The Old Reliable


Author : P.G. Wodehouse

Play : The Old Reliable

First Broadcast on : 5 December 1954

The characters Wodehouse creates have a wide range of professions. While there are some standard professionals, like butlers, and rich, young men who don’t have to wag a whisker for their pennies, and lawyers, etc. some harbour, and live some very unique careers.

In this book, The Old Reliable, Wilhelmina Shannon, the protagonist and the wonder woman to the rescue (therefore the title, ‘the old reliable’) is a writer who finds herself out of job. If only she had bought an income protection policy. And therefore she accepts the lowly task of writing the biography of her sister, Mrs. Adela Cork, an actress from the era of the silent movies. Mrs. Adela Cork happens to have purchased a property belonging to the late Mexican actress, Carmen Flores, who while alive, led a scandalous life and documented it all in her secret diary for the benefit of the future generations. And the diary would sell for good bucks in the Hollywood market. And who doesn’t want good bucks? Well, it’s not just Ms. Bill Shannon. There is a brother in law of Mrs. Cork, Semdley, who Ms. Bill has the hots for who originally plans on hunting the diary. The butler at the house (who else) reaches the same conclusion. And thankfully Semdley has the entire family, which also includes a cousin of Ms. Bill, a certain Kay, and her lover on his side. But it is upto Ms. Bill to outwit the butler in the chase for the legendary diary.

The plot as usual, is pretty thick with a lot of very lovable characters thrown in. And for the more intellectual reader, Semdley and the butler, really have multiple dimensions if you’d really want to look for them. The butler, though clearly the villain, is extremely likable. And Semdley, with the good guys behind his back, is the kind of a guy who you’d see with a girl and wonder what the hell she saw in him.

It’s a hilarious read, with a longish climax, which is fun all the way. And this is one Wodehouse novel which the ending is not predictable in your usual way. So, well, have fun!

Posted by Himanshu at 7:19 AM