard print size and font, it’s probably around 10 or 12 if you printed it out so a size that is easily readable for a lot of people. It’s nice and crisp print though the paper isn’t the best quality it’s the kind you get in a lot of cheaper paperback books that’s a sort of yellow colour rather than pure white. These are nice paperback books, the kind I would be happy to take away on holiday with me and not worry about them getting damaged rather than the kind that you’d keep for a collection, to me anyway.
The story itself is set in the Blanding world, though the characters from Blandings castle don’t feel like the main characters in this story. They’re mixed up in it all, accidentally as you’d expect from the characters rather than on purpose, and they do bring it all together but there are two others that I would say were more central to the plot and it feels more of an adventure story than I was expecting going into it. As with most Wodehouse books, or the ones I’ve read, it’s a very gentle story, it doesn’t move especially quickly and it has a nice pace throughout the book that makes it relaxing and fun to read. It does have the adventure element but it’s along the lines of an Agatha Christie paced adventure rather than a fast paced modern book.
You can tell that the book isn’t modern in the language used, though it would be fitting for the time the book is set and the world the characters lived in. It’s definitely the sort of thing you can imagine the lords and ladies saying in the early twentieth century and you can almost imagine the posh English accent when reading them, especially when it comes to Larm Emsworth and his family. For some reason he comes off as rather Nigel Thornberry to me in my head but at the same time it’s very hard to not imagine the cast of the BBC adaptation when reading it. This is definitely a bit of poking fun at the posher parts of British life, at least it feels like it to me, though not in a nasty way but in the observational comedy way that makes that lifestyle and characters seem kind of naïve and sweet and not living in this world when it comes to certain things.
As far as setting up the rest of the stories I think it does a good job. It brings in the characters but it’s got a bit of storyline going alongside that means it’s not all set in Blandings castle and it moves at a quicker pace than it would if it was just their lives. I think it’s a great book for anyone to read at any time, it’d be a nice relaxing holiday book or the kind of thing that you could read as a bit of light comedy or something in between heavier books. It’s not laugh out loud funny to me but it definitely made me smile.
I think this would be suitable for any age really, the thing that would stop it from being readable to younger audiences is the language used as it is a bit dated and at times it takes a lot of long words to say something that would probably be said a lot quicker in modern books. That’s probably the main thing that slows it down story wise for me, the fact that there’s a lot of description and words which aren’t used today so seem a bit unnecessary, though they would probably have been perfectly fine and common to use at the time.
I would recommend this book if you like older books and light comedy, especially observational comedy about the lords and ladies in England. There is a bit of adventure in there in the form or a missing scarab that needs to be found but it’s not an all out adventure book so if you expected that it would probably disappoint you as parts doe definitely slow it down. I think if you liked the BBC TV series then reading the original books they seem to have a similar tone to this book, though I am yet to read the rest of the books, and fans of Jeeves and Wooster or the Jeeves series of books by Wodehouse would enjoy these as it’s a similar style comedy and characters.
As these are so easy to find, I think most libraries would be able to get them in if they don’t already have them and you didn’t want to buy a book you didn’t know if you’d like, they’re worth checking out. They do feel a bit dated but the humour is still there and they do make good comfort reading kind of books, the ones you can get lost in and they don’t necessarily go anywhere but you know there’s going to be a happy ending and all will be right at Blandings castle by the end of the book.