The Modern Mrs. Darcy recommended Quick Service in a collection of great British audiobooks. I was looking for something lighter than Beartown, and this looked promising. Plus, it gets me the coveted Q title for my Reading the Alphabet Challenge.
Length: 240 pages or 5 hours and 23 minutes
Narrator: Simon Vance
Setting: outside of London, late 1930s
Summary: Short version: Who can steal Mrs. Chavender’s painting first to sell to J.B. Duff?
Long version: Mrs. Chavender has had a had piece of ham. Since it was made by J.B. Duff, an ex-fiance who used to go on and on about his excellent hams, she decides to visit him and throw it in his face. Sally tries to get there before Mrs. Chavender for damage control (J.B. controls her fiance’s finances). She is unsuccessful, but captures the attention of J.B.’s assistant, Joc. Joc immediately agrees to becomes Howard Steptoe’s valet (Howard is an American married to Mrs. Chavender’s relative who owns the house everyone is living in) so he can be near Sally. J.B. has decided he wants to portrait of Mr. Chavender hanging in the breakfast room for a new advertising campaign. Various members of the household try to steal it for the money J.B. is offering.
Final thoughts: Well, this book certainly provided the light tone I was looking for. There were a few times I was sad I was listening to the book instead of reading a physical copy. Wodehouse managed some beautiful turns of phrase that I wanted to share with my family or write down, and I didn’t have the opportunity because I was listening to the book. I found this to be particularly true when he was describing the actions of the Pekinese dog of the house – just hilarious. I might need to read more of Wodehouse’s book when I’m in the mood for some humor.
The book felt like a farce to me. Everyone has secret and are nearly found out and working cross-purposes to each other. Wodehouse used all those difficult situations as an opportunity for humor. My kids are doing the 1890s play Charlie’s Aunt, and I felt some similarities between their description of that play and this book.
I found it amusing that Joc turned out to be just the valet needed to Howard to toe the line of being a “proper” English gentleman (he was an American boxer before he married his landed wife). It wasn’t that Joc was good at the job (he farmed out all the work to the other servants). Instead, he refused to take any guff from Howard and knew just how to blackmail him into good behavior.
Title comes from: It was a phrase used in the book at one point
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #30 for 2021 and a Q in my Reading the Alphabet Challenge
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