Love Among the Chickens

Love Among the Chickens

Infobox Book |
name = Love Among the Chickens
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = Front cover and spine of the 1909 Circle Publishing edition of "Love among the Chickens"
author = P. G. Wodehouse
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series =
subject =
genre = Comic novel
publisher = George Newnes
release_date = June, 1906
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages =
isbn = NA
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Love Among the Chickens" is a novel by P. G. Wodehouse, first published as a book in the U.K. in June 1906 by George Newnes, London, and in the U.S. by Circle Publishing, New York on May 11 1909, having earlier appeared there as a serial in "Circle" magazine between September 1908 and March 1909. A substantially rewritten version was published in May 1921 by Herbert Jenkins.

It was Wodehouse's first novel to be published in the United States, and the only one to feature the recurring character Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge.

Plot introduction

The novel is written in the first person, from the point of view of Jeremy Garnet, an author and an old friend of Ukridge. Seeing Ukridge for the first time in years, with a new wife in tow, Garnet finds himself dragged along on holiday to Ukridge's new chicken farm in Dorset. The novel intertwines Garnet's difficult wooing of a girl living nearby, with the struggles of the farm, which are exacerbated by Ukridge's bizarre business ideas and methods.

Plot summary

Jeremy Garnet, novelist, hears that his old friend Ukridge is back in England, getting involved in chicken farming in Dorset. He is preparing to head out of town for a time, it being rather uncomfortable in London during the summer, when Ukridge himself arrives at Garnet's flat, with his new wife Millie in tow. Ukridge explains his egg-selling scheme, assuring Garnet it is sure to make them both a fortune, and using his forceful personality, persuades Garnet to accompany him down to the farm; there will, he assures his friend, be plenty of golf and sea-bathing available. On the train on the way down, they are joined in a compartment by a pretty, brown-haired girl named Phyllis and her elderly Irish father. By coincidence, Phyllis is reading a copy of Garnet's new novel, given to her by Molly MacEachern.

They arrive at the house, meet hired man Beale and his wife, and settle in. Next day a consignment of hens arrives, and they spend some busy days putting up fences and building coops; Ukridge buys various supplies on credit, and begins to arrange to supply eggs to various outlets. One day, chasing an escaped hen, Garnet tumbles into a garden containing the girl from the train, her father Professor Derrick, and a friendly young navy man named Tom Chase, whose familiarity with Phyllis irks Garnet. They recapture the chicken, and Garnet is invited to lunch, stays to play croquet afterwards, and his love for Phyllis is sealed.

Soon the Ukridges invite their new neighbours over for dinner, but the cat gets stuck up the chimney and they are unable to cook. Fed cold food, and upset by Ukridge's small talk, especially concerning the problem of Irish devolution, the Professor leaves in a cloud of anger, and Garnet finds himself in his beloved's father's bad books.

The chickens become ill, and Garnet, on his way to fetch help, runs into Phyllis, who shows him some friendliness. Later, bathing at the beach, he spies the Professor, fishing from a boat. He hatches a plan, bribes a local, Harry Hawk, to upset the Professor's boat, and saves him from the sea, restoring the man's faith in him. He visits Phyllis, but is interrupted in his wooing by Chase, who hints that he is wise to Garnet's boat plot, and thrashes Garnet at tennis.

With the chicken farm struggling, a local informs Derrick of Garnet's boat plot, and he finds himself once again despised. He buries himself in the farm and his writing, but after a week he comes across Phyillis alone, and explains his actions to her. He declares his love, and she returns it, revealing that Chase is in fact engaged to her sister Norah, but adds that her father, loathing Garnet, would never consent to them marrying. On Ukridge's advice, they beard the man in the sea, and Garnet announces his love for Phyllis, but only makes Derrick angrier.

Garnet finds himself up against the Professor in the final of a local golf tournament, which, he has learned, the Professor has long been desperate to win. He plays a wily game, and wins the Professor round, giving him the match but winning his consent. Returning to the farm, he finds the Ukridges disappeared, apparently bolted to London to flee their creditors.

A swarm of said creditors arrive, and begin ransacking the farm; they have turned to the chickens when Ukridge returns, bearing wealth courtesy of Millie's Aunt Elizabeth. He berates the assembled throng, and sends them off with fleas in their ears. Later, Garnet finds Ukridge on the beach, and hears of his plan - to start up a duck farm...

Characters in "Love Among the Chickens"

* Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, the irrepressible entrepreneur
** Millie, his new wife
*** Beale, their hired man
* Jeremy Garnet, a friend of Ukridge, a novelist
* Professor Derrick, Ukridge's Irish neighbour
** Phyllis, the professor's daughter
*** Tom Chase, their house-guest
* Harry Hawk, a local man, who hires out his boat to fishermen
* "Aunt Elizabeth", a temperamental hen, named after Millie's aunt

ee also

* List of Wodehouse's Ukridge stories

External links

* [ The Russian Wodehouse Society's page] , with numerous book covers and a list of characters
* [ Fantastic Fiction's page] , with details of published editions, photos of book covers and links to used copies
* [ An analysis of the book] , with pages of synopsis, character and setting lists, quotes, and notes on literary and cultural references
* [ Free eBook of "Love Among the Chickens"] (1920 rewrite) at Project Gutenberg

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