After reading a handful of books from Stephen Fry and daily blog posts from That Kind of Girl whose writing is very much inspired by the inimitable Wodehouse, it was time to test the waters.
The trouble with Wodehouse is picking a title. With a career that spanned 70 years and produced close to 100 published novels and short story collections, it’s difficult to know where to begin. My choice was made for me, however, as I came across a copy of Mulliner Nights for the princely sum of £2 tucked away on a bottom shelf at my local Fopp. Lovely.
It turns out that Mulliner Nights was an excellent choice, particularly for my tastes. It’s a collection of short stories narrated by one of Wodehouse’s famed protagonists, Mr Mulliner, who regales tales of his nine juniour Mr Mulliners. As an added bonus, more than one of said stories heavily feature cats.
Despite their predictability, Wodehouse’s expert storytelling and portraits of sneakery, humiliation, and redemption are unwaveringly brilliant. Though Roald Dahl’s short stories have clear signs of his influence, Wodehouse is different in that he teases but never tortures his Mulliners. We know the cat will drink some whiskey, get drunk, and break the spell of gentility over his reluctant owner, but Wodehouse’s delightful descriptions tickle and tease through his acute mastery of language.
Whether you’re new to the wonderful Wodehouse or an existing admirer, Mulliner Nights is a simple, fun read.