Three Men and a Maid (by PG Wodehouse)

I've enjoyed reading books by PG Wodehouse for many years now; I started with some of the 'Jeeves' series in my teens. The books are set in the early part of the 20th century, generally featuring upper and upper-middle class men and women. 

Wodehouse has a wonderful way with words, and while I don't laugh out loud, in general, I regularly find myself smiling as his phrasing. I was very pleased to discover several of his books available for the Kindle; better still, they could be downloaded for nothing from Project Gutenberg.

Billie - also known as Wilhelmina Bennett - is the star of this book, which is also known as 'The Girl on the Boat'. At the start of the novel, Billie is engaged to a young man whose mother is an eminent writer and lecturer in an obscure field. And she (the mother) does NOT want her son married.

Another young man is also in love with Billie, and ensures that the planned wedding does not happen. While this doesn't sound like the opening to a humorous light-hearted novel, in the hands of PG Wodehouse the most sombre of plots take on an amusing hue.

Most of the story takes place on a cruise ship, where romance blossoms between Billie and yet another young man. The plot is complicated still further by a stately British home being rented without its owner's permission... the owner being the above-mentioned esteemed writer, who is supposed to be doing a lecture tour in the USA.

To add to the mixture, there's a warm-hearted butler who likes to read light romances, a friendly (if unintelligent) dog, and a suitably placed suit of armour. The story moves apace, in typical Wodehouse style, ending with rather a farce in the stately home before the somewhat abrupt, inevitable conclusion.

This is not a long book; I felt it would make excellent light reading for anyone who enjoys Wodehouse. Recommended.

Links are to one of the many paperback editions of 'Three Men and a Maid', but it's still available free as an e-book from Project Gutenberg, or in Kindle format for low price via Amazon.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 3rd May 2011

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