As I'm sure most of you already know, I'm a huge fan of PG Wodehouse! So, I had a spot of free time this past week, and I snuck into the library to look for a bit of pleasure reading. And, well, I've started Barmy in Wonderland twice in the past three years (this was the third attempt) without ever getting past the first few chapters. Nothing against the book...I mean, it's hilarious. Classic Wodehouse. But, I just had too much going on in the past to really settle down with it. I convinced myself this time that if I checked out this book, I HAD to finish it.
I think what first attracted me to this particular Wodehouse book (my campus library has a healthy selection of his works) was the fact that it was about Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps (pronounced "Fungy" Phipps), who happened to be a favorite of mine from the Jeeves and Wooster TV series. He was just so endearing (and highly clueless), and I really enjoyed the character. The thought of spending just shy of 200 pages with him seemed quite delightful.
Anyways, so that's how it started. And, now, I'm thrilled to say that I've finally made it through the book! So, perhaps a quick plot summary is in order?
Englishman (and Drones Club member) Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps has come to America, and has been for some time working as a desk clerk in JG Anderson's Washington Hotel. And their current guest, a Mr. Mervyn Potter (American actor of both the stage and screen, and notorious alcoholic) is causing more than his share of trouble, such as encouraging Barmy to get drunk and put a frog in his employer's bed in the early hours of the morning, or the like. And when Barmy comes into a small fortune, which Anderson says should be invested in something safe, such as purchasing the Washington (a highly profitable hotel) so that Anderson can retire to Florida, Potter quickly misdirects him into backing the Broadway musical flop he's soon to be starring in. To top it all off, Barmy runs into the girl of his dreams: Eileen "Dinty" Moore, and things just get more and more entangled.
The thing I love so much about Wodehouse is that he's always good for a laugh. His situations are ridiculous, the characters completely original, and the dialogue always has me busting a gut. I've heard it said that it's impossible to be sad when reading Wodehouse, and I'm sure that this holds true for Barmy in Wonderland in particular. Another thing I love about these books is the suspense. And to be sure, this book (especially the last few chapters) is packed with page-turning, nail-biting suspense. Exciting and enjoyable. This is a book which I would totally read again, and 100% recommend.