Book Review – Love Among the Chickens

Love Among the Chickens
P. G. Wodehouse
Narrated by: Mark Nelson
LibriVox (first published by Newnes)
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2007
(first published in June 1906, revised edition in 1920)

★★★

 

Jeremy Garnet, a second-rate novelist, gets talked into joining his old pal Stanley Featheringstonehaugh Ukridge in an insane plan to start a chicken ranch. Garnet should bail out on his crazy friend, but he falls in love with one of Ukridge’s neighbors, Phyllis. Soon he is up to his neck in sick chickens, bad debts, a hostile future father-in-law, a sinister plot, and dirty golf. It all gets a bit thick, what? (Summary by Mark Nelson) ~via Goodreads

As stated in my post A Perspective: Comedic Novels, finding a true comedic narrative, one that tells its story, is true to its form, but also showcases the author’s sense of humor, is a rare and wonderful thing. Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE, made a prolific career out of creating finely tuned works with his wonderful sense of humor and clever word play. While probably best know for his novels, he was also a playwright and lyricist who wrote 15 plays and contributed to many musical comedies. Love Among the Chickens is the first of P. G. Wodehouse’s books that I have listened to, but it will not be the last.

Set in England before the second world war, Love Among the Chickens tells the story of Jeremy Garnet, a novelist who finds himself involved in the scheme of his friend, Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge, to start a chicken farm. Garnet falls in love with one of Ukridge’s neighbors, Phyllis, and both the fowls and his better judgement run amok.

All LibriVox audiobooks are in the public domain and read by volunteers. This means that the books are older works and the narration can be a bit… dodgy at times. However, I have found it to be a treasure trove of classics. Mark Nelson’s narration of this work is excellent. His audio was clear and clean, his character voices were distinct without going overboard, and his style contains a certain enthusiasm and sophistication that is perfect for this book. The listener is left to suspect that he is a Wodehouse fan himself.

Love Among the Chickens is throughly entertaining. It brightens the spirit with a lighthearted comedy that doesn’t skimp on character development or storyline. Being a work set before the second world war and heavily influenced by British society and manners of that era, I was expecting it to be harder to relate to. I wasn’t expecting iambic pentameter … but its still almost 100 years old. I was shocked at how easily it flowed and how modern its tone felt. Its comedy is timeless and Wodehouse’s writing style is easily relatable.

I am giving Love Among the Chickens 3 stars and will definitely be adding more P. G. Wodehouse books to my list.

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