Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mike and Psmith

Mike and Psmith (Psmith, #1)Mike and Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When ace cricketer Mike Jackson is pulled from Wrykyn by his father for a bad report, Mike has the misfortune of being sent to Sedleigh. Fortunately for him, this is where he meets Psmith...

Some days, you just want to read about a guy wearing a monocle that calls everyone "Comrade" and generally stirs the pot.

Mike and Psmith is an early P.G. Wodehouse novel about Mike Jackson's tenure at Sedleigh and his befriending of one Rupert Eustace Psmith. The P is silent, as in Psychotic and Pteradactyl. Since it's an early Wodehouse, it feels more akin to the school stories that were popular in Britain in the early 20th century than Wodehouse's "musicals without the music" comedies later on in his career, when he was in mid-season form.

While he was clearly still finding his footing, Wodehouse still supplied some comedic gold in Mike and Psmith, chiefly in Psmith, the whole reason I nabbed this book in the first place. It was here that Wodehouse saw the potential he had in Psmith, who would later go on to overshadow Mike Jackson time and time again in Psmith, Journalist, Psmith in the City, and Leave It to Psmith.

Mike and Psmith was originally written as a serial and the book feels that way. Mike and Psmith go from one episode to another, involving secretly playing cricket, a painted dog, the Archaeology club, making enemies, etc.

The parts featuring Psmith were by far the most interesting but it's hard to look away when that monocle-wearing socialist is on stage. Psmith makes me want to call everyone Comrade and tell outrageous lies with a straight face. He's the spiritual ancestor of Wodehouse's other smooth operators like Galahad Threepwood and the Earl of Ickenham, Uncle Fred.

For historical significance and all the fine Psmithery, I'm giving it a three but it lacks some of the fun of later Wodehouse novels.

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