Friday, September 22, 2006

Love among the Chickens by P. G. Wodehouse

I would like to argue that the USDA-approved food pyramid should include a modest helping of angel food cake topped with chocolate sauce and fresh raspberries, but I will not. Instead, I will pose that personal reading plans should include a serving of P. G. Wodehouse.

I just finished listening to Love among the Chickens by the 125 year old author. Oh, Wodehouse is deceased, but his work is still as fresh and completely silly as it was 100 years ago, and much of his work is still in print. Love among the Chickens was first published in 1906 and revised in 1921, but its story is timeless. Readers will not know if it is 1900 or 1930 or 1960. English countryside and village life are eternal, at least in comic literature.

In Love among the Chickens, Wodehouse introduces the character Stanley Featherstonehough Ukridge, who reappears in a short story called "Ukridge" in 1924. He is a large, loud, outlandish friend of the author of The Manouevres of Arthur, Jeremy Garnet, who does not have the sense to say "no" to a proposal to start a chicken farm without any capital expenditures. Ukridge argues that they can order chickens, raise chicks, and harvest eggs until creditors demand payment for the original chickens. At that point they can return the breeder chickens, and no one will object. They will even just borrow the farm. Ukridge and Garnet will have pure profit with little work. It is foolproof. Garnet plans to spend most of his time playing golf. Of course, the scheme does not work as planned.

As in many Wodehouse novels, a young English man falls madly in love with a beautiful and sweet young English woman with a father who objects strenuously. I often laughed out loud.

Librarians should make sure they still have a supple of Wodehouse in their collections. Unfortunately they will have trouble adding this title in print, as Baker and Taylor has no copies. The audiobook is available from the publisher.

Wodehouse, P. G. Love among the Chickens. 4 compact discs. North Kingstown, Rhode Island: BBC Audiobooks America, 2005. ISBN 0792738217

1 comment:

Nonanon said...

Oh, I must get this. Thank you for the review. (And, since my brother recently brought three chickens home to his very urban neighborhood, I have a certain interest in the subject!)