Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bachelors Anonymous

Bachelors Anonymous
© 1973 P.G. Wodehouse
191 pages

"It is never agreeable for a man who is engaged to one girl and has just proposed to another to find himself in the company of both of them."

Ivor Llewellyn and his lawyer Mr. Trout have been through five divorces together, but it's time to say goodbye. Llewellyn is headed for England, but he leaves with parting advice from his good friend Trout:  for heaven's sake, man, steer clear of marriage!  Trout's own secret at avoiding matrimony is simple: he belongs to a discrete club of gentlemen who, when one of their members is headed down the slippery slope of copulation, rescues him.  At the first batted eyelash, the first romantic date, the members of Bachelors Anonymous step in fight off the lady-types and redeem their pal.  While there is no such club in England, Trout suggests that his friend look into employing some reasonably level-headed fellow in London who can help safeguard him from unwanted female affection.  They find such a man in young Joe Pickering, whose heartfelt first play has just been ruined by a diva stealing all of the lines.  In the comedy of errors that follows, however, and a string of coincidences so preposterous that even the characters are boggled at them,   the book ends with at least two marriages.  Wodehouse is a delightful absurdist; there is some pleasure just in the silly situations he comes up with, but the style of the story works to great effective. The characters are often pompous, and Wodehouse sneaks in little barbs that are completely nonsensical, but in a novel of this sort not altogether rout of place. He informs the reader, for instance, that one particular character’s  flight to England arrived on time, thanks to the complete lack of a hijacking.  It’s so apropos of nothing, and yet if the flight was hjacked, it’s the sort of  random happenstances that would fit into a crazy, silly story like this. This is nothing but entertainment, of course, but it’s lively and stylish.

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