Having either read or listened to a number of the Blandings Castle stories, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Lord Emsworth and his loone..Show More »y family. I guess this book was probably written early in the series, before Freddie's marriage and the introduction of "The Empress". Although it contains many of the same plot elements of other Blandings sagas, there is a lot more action "below stairs" in this one which really does make it SOMETHING FRESH.
If you want a bit of fun, this book is for you. The narrator is perfect for the story. I enjoyed this book immensely. It has all the elements that you..Show More » would expect of a P.G. Wodehouse story. If you like this sort of comedy, you won't regret listening to this. Jonathan Cecil really reflects the class and era of the story's setting. Utterly charming and delightful in every way. I loved it.
As a long-time Wodehouse fan, I've read many of his books, watched most episodes of Jeeves & Wooster, and listened to a whole lot of the radio dramas ..Show More »and audiobooks. And this particular audiobook isn't one of the best.
Something Fresh isn't a bad novel - though with less laugh-a-minute potential than some of the other Blandings-series stories - but Frederick Davidson's very affected vocal style isn't really suited to longer novels like this, with so many different characters. It's fine when he uses a very effete, almost effeminate voice for Bertie Wooster (who doesn't appear here), but he doesn't have a whole lot of range.
All the men under 30 sound like fruity idiots; all the women sound like airheads (quite literally); all the older men sound uniformly gruff; and the various American accents are neither accurate nor consistent.
More problematically - and again, I realize this is sometimes a matter of personal taste - Davidson seems to miss jokes all the time. Most of Wodehouse's hilarity lies in knowing just how to say a line like "Percy's always been a bit of a nut - I say, what?" for maximum effect, and Davidson doesn't seem to have the knack.
Overall, if you're thinking of an audio version of Something Fresh, I recommend going with the Jonathan Cecil version instead of this one - Cecil just seems better at interpreting Wodehouse on a consistent basis.
This book is fantastic, one of my favorite titles by Wodehouse. While listening to this title, I had an epiphany about the inspiration and influence ..Show More »that Douglas Adams found in the work of P.G. Wodehouse, especially for the Dirk Gently series by Adams - my absolute favorite books. The writing style, clever use of the English language, and the fundamental interconnectedness of all things (including all elements of the plot) brought me to a new of appreciation of both authors' work.
The thing about reading—or listening to—Wodehouse is that his characters live such long, complex lives. Bertie Wooster, for example, made his first ap..Show More »pearance in 1919 and his last adventure was published in 1974, the year before Wodehouse’s death. Consequently, the happily married man in the novel you just finished reading may have a backstory you know nothing about. Beyond, of course, the arch allusions to his checkered career made by his wife, his relations or the narrator in the novel you just finished reading.
It all adds to the odd realism of Wodehouse. Keen observers like Evelyn Waugh asserted that the England Wodehouse writes about never really existed. Yet the appearance and reappearance of places and characters, the ability to see the same character from several other characters’ viewpoints, the interweaving of characters— for example, Bertie Wooster and Tipton Plimsol both belong to the Drones and therefor must have at least a nodding acquaintance—all contribute to this queer substantiality, making the England of P. G. Wodehouse, Utopian as it is, as solid as Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.
All of this is by way of explaining why Blandings Castle is such an enjoyable listen. You get the back story of how Freddie Threepwood met and married Niagara “Aggie” Donaldson. You finally understand what a character in one of the later Blandings Castle novels was talking about when he describes Lord Emsworth as being worried about his pumpkin (your natural reaction is to assume it’s a typo; he must have meant “pig”). You discover the surprising family connection between Lord Emsworth and his head gardener. And you get the full story, only alluded to in later books, of the chap from Nebraska.
Beyond these revelations that do so much to illuminate the rest of the Blandings Castle saga, you get “Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend”, probably one of the sweetest stories Wodehouse ever wrote; not saccharine sweet but rather revealing an unsuspected tenderness and solicitude on the part of the ninth earl.
