Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Trouble and romance are in the offing when two adventurers descend upon Blandings Castle incognito - all because of Lord Emsworth, an innocent kleptomaniac who steals a collector's rare treasure.
Ashe Marson and Joan Valentine meet by accident and you know it will soon be love. But the two young people, both starving writers, find themselves at odds when they independently accept the challenge of retrieving a precious scarab for an American collector. They infiltrate Blandings' complex caste system of the servants, braving a keenly suspicious secretary and Lord Emsworth's reckless use of firearms.
Meanwhile, young muttonhead Freddie Threepwood (an equal to Bertie Wooster in lazy amiability, and with much the same taste in literature), is engaged to the American collector's daughter, Aline. But he has an energetic rival who plans on wooing Aline right out from under Freddie's nose....
The coveted Egyptian scarab (a worthy rival to the silver cow creamer in its ability to act as a cursed object) that drives the plot in the first of the Blandings Castle stories. Wodehouse showcases his usual effortless wit and introduces the Blandings crew, though Ashe and Joan steal center stage with their (non-malicious) plotting. We are treated to a glimpse of the stratified serving class and a very funny conversation about women's suffrage where Joan compares Ashe's chivalry to a dead mouse her proud cat might bring her as a gift. The romances are sweetly credible - especially Joan and Ashe, who are each other's equals as well as soulmates.
The third person narration gives Wodehouse scope to move into different perspectives, but his wonderful storytelling voice remains true (though this isn't his most cohesive plot). The best thing to follow Wodehouse with is obviously more Wodehouse, so The Code of the Woosters, featuring another MacGuffin plot and country manor setting, may be right up your alley.
"Collecting, as Mr. Peters did it, resembles the drink habit. It begins as an amusement, and ends as an obsession." - 50
"Oh, I've nothing to say against Freddie. He is practically an imbecile and I don't like his face, but apart from that he's all right." - 61