Seven of the Secret Nine convened to discuss A Damsel in Distress and it turns out the group really likes this early Wodehouse. There were some dark muttering that the person who suggested we read this book could not make the meeting. It’s really not cricket if you don’t show up to accept the accolades (or curses) of fellow members and instead are in “Iowa enjoying both resort life and farm life.”
Of course in this case it would be accolades, because there were several mentions of laughing out loud and not being able to put the book down. For many of us, it was discovering a new favorite, but member Janette showed up with her vintage Ionicus cover. For those of you who don’t know, A Damsel in Distress is like some sort of alternate reality where Blandings turns into Belpher and Emsworth into Marshmoreton. In other words, it’s P.G. Wodehouse’s 1919 novel that’s remarkably similar to the environs of Blandings Castle (the first novel of that series being published in 1914). It also features a muddle-headed, hobby-obsessed earl and his domineering sister and while there are no fat pigs, one should remember there was no fat pig in the first Blandings novel either. Oddly, Wodehouse must have intended Damsel to be a one-off, for he removes the earl from play at the end of the novel.
Several members remarked at the many literary allusions in the novel and how Wodehouse seamlessly melded verse into prose. And as usual in these early novels, members noted that many of Wodehouse’s references to the stage were real-world examples.
At the meeting, we decided to forgo the Bingo game for Aug. 15 as it would fall just two weeks before the Aug. 29 cricket match. As a reminder, anyone planning to attend should sign up what they intend to bring as refreshments/food (leave a comment on the link to the cricket match). Also, original member Mike is pursuing plans to purchase or rent a tent for the event, in which event it’s hoped we can reimburse him somewhat with a whip-round.
Also, member Janette offered to make her home in Nederland available for our October Wodehouse birthday tea. She says she’s taken classes in the art of making cream tea and could make us comfortably full of Earl Grey and scones. Of course we’d need a backup plan should inclement weather prohibit our trek into the mountains at that time of year (his birthday being Oct. 15). So members please discuss the feasibility of celebrating Plum’s birthday at altitude.
Finally we chose the next book for discussion at the September meeting. Since the humble author of this post will be abroad then, member Larry will be coordinating the meeting, which is tentatively set for Sept. 13, however an alternative meeting site must be found because Pints Pub, our usual haunt, will be closed because of Fiestas Patrias (Mexican Independence Day / Grito de Dolores) celebrations in downtown Denver. So our group must decide to either shift the meeting to another day or another venue.
We chose Carry On, Jeeves to discuss, which contains the story Jeeves Takes Charge, which was the very first story our group discussed. This time, we tackle the whole book (all ten short stories).