“The Man Upstairs” by P. G. Wodehouse – Review

As a Wodehouse aficionado I have read many of his books multiple times. But the man was so prolific that no matter how voraciously you read his stuff, it seems that there are always a few left that you haven’t got to yet.

So that’s how come I’m reviewing a Wodehouse – for some reason I’d thought for ages I’d read The Man Upstairs but when I picked it up for a short story while I was deciding which novel to read next, I found it completely unfamiliar. It’s a collection of his rather early short stories (1914) but despite that they are generally extremely entertaining, and perhaps because of that it’s also a little more varied, with stories not just concerning golfers and writers, but footballers, insurance clerks and knights of the round table (“In those days almost anyone who was not a perfect bonehead could set up as a Wise Man and get away with it. All you had to do was to live in a forest and grow a white beard.”). There’s even a story that doesn’t feature the usual Wodehousian happy ending.

The stories are extremely well crafted, with the classic Wodehouse characters…

“Keggs was a man–one must use that word, though it seems grossly inadequate–of medium height, pigeon-toed at the base, bulgy half-way up, and bald at the apex.”

…And wit:

“He had the appearance of one who has searched for the leak in life’s gas-pipe with a lighted candle.”

I’ve been saving up the stories and eking them out over time, but despite it being a generous compilation – there are 19 of them – I have alas reach the end. But if you are a Wodehouse fan and you have also somehow missed out on this one, all I can say is, remedy that with all haste.

“Don’t monkey with the man’s inkwell, Gladys.”


About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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