So much for the first six stories in this collection. The other six are a delightful grab bag: one featuring Bobby Whickam, the rest the various nephews and connections of Mr. Mulliner who work in Hollywood. Bobby’s tale is pure Wodehouse lunacy and the last story, “The Castaways” is a writer’s-eye view of Hollywood that should not be missed—especially if you’re a writer.
James Saxon’s performance makes me wish he’d record more Wodehouse. His characters all live as individuals in your ear buds and his vocal range covers every Wodehousian nuance, from the sprightly and brainless to the dark and dubious.
I will agree with the other reviewers that the sound quality and narration for Summer Lightning are both sub-par. I often found myself missing phrases..Show More » and more often found myself cringing at the narrator's high pitched voices, particular the women's voices in this story. I didn't find the sound, however, to be so bad as to ruin the book for me. Summer Lightning features a fantastic, looping plot and is just brimming with wit. Listening to this version of it takes a little more work that the normal audio book does (and should), and hopefully some version will be put out eventually to replace it. But Wodehouse fans shouldn't miss Summer Lightning, even if it takes suffering the less pleasant aspects of this recording to do so.
P.G. Wodehouse blends all the usual elements in "Summer Lightening", one of the "Blandings" novels. As expected, we find Clarence, the 9the Earl, his..Show More » imperious sister Constance--daughter of 100 Earls--the eternally youthful Gallahad--the only distinguished member of the family--Beech, the butler, and an assortment of other characters who fill the slots in the standard Blandings formula: star-crossed lovers, impoverished suitors and the inevitable visitors to Blandings who find they must assume a disguise to secure entry into that favored realm. Wodehouse brings just enough fresh material to each installment in the series to keep it enjoyable, while trotting out enough of the old standby pieces to make one feel that one is safely on terra cognita.
The problem with this particular recording, in my opinion, is that John Wells lacks the remarkable talents of the other narrators one finds in the Audible library. Jonathan Cecil, Frederick Davidson and the absolutely pitch-perfect Nigel Lambert all manage to create distinct voices for each of the characters in these densely-populated works. John Wells' voice is pleasant enough in the general narration, but he does not create a unique voice for each of the characters--not even the main characters who occupy the majority of the book's focus.
It takes more than a sub-standard narrator to ruin Wodehouse, but I would recommend one of the recordings by the masters in lieu of this one.
Jeremy Sinden has captured P.J. Wodehouse so very well in Heavy Weather.
The plots and subplots are delightfully entwined and keep Galahad on..Show More » his toes. While would be high profile personages are plotting to steal Galahad's ms, others see a fortune in publishing same. Meanwhile the Earl is determined to prevent his neighbour stealing his award winning pig. And then some. A most enjoyable listen. I would like to hear Sinden read more of Wodehouse.
The reviews I read about this classic were good, with a few negatives that made me wonder if I was going to like this book, but it was a fun listen. ..Show More » There were only a couple of laugh-out-loud spots, but it's the cleverness and wit throughout the book that made it enjoyable.
I think people don't really talk like this in England, it does seem like it's an old-fashioned speech of a British stereotype, but it's a lot of fun to hear the unusual turn of phrases. The narrator did a great job with the accents and different characters.
The writing is ingenious in the line of an "Oh what a tangled web we weave . . . " plot line as untruths, bent truths, deceptions, impersonations, rigged gambling and card tricks ensue. The characters are beautifully described and memorable. Even the Empress, a large pig is has a rounded out character to which she stays true.
The story is a pleasant diversion from daily life, but not something to listen to in the background as all the machinations and trickery going on from beginning to end require the listener to pay close attention to keep up with the story.
If you appreciate a complex plot with funny and manipulative people, you might enjoy this book too.
Like Frederick Davidson, Jeremy Sinden gets the inner meaning of Wodehouse, extracting every drop of irony, sarcasm, mock-melodrama or just plain humo..Show More »r from every single line. His vocal portrayals are pitch-perfect; one gets a visual image of every character. His timing and pacing are impeccable. His diction is downright Harovian. Or Etonian, take your pick.
