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Our Intrepid Heroine

I'm a multitasking, knitting, cooking, voraciously-reading library worker who wants to spread her bibliomania as far as possible.

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Ash and Silver: A Sanctuary Novel
Carol Berg
The Sleeping Partner
Madeleine E. Robins
China Mieville

Bill the Conqueror

Bill the Conqueror - P.G. Wodehouse This was classic Wodehouse -- funny, charming, full of coincidences, mistaken intentions, and all the wrong people running into one another at exactly the wrong times.

The eponymous Bill, lazy and without direction, fancies himself in love with a gorgeous dame named Alice, whose brother (and Bill's top pal), Judson, is a drunk. Out of infatuation for Alice, Bill volunteers to take Judson to England to dry him out for a month or so while carrying out some vital business for his Rich Uncle on the side.

Once there, Bill runs into Flick, who has been in love with him of a sort since he saved her life five years before, only Flick has been coerced by her aunt and uncle into agreeing to marry Roderick, a stuffed shirt who is constantly afraid that he will be beset upon by hooligans seeking to beat his head in for libel. What with Roderick being in love with a stenographer, Flick being in love with Bill, Bill being in love with the idea of Alice (a love that is vague, obsessive, and dim), and Judson being in love with a spot of port, insanity is obviously just around the corner. Being Wodehouse, Bill has barely set foot upon English soil before shenanigans ensue, and of course it takes a few clever and tenacious women to even begin to sort out the mess.

There was actually quite a bit of character development in this book. Some characters remained fairly static: Roderick was spineless the whole novel, Uncle George remained a bully convinced of his own moral superiority, and Flick remained exasperatedly clever and determined throughout. However, the uncles were forced to act on their own actions and inactions, Bill went from hazy to determined, and Judson changed from a truly pathetic waste of human space into a rather hilarious, exasperating man quick to act when affronted. I found myself laughing hysterically at Judson's antics halfway through the novel and never fully stopping.

Bill managed to avoid the Wodehouse trope of the useless, bumbling fool who somehow gets the girl. It's fairly obvious why Flick likes him: in addition to being a bit dashing, he's very determined once he puts his mind to something, and while he's no strategist, Bill is a dedicated, solid bloke with a slow temper. He is very protective of his mates (even while being completely fed up with Judson) and, once someone points out a serious flaw in his reasoning (idleness, inattentiveness, missing something obvious), he goes about trying to correct the problem, including admitting that he was wrong. This is very attractive in a main character: the ability to admit to a flaw, then trying to fix it or at least get past it.

Bill didn't have so many of the ridiculous petty jealousies that seem to plague Wodehouse's Blandings men, and he possessed acute clarity of purpose whenever a blatant plot point fell into his lap. By the end of the book, I wanted to clap Bill on the shoulder: here is a character who realizes he's not as clever as the people around him, but he doesn't fret about it too much.

Overall, a fun, quick read for a snowy day spent inside. I think non-series Wodehouse novels are my favorite!