“Heavy Weather” – a Blandings novel by PG Wodehouse

Robert Pimm
Robert Pimm

A review of the magnificent “Heavy Weather” by PG Wodehouse.  In this Blandings Castle comedy, Galahad Threepwood, or Gally, plays a starring role.  

The six Blandings Castle novels by PG Wodehouse in my Folio Society edition are:

I have previously reviewed those highlighted in the bold italics that indicate links to other posts on this site.

Heavy Weather
Heavy Weather by PG Wodehouse

I particularly enjoyed in Heavy Weather the gradual increase in all-round absurdity in the love triangle between Ronnie, Sue and Monty Bodkin.  Ronnie and Sue are crazed with love for one another.  Monty is a rather Bertie Wooster-ish sort of fellow who arouses Ronnie’s jealousy.  The ability of The Hon. Galahad Threepwood or Gally, Lord Emsworth’s younger brother, to resolve every manner of looming catastrophe is worthy of the great Jeeves himself.  The plot around Gally’s memoirs, and their incendiary contents about the youthful misdemeanours of the entire British establishment, is elegant.  I was disappointed by their fate at the end of the book (no spoilers) – and still hope, one day, to see them published.

22 laugh-out-loud quotations from Heavy Weather by PG Wodehouse

  • Cooled by the shade of the cedar, refreshed by the contents of the amber glass in which ice tinkled so musically when he lifted it to his lips, the Hon. Galahad, at the moment of Lord Emsworth’s arrival, had achieved a Nirvana-like repose.  Storms might be raging elsewhere in the grounds of Blandings Castle, but here on the lawn there was peace – the perfect unruffled peace of those who have done nothing whatever to deserve it.
  • The Hon. Galahad Threepwood, in his fifty-seventh year, was a dapper little gentleman on whose grey but still thickly covered head the weight of a consistently misspent life rested lightly… It was a standing mystery to all who knew him that one who had had such an extraordinarily good time all his life should, in the evening of that life, be so superbly robust.
  • [Galahad] ‘No healthy person really needs food.  If people would only stick to drinking, doctors would go out of business.  I can state you a case that proves it… Old Freddie Potts… lived almost entirely on Scotch whisky, and in the year ’98 this prudent habit saved him from an exceedingly unpleasant attack of hedgehog poisoning.’
  • ‘My name’s Sue Brown,’ said Sue, wishing that she could have achieved a vocal delivery a little more impressive than that of a very young, startled mouse.
  • [Beach the Butler] ‘Perhaps you would prefer me to bring you an aperitif in advance of the formal cocktails?’ [Ronnie] ‘I certainly should.  I’m dying by inches.’ [Beach] ‘I will attend to the matter immediately.’  The butler of Blandings Castle was not a man who when he said ‘immediately’ meant ‘somewhere in the distant future’.  Like a heavyweight jinn, stirred to activity by the rubbing of a lamp, he vanished and reappeared; and it was only a few minutes later that Ronnie was blooming like a flower in the gentle rain of summer and finding himself disposed for leisurely chat.
  • ‘Honestly, Ronnie, I know it hurts your head to think, but try to just for a moment.’
  • Sir Gregory was not a man of the build that leaps from chairs, but he had levered himself out of the one he sat in with an animation that almost made the thing amount to a leap.
  • Beach walked slowly away across the lawn.  His head was bowed, his heart heavy.  It was a moment when a butler of spirit should have worn something of the gallant air of a soldier commissioned to carry despatches through the enemy’s lines.  Beach did not look like that.  he resembled far more nearly in his general demeanour one of those unfortunate gentlemen in railway-station waiting-rooms who, having injudiciously consented at four-thirty to hold a baby for a strange woman, look at the clock and see that it is now six-fifteen and no relief in sight.
  • The ideal towards with the City Fathers of all English country towns strive is to provide a public house for each individual inhabitant; and those of Market Blandings had not been supine in this matter.
  • [Beach] plunged into a droll anecdote about the Bishop of Bognor when an undergraduate at Oxford, and despite his cares was soon chuckling softly, like some vast kettle coming to the boil.
  • [Beach] Rising with the manuscript clutched to the small of his back, if his back could be said to have a small…
  • Too often, when a man of Monty Bodkin’s mental powers is plunged in thought, nothing happens at all.  The machinery just whirrs for a while, and that is the end of it.
  • Ronnie did not speak immediately.  He appeared to be engaged in swallowing some hard, jagged substance.
  • ‘Don’t you realise that, even under the best of conditions, there’s practically nothing that won’t make a sensitive, highly-strung girl break off her engagement?  If she doesn’t like her new hat… or if her stocking starts a ladder… or if she comes down late to breakfast and finds all the scrambled eggs are finished.  It’s like servants giving notice.’
  • Pausing halfway to the door, the Hon. Galahad saw that a peculiar expression had come into his nephew’s face.  An expression a little like that of a young Hindu fakir who, having settled himself on his first bed of spikes, is beginning to wish that he had chosen one of the easier religions.
  • It is fortunate that the quality of country-hotel turbot is such that you do not notice much difference when it turns to ashes in your mouth, for this is what Monty’s turbot was doing now.
  • The heavy breathing that came through the window could only be that of a parsimonious man occupied in writing a cheque for a thousand pounds.
  • [Lord Emsworth] leaned back against the cushions and women’s voices began to beat upon him like rain upon a roof.

A quote or two about Blandings itself:

  • Shropshire, which yesterday had been so depressing a spectacle, was not an earthly paradise.  The lake glittered.  The river shone.  The spinneys were their friendly selves again.  Rabbits were darting about in the park with all the old carefree abandon, and as far as the eye could reach there were contented cows.
  • Darkness had fallen on Blandings Castle, the soft, caressing darkness that closes in like a velvet curtain at the end of a summer day.  Now slept the crimson petal and the white. Owls hooted in the shadows.  Bushes rustled as the small creatures of the night went about their mysterious businesses.  The scent of the wet earth mingled with the fragrance of stock and of wallflower.  Bats wheeled against the starlit sky, and moths blundered in and out of the shaft of golden light that shone from the window of the dining room.
  • The Hon. Galahad looked out over the moon-flooded garden.  In the distance there sounded faintly the plashing of the little waterfall that dropped over fern-crusted rocks into the lake.

Finally, a quote illustrating Lord Emsworth love for his prize pig, the Empress of Blandings, when he is confronted by Lady Constance over an action he is about to take:

  • ‘Does this miserable pig mean more to you than your nephew’s whole future?’ ‘Of course it does,’ said Lord Emsworth, surprised at the question.

Do I recommend Heavy Weather by PG Wodehouse?  You bet.

If you’d like to look at my own comic writing, take a look at Seven Hotel Stories.

Seven Hotel Stories

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