But then again, like any actor with a great script, Sinden has a lot to work with here. Full Moon is one of the highest spots in the Wodehouse bookshelf, a tumultuous romp through the spreading park lands and messuages of Blandings Castle, where:
Veronica Wedge ("the dumbest blonde in Shropshire") and Tipton Plimson ("rather a self-centered young man") find love
Colonel Egbert (complete with service revolver) and Lady Hermione Wedge (who looks like a cook) find a rich son-in-law
Bill Lister ("Blister" to his pals) finds he isn't cut out for the life artistic but is cut out for life with Prudence ("that little squirt") Garland
Lord Emsworth ("that woolen-headed peer") finds peace when everybody finally clears out of his house and leaves him with his prize porker, Empress of Blandings and his favorite reading, "On the Care of the Pig", by the great Augustus Whiffle
And the Hon. Galahad Threepwood finds he can make it all come about with an adroit mixture of lies, half-truths, tall tales, brisk staff work...and putting the Empress in Veronica's bedroom.
Don't worry, I haven't given anything away. In Wodehouse everyone--at least, all the deserving ones--get exactly what they want. The fun--and there is a great deal of fun here, served up with no unstinting hand--is seeing how they get it. Jeremy Sinden makes Wodehouse in your ear buds even better that Wodehouse off the printed page.
It's the usual romp at Blandings Castle, and by "usual" I mean unusual--a small universe that runs on it's own sligh..Show More »tly off-balance dynamics. There's the continuing struggle for porcine supremacy between the ninth earl and his neighbor, Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, Bart. Sir Gregory's struggle to lose a few pounds, and thus allay his future wife's fears that she will be accused of bigamy before she leaves the sacred edifice. There's Jerry Vale, a writer of detective fiction and temporary secretary to Lord Emsworth who wants enough cash to open a health establishment. And there's his betrothed, Penny Donadlson, who's also betrothed to Orlo, Lord Vosper. Add a former barmaid who now runs a detective agency and who once almost married "Tubby" Parsloe, a pig man who has been denied the beer that is so much a part of his daily routine and might do anything to get a pint, and a third pig--which is to say another pig altogether, neither Lord Emsworth's Empress of Blandings nor Sir Gregory's Pride of Matchingham--and you have enough to be getting by with.
But most importantly, there are six large, economy-size bottles of Slimmo.
Jeremy Sinden does it all more than justice. In fact, he is superb--as good as his stellar performance on Full Moon. From the quality of his voice to the way he inflects it for comic effect or bends it to portray a lord, a pig man or a young daughter of an American manufacturer of dog biscuits, he is flawless. It's a book and a performance you will be able to enjoy again and again.
Pair with _Uncle Dynamite_ to double your pleasure
I've long been a fan of Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster, and I knew and liked Lord Emsworth, but Lord Ickenham, the master manipulator in _Service with..Show More » a Smile_ may be my new favorite. Lord Ickenham (Uncle Fred to his friends and relations) believes in "spreading sunshine" wherever he goes. He also believes that there's nothing quite so fun as traveling under an assumed name. In this book he return to Lord Emsworth's domain to help out yet another star-crossed lover. In the course of his sunshine spreading, he reunites the lovers, recovers a kidnapped pig, assists a hardworking blackmailer and ruins the plans of one of the most unpleasant and unscrupulous characters I've ever encountered in a Wodehouse novel. The yuks flow easily and, as always, at the end of the book all's right with the world. Nigel Lambert's narration is excellent, providing easy differentiation between the various characters (both male and female.) I never fully understood how befuddled Lord Emsworth was until I heard Mr. Lambert's comically appropriate "Hmms?" and "Hrmphs."
I've enjoyed reading P. G. Wodehouse, but listening to Nigel Lambert flawlessly personify all the characters was a far superior experience. As a coll..Show More »ection of short stories, Lambert has to create voices for a large number of characters, since the cast changes from story to story. He seems to be channeling Wodehouse himself.