The Mating Season, P.G. Wodehouse
Arrow Books, 272 pages
Life is not a bowl of cherries for man-about-town Bertie Wooster. His aunt Agatha, the especially horrid one “… who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth…” has landed Bertie with a repulsive cousin for three days. Once this cousin leaves, Bertie is due to perform at a village concert at Deverill Hall in Hampshire, a Tudor manor populated by five overbearing aunts, their charming if submissive nephew Esmond Haddock, and a visiting wet blanket by the name of Gussie Fink-Nottle. While contemplating the grim social prospects, Bertie receives a visit from his dear friend, Catsmeat Pirbright. Catsmeat and his sister Corky are both successful actors, and they, too, will be at Deverill Hall for the concert. Bertie brightens at the news until he learns that the atrocious aunts have put Catsmeat’s engagement in jeopardy, and that the spineless Esmond may swoop in to woo the unsuspecting Gertrude. It is up to Bertie Wooster, with a little help from the stalwart Jeeves, to set matters to rights. Once at Deverill Hall, however, one love triangle quickly turns into four, identities are swapped, and mayhem ensues as Bertie narrowly misses an engagement with the farcically simple-minded Madeline Bassett. Wodehouse’s writing is always a bit of a madcap romp, and The Mating Season is especially fun. Reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, this sparklingly witty novel entertains from the first page to the last.