Sam the Sudden

sam-the-suddenWhat ho, Colorado Wodehouseans! Another meeting looms over us when we meet this Sunday, Jan. 10th, to discuss Sam the Sudden at our usual haunt, Pints Pub in downtown Denver, at 12:30 p.m.

In keeping with a long tradition we just instituted at our November 2015 meeting, we had tasked the person who had argued for the next book to be discussed to provide some quick notes. Here then, are member Joice’s remarks:

Sam the Sudden (US: Sam in the Suburbs), 1925

This 1925 gem introduces the reader to several locales and characters that appear in later stories (which enlightenment I owe to Richard Usborne, Madame Eulalie, and the handy Who’s Who in Wodehouse). Notably absent in the story, however, are landed gentry, which may contribute to this book’s popularity among Plum’s readership. There are wealthy relatives and moneyed individuals who have worked for their wealth, but no coddling among their offspring who are sent out into the world, intentionally or by circumstances, to make their own way in the world.

Valley Fields appears for the first time, a city reminiscent of the West Dulwich of Wodehouse’s boyhood, so it is no surprise that Wodehouse returns to Valley Fields in other books later. Some of the references in the story have been traced to real Dulwich locations, including the San Rafael/Mon Repos residences. Seemingly a somewhat minor character, but pivotal (as it turns out), is Percy Cornelius, lifelong Valley Fields resident whose amateur history of VF provides Sam with the final piece of the treasure mystery. The bungling burglary trio of American crooks makes its first appearance in Sam the Sudden (with reappearances coming in several later novels), a perfect foil to the protagonist’s search for the hidden treasure.

We discover the many ways that Sam is “sudden” in the way he lives his life impulsively, and can come to admire the extent to which he knows himself and trusts his instincts. Those instincts seem to serve him well in his role of “Aunt Ysobel,” purported author of “Chats with My Girls” in Mammoth Publishing’s magazine Home Companion, a publication apparently both widely read and highly trusted by its targeted readers. Despite being one of Plum’s favorite characters (as noted in his introduction), Sam Shotter never again makes an appearance in his output—after all, Sam found his true love, Kay Derrick, and a whole lot of money in this one, so no longer interesting fodder for further adventures. It’s a good thing that Kay looks forward to a future life with Sam filled with more entertaining adventures, for he’s like a big impetuous puppy.

If you enjoyed Sam the Sudden as much as I, perhaps you’ll want to add Ice in the Bedroom (1961), a loose reworking of this same story and also set in Valley Fields (so no surprise that Percy Cornelius makes another appearance), to your future reading list. I’ll probably wait a while, though, so that, like Plum, it will be a return to an old friend.

OK, back to me the narrator and thank you Joice for an excellent summary of the book. I’m really impressed that Joice even remembered our new tradition because I had completely forgotten it. She could have squeaked by with no one the wiser, but noblesse oblige and all that. I just hope our new tradition won’t silence the vigorous cut and thrust to which we’ve all grown accustomed while proposing the next book to be read.

A few updates for those who follow our blog posts: I realize that I never saved member Larry from the malady that afflicted him last year while he was visiting the Holy Land. He’s completely recovered and we should see him Sunday (or he’s very much in trouble). Unfortunately member Mike (the first Mike, not the second), finds himself in hospital recovering from the effects of cancer treatment (which he successfully concluded). All our best wishes to Mike and more information can be obtained from occasional member Lee or member Mike the Second (see the email address list to contact them for more information about Mike the First).

And just a warning to those attending Sunday: street parking has been greatly reduced around Pints Pub because of construction, but bear in mind that street parking in free on Sunday. You can also legally park at the Dozens Restaurant across the street from Pints Pub, but get there early. We hope to have a new member this Sunday, so please no bread roll tossing.

I almost forgot—as an amuse bouche, we’re also supposed to have read Jeeves and the Yule-tide Spirit, which you’ll find in the collection Very Good, Jeeves, although no points off if Yule-tide festivities made that impossible.

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