Book Review : HOT WATER by P.G.Wodehouse

Like millions around the world, I’m a P.G.Wodehouse fan. Unlike many, I don’t have a favorite character or cast… but love all his zany creations.

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Which is probably why a story with Soup Slattery, Oily Carlisle, Mr.Gedge and Packy Franklyn – along with, of course, the Vicomte de Blissac – ranks as my all-time favorite Wodehouse book.

It’s titled ‘Hot Water‘.

Everyone in the story tells a white lie (or, even a black one). And each untruth adds another layer of complexity to what was already a rather tricky cauldron of personalities and events.

  • There’s a safe breaker on vacation at a tropical resort.
  • A con man pretending to be a millionaire’s friend.
  • A suitor forced to act like he’s a barber (and wreaks devastation on his unexpected client).
  • A romantic poet who’s anything but that.
  • And a pretty damsel both barber and poet are in love with.

Lying at anchor offshore is a luxury yacht that plays a pivotal role in the shenanigans. It serves as a retreat from curious eyes, a safe haven for an absconding ‘murderer’, and a secret rendezvous for romancing couples.

The most hilarious scenes and conversations happen at a celebration of the Festival of the Saints at St.Rocque.

A drunken bash where a unique cocktail called Gustave Specials are served that “make you feel like the little brother of mankind“.

Soup and Gedge meet, and the conversation begins with:

“Well, I’m darned”
“Ee-yah!’ said Mr Gedge.
‘Ee-yah!’ said Mr Slattery.
‘Whoops!’ said Mr Gedge.
‘Whoops!’ said Mr Slattery.
‘Well, well, well!’ said Mr Gedge.

They’re just getting introduced to each other. Packy and the Veek join their party. Soon, drinking happily and deep, they toast the Gustave Specials…

“Three cheers,’ he cried buoyantly, ‘for the Gustave Specials!’
The Vicomte went further.
‘Four cheers for the Gustave Specials!’
And Mr Slattery further still.
‘Five cheers for the Gustave Specials!’
‘Ten!’ vociferated Mr Gedge, topping the bidding. ‘All together now, boys. Ten cheers for the Gustave Specials!’

It became increasingly evident to Packy that this was going to be one of those evenings.”

And that’s just the beginning!

From here, events take on a rollicking pace, go through unexpected twists and turns.

Everyone’s an impostor. Nothing’s as it seems. All appears a tangled mess, impossible to resolve.

And then, almost magically, it’s all solved.

Happiness and peace reign universally. (Well, almost universally)

As readers, we’re left with a deeper reverence and respect for the wordsmith and master craftsman who weaves such convoluted tales while making us laugh out loud.

Does it again and again.

With such a diverse cast of players.

And as a result, lives on forever in our imagination.

If you’ve never read P.G.Wodehouse before, ‘Hot Water‘ is a great place to get acquainted.

If you’ve read dozens of his books but not yet come across ‘Hot Water‘, it’s your lucky day!

If you’ve already enjoyed ‘Hot Water‘ like I have, it’s time to give it another go – because it’s just as much fun the n’th time around.

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