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Pigs Have Wings

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P.G. Wodehouse around age 38

Pigs Have Wings is a comic novel by P.G. Wodehouse that first appeared as a serial in Collier's Weekly between 16 August and 20 September 1952. It was first published as a book in the United States on 16 October 1952 by Doubleday & Company, New York, and in the United Kingdom on 31 October 1952 by Herbert Jenkins, London.[1] It is the seventh 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

The absent-minded Lord Emsworth finds himself once again embroiled in fierce rivalry in the pig-rearing arena with his neighbor, the obese baronet Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe. With Emsworth's champion Empress of Blandings in line for a third straight victory in the fat pig category of the local agricultural show and Parsloe unsportingly bringing in a ringer from another county, suspicions run high on both sides. Meanwhile, as usual, Blandings also has its full complement of romantic entanglements and misunderstandings. Fortunately for all, the Hon. Gally Threepwood, Emsworth's ever-resourceful younger brother, is on hand to straighten everything out.

Plot, detailed

Lord Emsworth, his brother Galahad, and butler Beach, hearing that their devious neighbor Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe has done the unthinkable and brought in a new and enormous pig from Kent, are in turmoil. Galahad and Beach are desperate to protect their savings, already confidently invested in a wager on the mighty Empress, while Emsworth is, as ever, suspicious of his gloating neighbor.

Parsloe, meanwhile, is regretting becoming engaged to Gloria Salt, an athletic young lady who has put him on a strict diet. His suspicions of Galahad lead him to put his pig man, George Cyril Wellbeloved, on a drink-ban too, a move of which Wellbeloved wholeheartedly disapproves; Parsloe also, on the advice of Emsworth's formidable sister, Lady Constance Keeble, orders a large quantity of "Slimmo", a dieting product, to aid his distasteful new regimen. Hearing about this suspicious purchase, a worried Galahad calls in Beach's niece Maudie Stubbs, an old acquaintance and now proprietor of a detective agency, to keep an eye on things.

Penelope Donaldson, the unmarried but strong-headed daughter of Emsworth's rich American brother-in-law, departs to London for the day, planning to meet with her boyfriend under cover of a dinner with an old friend of her father's. The boyfriend, Jerry Vail, an impecunious mystery writer, however, is forced for financial reasons to entertain his old flame Gloria Salt and reluctantly cancels the date. At dinner, Salt tells him that Emsworth needs a secretary, that she can ensure his position, and suggests that talking pig to the Earl will get him the cash he needs to buy into a health farm and make his fortune.

Vail heads to Blandings, but Connie is suspicious, having heard his name when he called to cancel his date with Penny. Penny is furious, having been taken to Mario's by Lord Vosper and seen Jerry with the attractive Gloria. When Jerry eventually explains sometime later she is chastised, especially as, thinking that her man had betrayed her, she had then accepted Vosper's proposal of marriage.

Parsloe's pig man, Wellbeloved, visits Blandings to ask Gally to provide him with a drink (all the pubs in Market Blandings having been forbidden to serve him), and Gally takes the opportunity to snatch Parsloe's pig, stashing it in the hut in the West Wood. Wellbeloved, however, upon his return to Parsloe's finding the pig gone, nabs the Empress in turn and puts her in the pen at Parsloe's place to cover up.

Vosper and Gloria Salt, their old love revived, run off together to be married, after Gally helps Vosper get out of being engaged to Penny, and Gloria writes to Parsloe ending their engagement. Wellbeloved spots Beach furtively heading for the shed, but his call to tell Parsloe of his discovery is intercepted by Gally, who has Beach move the pig to a nearby house, recently vacated by Gally's old friend "Fruity" Biffen.

Meanwhile, Emsworth, stricken with a cold, has been smitten by Maudie (posing as Mr. Donaldson's old friend Mrs. Bunbury), and writes a letter to her declaring his love, which he has Vail place in her room. But she, however, makes a visit to Parsloe, with whom she once had an understanding to be married, intending to give him a piece of her mind. All is soon cleared up, and the two become engaged. Emsworth, on hearing this, sends Vail to retrieve his letter, but misdirects him into Connie's room; on finding Vail hiding in her closet, Connie promptly fires him.

Finding the Emsworth Arms uncomfortable, Vail leases the cottage with the pig in it. Fearing that Vail will give the game away, Gally dashes to the cottage, but Vail has already been visited by a policeman and Wellbeloved. Gally removes the pig by car, but soon returns, having found the Empress in the Queen's sty and retrieved her. They head back to Blandings to tell Emsworth, leaving Beach, exhausted from cycling over, sleeping in the cottage. On their return, Parsloe is there, having been told by Wellbeloved that the Queen was in the kitchen and having had Beach arrested for stealing his pig.

Gally explains to Parsloe that the Empress is in the kitchen, and that the Queen in her sty, up-ending Parsloe's machinations. He then persuades Emsworth to invest in Vail's health farm, in gratitude for having found the pig, and Connie gives him another £500 for Beach, to prevent the butler from suing Parsloe for wrongful arrest. And finally, Parsloe's butler, Binstead, having been refused a refund on the Slimmo no longer needed by his master, feeds it to the pig in the sty, thinking she is still the Empress...

Main characters

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. 86–87.

External links