Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Old Reliable

P. G. Wodehouse
The Old Reliable

This is much like Spring Fever, in that it is a bit boring, has lots of typos, mildly satirises Hollywood, and presents a warped view of romance.  The title character is "Aunt Bill," short for Wilhelmina, a down on her luck writer who one, has had a mostly unrequited crush on her sister's brother-in-law for twenty years even though he's scared of marriage; two, encourages her friend Joe to keep proposing to her niece Kay, even though Kay has turned him down fifteen times and he has threatened to break a bottle over Kay's head; and three, slips a Mickey Finn into Joe's drink to make Kay feel sorry for him.  (It works.)  Meanwhile, Bill is ghost-writing her sister's autobiography about being an actress in the silent-movie days.  And there's a red-hot diary by another actress, now dead.  And a butler who knows how to crack safes.  And lots of quotes of Shakespeare by Bill.  And it feels rather stale, all the more so for then almost 70-year-old Wodehouse attempting to be modern.  (At one point he uses "Hedy Lamarr" and "Lily Langtry" in the same sentence.)

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