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Once upon a time, I had this book on cassette tape, read by Frederick Davidson. And even then, with my favorite Wodehouse reader at the mic, I thought it was a shade or two below perfection. Seeing Nigel Lambert's rendition, I thought I'd give it another go. Maybe I just missed the gist last time around.
No really. In the chorus line of books P. G. Wodehouse managed to assemble in his long and productive life, this is one of the few that's out of step. The pacing, which is everything in a Wodehouse story, just isn't snappy enough. The plot isn't tangled enough. Chesney, a criminal who's wormed his way into the castle by way of Freddie Threepwood's introductory letter, isn't given a chance to create any real chaos. In fact, every plot device, from the fresh batch of imposters to the latest medical bulletin from the Empress' sty, have been handled with much greater dexterity--and generate much greater delight--elsewhere in the Wodehouse canon. As Bertie Wooster might say, this one just isn't up to sample.
I think that's why Nigel Lambert, another one of my favorite Wodehouse readers, sounds like he's trying too hard. His younger females, who usually sound charming, come off as goofy here. And Galley Threepwood, a man whose efforts to bring the young folks together are always fueled by the memory of his own broken romance, needs to be a little more worldly-wise, a tad less perky, than Lambert plays him.
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