Book Review: Leave it to Psmith

Borrowed the audiobook version read by Jonathan Cecil from our local library.

I like Wodehouse — that is to say, I am trying to acquire a taste for Wodehouse — and I have tried reading several of his books in the past. Sometimes, life gets in the way and I don’t get to finish the book before it is due back at the library.

I have to say, experiencing the book this way was quite enjoyable and rewarding. Listening to an audiobook freed my hands up to do other things, eg knitting. Also, other people could listen and enjoy as well.

Ronald Eustace Psmith — the ‘P’ is silent, we are told — is looking for a sea change.  He has previously been helping his uncle in his fish business and he has had enough. He is looking for a new job, any type of work, as long as it doesn’t involve fish. He puts an ad in the newspaper offering his services.

Meanwhile, over at Blandings Castle, which is where most of the story takes place, Lady Constance has invited the Canadian poet, Ralston McTodd, to come and stay. Her brother, Lord Emsworth has been tasked to go pick him up in London.

Joe Keeble, Lady Constance’s husband, is anxious to give some financial help to his stepdaughter, Phyllis — his first wife’s daughter — and her husband Mike. He is also worried about Lady Constance’s careless attitude about her very expensive necklace by not keeping it in a safe place. Lady Constance dismisses both concerns.

Lord Emsworth’s son, Freddie Threepwood, suggests ‘stealing’ the necklace, and thereby getting some money to be able to give to Phyllis. He later gets cold feet, and seeing Psmith’s ad in the paper decides to hire him to do the job.

This is probably enough of a synopsis without giving too much away. There are several other characters and they all have an important role to play in terms of moving the story along at a exciting and hilarious pace.

Jonathan Cecil did a great job reading, giving each character — and there were a great many of them! — as distinct a voice as possible. However, I have to admit some of the voices and accents were a bit muddled. Why does Joe Keeble have an Australian/New Zealand accent, for example? And some of the ladies had unusually low voices. Other than that, it was an extremely satisfying listening experience. Try to keep up and don’t get confused by all the different characters and subplots!

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Posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2016, in Books, Fun, Humour and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I have loved Wodehouse since I discovered him in high school. (My violin teacher’s husband gave my brother and me his duplicates.) It is hard to pick a favorite series, but Psmith is at least in the running for the best character. Jonathan Cecil’s classic audiobooks are delightful – we have listened to several of the Jeeves books. Our local library doesn’t have any of the Psmith ones in audiobook, but the fact that they exist is a thrilling discovery. I may be able to find them elsewhere.

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    • Yes, I listened to The Inimitable Jeeves, also read by Jonathan Cecil. Very nice!

      I looked up YouTube for Wodehouse on audio, and there are some, but they are all read by Americans — with American accents. No. Just no. It’s just wrong if it isn’t with a British accent.

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