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A Gentleman of Leisure by P.G. Wodehouse (thoughts)

October 9, 2013

A Gentleman of Leisure by P.G. Wodehouse
I’ve had great fun with Wodehouse in the past and am well acquainted with both Jeeves and Psmith, so when someone suggested him as a good bedtime audiobook option, I searched my catalogue. The title currently available was A Gentleman of Leisure, which turned out to be a standalone novel featuring Jimmy Pit, a hero very much in the Jeeves rather than Bertie mode. Sadly, though, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as other Wodehouse books I’ve read. It was good but not great, at least for me.

In part, I’m sure, this is due to the facts that several of the key characters are American and the audiobook has a British narrator (Frederick Davidson). I find most Brit’s attempts at American accents so painful that they ultimately leave me feeling distracted and cranky (in both audiobooks and BBC shows); in fact, if I’d realised there were so many American characters, I wouldn’t have begun this.

Aside from that, Molly Peats, Jimmy’s love interest, drove me insane. She’s such a little goodie two shoes, all sweetness and light; the kind of thing I might expect in a Victorian novel but I feel Wodehouse could have done better. Once again, the narrator exacerbated this, with the cloying faux American falsetto he used for Molly’s dialogue. It’s funny, usually experiencing the audio version of a book really deepens my experience of it, but in this case I think I should have stuck to paper!

Grumbling aside, there’s still lots of zany Wodehouse antics, and I often found myself laughing at one scene or another. I enjoyed it enough to stick with it, and it’s not by any means a bad book. It just lacks that Wodehouse magic (perhaps because of the narrator? or just because with such a prolific author, some books are bound to be stronger than others?), so in future I’ll definitely stick with Jeeves and Psmith, especially in audio format. I’m also eager to explore his Blandings Castle books, which are entirely new to me. Luckily, my library has many Wodehouse audiobooks, with a variety of narrators!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2013 1:52 pm

    I wonder if you have liked it more if you had read it instead of doing an audiobook? I just cannot get used to audiobooks although I try and try.

  2. October 9, 2013 5:31 pm

    I really loved Frederick Davidson’s narration of The Inimitable Jeeves. I just checked my review of it and the one story I didn’t like as much in The Inimitable Jeeves was the one set in NYC. I don’t remember being bothered by a bad American accent, but maybe it was a factor and I just don’t recall.

  3. October 9, 2013 6:15 pm

    I never love Wodehouse as much as I think I should, but I’m fully a Psmith girl and not a Jeeves or standalone novels girl. All Psmith all the time.

  4. October 10, 2013 6:52 am

    I’ve long thought that I might enjoy Wodehouse, but am paralyzed to start because of his prolificness. I just don’t know where to start, you know. Suggestions?

  5. aartichapati permalink
    October 13, 2013 9:21 am

    I have liked the limited Wodehouse I’ve read, but I do find the stories somewhat repetitive and very situation comedy-based, so don’t ever feel very connected to the characters

  6. October 14, 2013 2:19 pm

    Hi there. Hate to be the negative one, but I’ve never been a fan of Frederick Davidson’s narrations and avoid his work. He’s not a typical British narrator, rolling off each sentence like the story’s an instruction manual.

  7. October 27, 2013 1:00 am

    Blandings is definitely worth reading. I enjoyed it immensely and went back to it over and over. My library sadly doesn’t hold the Blandings collection!

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