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Full Moon

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P.G. Wodehouse around age 38

Full Moon is a comic novel by P.G. Wodehouse, first published in the United States by Doubleday & Company on 22 May 1947, and in the United Kingdom by Herbert Jenkins on 17 October 1947.[1] It is the sixth full-length novel to be set at the idyllic but intrigue-ridden Blandings Castle, home of the amiable but woolly-minded backwoods peer Lord Emsworth.

Plot overview

Clarence, 9th Earl of Emsworth, is forced to play host to his younger son, the Hon. Freddie Threepwood, while two of his nieces, Prudence Garland and Veronica Wedge, are romantically entangled with, respectively, the Hon. Galahad Threepwood's godson Bill Lister and American millionaire Tipton Plimsoll. Complications ensue when the near-alcoholic Tipton thinks that Bill's gorilla-like face is an apparition brought about by too much drink; while Lister, briefly purporting to be a notable artist named Landseer, is commissioned to paint the portrait of Emsworth's prize pig, the Empress of Blandings; and in the midst of all this the valuable necklace of Freddie's wife, Niagara "Aggie" Threepwood, goes missing. Fortunately, the Hon. Gally is on hand to bring happy resolutions to all the problems.

Plot, detailed

Lord Emsworth is aghast to learn that his younger son Freddie is unexpectedly back in England from America, sent over to push Donaldson's Dog-Joy, his father-in-law's brand of superior dog food, to the English dog-owning public. He is far less concerned to hear that his niece Prudence Garland is being called a "dream rabbit" by an unknown man over the telephone. Freddie encounters Prudence in London and learns that her caller was none other than William Galahad (Bill) Lister, an old pal of his and the godson of his dashing uncle, the Hon. Galahad Threepwood; Bill and Prudence plan to elope and get married that very day.

The elopement is scuppered, however, when Prudence's mother Lady Dora has her sent to Blandings to cool off. Freddie and Galahad arrange for Lister to be near her, getting him a job painting Lord Emsworth's pig, Empress of Blandings. Freddie's wealthy American friend Tipton Plimsoll, after a lengthy binge celebrating his new-found wealth, decides to lay off the booze after mistaking Lister's gorilla-like face for an apparition, and also heads down to Blandings with Freddie, who hopes to sell dog-biscuits to Tipton's stores.

At Blandings, Colonel Egbert Wedge and his wife,Lady Hermione Wedge, are excited by the prospect of their dim but beautiful daughter, Veronica, meeting such a wealthy man, even more so when the two hit it off immediately. Plimsoll, however, is then thrown off by the unexpected reappearance of the gorilla face (Lister having come to gaze up at his beloved's window), and by Veronica's apparently unabashed flirting with Freddie, to whom, he now learns, she was once engaged.

Lister's painting style in regard to the prize pig fails to please Lord Emsworth, however, and the two fall out, but Freddie, at Gally's suggestion, smuggles him back into the castle disguised as a false-bearded under-gardener, having first paid off Angus McAllister, the head gardener. Lister soon ruins things, however, when after scaring Plimsoll once more and terrifying Veronica, he mistakes her dumpy-looking mother for the castle's cook and tries to bribe her to pass a note to Prudence.

Gally heads to Blandings himself, for Veronica's birthday, and soon brings her and Plimsoll together by the simple expedient of putting the Empress in her bedroom. He also brings Lister with him, introducing him as another artist by the name of Landseer, counting on Emsworth's poor memory and the thick false beard to keep him from being recognized, but Freddie soon blows the gaff to Lady Hermione while Gally is off bribing Pott the pig man to keep quiet, and Lister is ordered to leave.

Also thanks to Emsworth's distracted nature, Freddie accidentally gives Veronica his wife's valuable diamond necklace (while the inexpensive pendant he had bought for her was sent to Aggie in Paris). Gally stifles a resurgence of jealousy in Plimsoll on seeing Vee in the necklace by laughingly telling everyone that it is only a cheap imitation—and Plimsoll instantly gives it to Prudence for the church jumble sale.

With Freddie desperate to send the necklace over to his increasingly irate wife, and threatening to disrupt Plimsoll and Vee's happiness in order to do so, Gally now proposes to hold the family to ransom, getting the family's blessing for Prudence and Lister's marriage in return for the necklace. Lister, lurking in the gardens, glimpses an overjoyed Prudence on a balcony, but cannot catch her attention, so he finds a ladder and climbs up to her bedroom. While doing so, he is spotted by Colonel Wedge, who mistakes him for a burglar and fetches footmen and his revolver.

Lister, hearing the Colonel outside Vee's door, flees along a ledge to a drainpipe. He climbs down the drainpipe safely, but lands on Pott the pig man, who keeps him there until Wedge arrives. When Wedge hears Lister's story from Gally, however, he is impressed with the man's spirit and leaves. Gally, however, reveals he has lost the necklace, but hopes to bluff his sister even so.

Plimsoll arrives to confront his gorilla-like nemesis and is delighted to discover that Lister is real, not a drunken apparition. Hermione joins them, and Gally successfully fools her into thinking he still holds the necklace for ransom. And Lord Emsworth, hearing from Gally that his son is in danger of being divorced because of the missing necklace and thereby returning home to the castle for good, hurriedly agrees to invest five thousand pounds in Lister's proposed business. When Gally tells Hermione where the necklace is (in the whiskey flask taken from his room by Plimsoll), she is annoyed to realize she has had it all along, Plimsoll having handed it to her when he still thought Lister was an hallucination. But by this time, it is too late for her to interfere any more with the upcoming marriage of the young lovers.

Main characters

See also

The affairs of Tipton Plimsoll and the Wedge family are continued in Galahad at Blandings (1965).

References

  1. McIlvaine, E., Sherby, L.S. and Heineman, J.H. (1990) P.G. Wodehouse: A comprehensive bibliography and checklist. New York: James H. Heineman, pp. 81–82. ISBN|087008125X

External links