Reading tips: How to read PG Wodehouse: 14 Plums

Robert Pimm
Robert Pimm

“The Plums of Wodehouse” is a great introduction to PG Wodehouse.   It is also stuffed with pre-selected quotations, known as “Plums”.

Where to start with Wodehouse?  Which Jeeves book should you read first?  What is the best reading order?

I have read all 20 volumes of my father’s splendid Folio Society Wodehouse collection.  What joy these books have brought to the world!

But greater experts than I, such as the fabulous fellow WordPress blogger Plumtopia, who specialises in the works of P G Wodehouse, have pointed out that there is much more to “Plum” than Jeeves and Wooster and Blandings, splendid as they are.

So I was delighted to discover recently another Folio Society edition, The Plums of P G Wodehouse.  

My Folio Society edition of “The Plums of P.G. Wodehouse”

Plums includes not only a series of splendid short stories ranging across the Wodehouse canon, such as “Uncle Fred Flits By” (one of the funniest PG Wodehouse stories I have read); Mulliner’s Buck-U-Uppo and Ukridge and the Home from Home; but also a series of pre-selected quotations, described aptly as “Plums”, sprinkled throughout the book.

14 selected “Plums of Wodehouse”

I recommend The Plums of P G Wodehouse.  Here, to whet the appetite, are my 14 selected quotations:

  • He mused on Lady Constance, and wondered if there were any other men in the world so sister-pecked as he.  It was weak of him, he knew, to curl up into an apologetic ball when assailed by a mere sister.  Most men reserved such craven conduct for their wives.  The Crime Wave at Blandings
  • The subject of bereavement is one that has often been treated powerfully by poets, who have run the whole gamut of the emotions while laying bare for us the agony of those who have lost parents, wives, children, gazelles, money, fame, dogs, cats, doves, sweethearts, horses and even collar studs.  But no power has yet treated the most poignant bereavement of all – that of the man half-way through a detective-story who finds himself at bedtime without the book.  Mulliner Nights
  • Nature, stretching Horace Davenport out, had forgotten to stretch him sideways, and one could have pictured Euclid, had they met, nudging a friend and saying: ‘Don’t look now, but this chap coming along illustrates exactly what I was telling you about a straight line having length without breadth.’  Uncle Fred in the Springtime
  • Like most people who have made a defiant and dramatic gesture and then have leisure to reflect, he was oppressed by a feeling that he had gone considerably further than was prudent.  Samson, as he heard the pillars of the temple begin to crack, must have felt the same.  Gestures are all very well while the intoxication lasts.  The trouble is that it lasts such a very little while.  Summer Lightning
  • ‘Anybody who was content to call you fairly good-looking would describe the Taj Mahal as a pretty nifty tomb.’  The Clicking of Cuthbert
  • She could not have gazed at him with a more rapturous intensity if she had been a small child and he a saucer of ice-cream.  The Clicking of Cuthbert
  • Vladimir specialised in grey studies of hopeless misery, where nothing happened till page three hundred and eighty, when the moujik decided to commit suicide.  The Clicking of Cuthbert
  • The fact that he was fifty quid in the red and expecting Civilisation to take a toss at any moment had caused Uncle Tom, who always looked a bit like a pterodactyl with a secret sorrow, to take on a deeper melancholy.  The Basset was a silent bread crumbler.  Angela might have been hewn from the living rock.  Tuppy had the air of a condemned murderer refusing to make the usual hearty breakfast before tooling off to the execution shed.  Right Ho, Jeeves
  • Like so many heavily moustached men, Mr Duff was unaware of the spiritual shock, akin to that experienced by Macbeth on witnessing the approach of the forest of Dunsinane, which the fungus had on nervous persons who saw it suddenly on its way towards them.  Quick Service
  • His standing with her, he perceived, was now approximately what King Herod’s would have been at an Israelite Mothers’ Social Saturday Afternoon.  Young Men in Spats
  • ‘Every day I realise more clearly that sooner or later I shall ask her to marry me.’  ‘Don’t do it,’ said Mr McKinnon, a stout bachelor.  ‘You’re too young to marry.’  ‘So was Methuselah,’ said James, a stouter.  Honeysuckle Cottage
  • She looked at the mauve-pyjamaed occupant of the bed with that quiet affection which hostesses feel towards guests who have not smashed their furniture…  Uncle Fred in the Springtime
  • ‘I didn’t know married men had any joie de vivre.’  All’s Well with Bingo
  • Somebody tapped on my door.  I sat up in bed, electrified.  Except for Macbeth, I should imagine the few people have ever been quite so startled by a nightly knocking.  Ukridge and the Home from Home

How to start reading Wodehouse

If you are a novice Wodehouse fan and unsure how to get started, you may like to peruse my first blog on this subject, How to read P G Wodehouse: a practical guide.  

What else can I recommend?  Recent pleasures have included Thank You, Jeeves (click link for five wondrous quotations). You may also like Right Ho, Jeeves (14 fruity quotes).  Ring for Jeeves and Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves both teem with quotables.  My review of Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit contains no less than 22 delicious highlights.  Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen is one of my favourites: a mere ten excerpts, but all top-notch.

If you would like to sample my own efforts at comic writing, take a look at my collection of Seven Hotel Stories.

You can explore the range of writing on this site via my five pleasure paths.  All my Wodehouse blogs are here.

P.S. Do you like Wodehouse?  If so, you might want to subscribe to my weekly newsletter (you can unsubscribe anytime you wish).  I’ll send you a free “Hotel Story” to say thanks!  Or I would be delighted if you would like to friend me on Facebook.  

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