- Something Fresh
name = Something Fresh
P. G. Wodehouse
language = English
September 16 1915
media_type = Print (Hardback &
isbn = NA
Leave it to Psmith
"Something Fresh" is a
novelby P. G. Wodehouse. The story first appeared as a serial in the Saturday Evening Post between June 26and August 14 1915. It was first published as a book in the United States, by D. Appleton and Companyon September 3 1915, under the title "Something New", and in the United Kingdomby Methuen& Co. on September 16 1915.
The novel introduces
Lord Emsworthof Blandings Castle, whose home and family reappear in many of Wodehouse's later short stories and novels; Wodehouse later dubbed this series of stories "the Blandings Castle Saga" in the 1969 preface to this bookCite book
author = Wodehouse, P. G.
year = 1969
chapter = Preface [new since the 1969 edition]
title = Something Fresh
quote = "Something Fresh" was the first of what I might call – in fact, I will call – the Blandings Castle Saga..
Young neighbours and fellow-writers Ashe Marson and Joan Valentine, newly met and both in need of a change of direction, find themselves drawn down to Blandings, for various reasons attempting to retrieve a
scarabbelonging to an American millionaire, absent-mindedly purloined by Lord Emsworth. Once within the Castle's idyllic walls, despite impersonating servants, romance cannot help but blossom; meanwhile, Freddie Threepwood, engaged to the millionaire's daughter, is worried about some incriminating letters....
The novel begins with Ashe Marson, a young writer employed by the Mammoth Publishing Company, the creator of the popular "Gridley Quayle" detective novels, doing his daily exercises. Joan Valentine, a young girl living in the same apartment building, looks on and laughs at him. Thus she and Ashe meet, discover that they work for the same publishing house, and Ashe is encouraged to look for a new opportunity among the newspaper ads.
Meanwhile, we find out that
Freddie Threepwood, the younger son of the 9th Earl of Emsworth, is engaged to be married to Aline Peters, the daughter of American millionaireJ. Preston Peters. Freddie pays a visit to his friend R. Jones, hoping to "recover" some letters he sent in the past to a certain chorus-girl, feeling they might be dangerous in her hands, especially following the recent embarrassment of his cousin Lord Percy Stockheath. He pays Jones £500 to sort things out for him.
Clarence Threepwood, the elderly Earl of Emsworth, calls on J. Preston Peters, Aline's father, a passionate collector of
Egyptian scarabs. Peters shows him the most precious piece in his collection: a 4th dynasty Cheops. Mr. Peters is called to the telephone, and the absent-minded Earl, forgetting all about the scarab, puts it in his pocket.
Aline Peters has lunch with her old friend George Emerson, a
Hong Kongpolice officer who wishes to marry her. He proposes to her once more, and tells her that, having befriended Freddie Threepwood, he has been invited to Blandings.
Mr Peters discovers the disappearance of his scarab, and suspects the Earl, but cannot confront him for fear of endangering his daughter's marriage. The Earl has already forgotten everything that happened, and thinks the scarab was a gift of Mr Peters.
R. Jones finds the address of Freddie's ex-sweetheart, Joan Valentine, who tells him she has long since destroyed any letters she may have had from Freddie. As he is leaving, Aline Peters, a close friend of Joan, arrives on a visit, allowing the suspicious Jones to listen at the door. He hears Aline's father is offering £1,000 to anybody that can retrieve his scarab. Joan decides that she will go herself to
Blandings Castle, posing as Aline's maid, recover the scarab and scoop the reward.
Ashe, following Joan's advice, scours the adverts in the newspaper, and seeing one which grabs his attention, he goes along to an interview with Mr. Peters, who is looking for somebody to pose as his
valetand steal the scarab. Ashe, showing Peters some pep, gets the job.
Ashe tells Joan about this, and they both take the train to Blandings. During the trip Joan warns Ashe of the highly complicated system of
etiquetteobserved among servants of a large house. She hopes her words will persuade him to give up his quest, but he resolves to do his best.
After their arrival, Ashe meets Baxter, the Earl's efficient and suspicious secretary, on the way to Mr Peters' room, addressing him in a highly un-valet-like manner. He finds that Mr Peters, like Beach, has problems with his
stomach, so persuades him to do some exercise and stop smoking cigars.
At night, Ashe and Joan are both trying to get at the scarab when the watchful Baxter hears them. Ashe, with his prepared excuse of reading to the
insomniaMr Peters, helps Joan escape. Next morning, Ashe and Joan decide to become allies and, after flipping a coin, that Ashe will take first try at steaing the scarab.
Aline is following the same diet of her father, composed mainly of
legumes, and George, worrying she is suffering from malnutrition, prepares a feast to bring it to her at night. As he makes his way to her room, he and Ashe in the dark hall of the castle, and start a noisy fight. Baxter rushes in, but by the time the lights come on Ashe and George have fled, leaving Baxter surrounded by food and broken china. He is blamed for waking everyone and roundly criticised by his employer Lord Emsworth.
The next night is Joan's turn, but the scarab is already gone. The following morning, Ashe finds that Freddie needs money to pay R. Jones for the letters to Joan; he confronts Freddie, who confesses, and Ashe gets the scarab and gives it to the rightful owner, Mr Peters.
George Emerson, recalled to
Hong Kong, sadly wishes Aline good luck with Freddie; Aline, her mothering instinct finally aroused by his disappointment, decides to leave Freddie and elope with him. Ashe and Joan finally realise they are made for each other, and enter Mr Peters' employ. Lord Emsworth agrees to let Freddie return to London, on condition he doesn't make a fool of himself again.
Characters in "Something Fresh"
* Ashe Marson, a writer of detective novels
* Joan Valentine, Ashe's neighbour, who edits a gossip magazine
* Aline Peters, an old friend of Joan Valentine
** J. Preston Peters, Aline's father, a wealthy Scarab collector
* The Earl of Emsworth, absent-minded master of Blandings
Freddie Threepwood, his younger son, engaged to Aline
** Lady Ann Warblington, Emsworth's widowed sister, chatelaine of Blandings
Rupert Baxter, Lord Emsworth's very efficient secretary
Sebastian Beach, dignified head butler at Blandings Castle
** Mrs Twemlow, housekeeper at the Castle
* George Emerson, a Hong Kong police officer, in love with Aline
* R. Jones, an obese bookmaker, a friend of Freddie Threepwood
In the US version of the book, a few minor alterations were made. In this version both Ashe Marson and Joan Valentine are Americans living in England, he coming from a town called "Hayling", near
Boston, Massachusetts, and she being born in New York. Similarly, George Emerson is not a Hong Kong policeman, but a member of a New York law firm.
The 1972 US paperback edition published by Ballantine (still titled "Something New") contains the text of the original UK edition of "Something Fresh".
* Complete list of the Blandings books
; Sourced consulted
* [http://wodehouse.ru/19.htm The Russian Wodehouse Society's page] , with photos of book covers and a full list of characters
* [http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/w/p-g-wodehouse/something-fresh.htm Fantastic Fiction's page] , with details of published editions, photos of book covers and links to used copies
* [http://www.aowy95.dsl.pipex.com/Wodehouse/PGWbooks/PGWsf.html An analysis of the book] , with pages of synopsis, character and setting lists, quotes, and notes on literary and cultural references
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