Thursday, July 26, 2012
One of those minor series centers on Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, one of those men whose self-confidence is always much higher than warranted by circumstances or than similar confidence is extended to him by any other human being. Ukridge, who mostly appears in short stories, is a font of get-rich schemes and new angles to make his life smoother and richer, every one of which scheme or angle leaves him at least as bad off as before -- but never, ever, daunted in the slightest.
The one novel about Ukridge is Love Among The Chickens, in which that ever-cheerful character decides that starting a business farming chickens on the Dorset coast is the royal road to riches -- why, you can get the chickens and feed on account, and then sell back the eggs (dozens every day!) to your creditors and local conveyors of comestibles, quickly building a quick and easy stream of ever-increasing income without any outlay or hard work! -- and drags his boyhood friend Jeremy Garnet into the scheme. Of course it doesn't work as Ukridge expects, since nothing ever could, and of course there's a love plot for Jeremy, plus angry creditors, rural policemen, and wise but unheeded blue-collar types, since this is a Wodehouse novel.
The whole isn't quite as sublime as Wodehouse at his prime -- this is a very early novel, from 1906, and he was still working out the details that worked best for him -- but it is sublime, and silly, and frothy, and deeply, deeply frivolous in the very best way. I recommend it, and three or four dozen other Wodehouse books (choose one to taste), for whenever the press of non-frivolous life becomes too strong.