- Uncle Fred in the Springtime
infobox Book |
name = Uncle Fred in the Springtime
P. G. Wodehouse
language = English
publisher = Doubleday Doran,
August 18 1939
media_type = Print (Hardback &
isbn = NA
preceded_by = "
The Crime Wave at Blandings" (short), Heavy Weather (novel)
followed_by = Full Moon (Blandings),
Uncle Dynamite(Uncle Fred)
"Uncle Fred in the Springtime" is a
novelby P.G. Wodehouse, first published in the United Stateson August 18 1939by Doubleday Doran, New York, and in the United Kingdomon August 251939 by Herbert Jenkins, London.
It is set at the idyllic
Blandings Castle, home of Clarence, Earl of Emsworth, the fifth full-length novel to be set there. It also features Uncle Fred, who first appeared in the short " Uncle Fred Flits By", which was included in the 1936collection " Young Men in Spats", and would feature in three further novels.
When Alaric, Duke of Dunstable decides to take
Empress of Blandingsaway from her loving master and get her fit, Lord Emsworthcalls in the services of the redoutable Uncle Fred. Fred arrives full of the joys of spring, with nephew Pongo Twistletonand old friend Polly Pott in tow, and despite the efforts of the efficient Baxter, endeavours to scupper the Duke and to bring together a variety of romantic couplings.
Pongo Twistletonis having money troubles, and his wealthy friend Horace Pendlebury-Davenport is in trouble with his girl, Pongo's cousin Valerie, for hiring Claude "Mustard" Pott to trail her during the Drones Clubweekend at Le Touquet. Pongo resolves to call in the redoubtable Uncle Fredfor assistance.
Meanwhile at Blandings, Horace's uncle the Duke of Dunstable, as well demanding eggs to throw at whistling gardeners, has taken it into his head that the Empress needs some fitness training, and
Lord Emsworthneeds help; in the absence of his trusty brother Galahad, he calls in the next best thing: Gally's old friend Uncle Fred.
Horace, having fallen out with his cousin Ricky Gilpin over Gilpin's fiancee Polly Pott, daughter of Mustard, lands Pongo even further in the soup by being dressed as a
Zulurather than a Boy scoutduring a round of the "Clothes Stakes", run by Pott at the Drones. While Uncle Fred ponders how to get polly into Blandings to court her prospective uncle-in-law, Emsworth gives them a chance by insulting Sir Roderick "Pimples" Glossop, who he was supposed to engage to analyse the increasingly loopy Duke of Dunstable.
Fred seizes his chance, and heads down to Blandings posing as Glossop, with Pongo playing the role of his secretary and nephew, and Polly his daughter Gwendolyne. They meet Glossop on the train, but head him off, only to pass him into the hands of
Rupert Baxter, now working for the Duke. Arriving at Blandings, they are met by Lord Bosham, who was conned out of his wallet by Uncle Fred the previous day.
Baxter is sacked, having been seen at a ball by Horace, but is taken on again when Uncle Fred persuades Horace, and the Duke, that Horace is suffering delusions. Horace heads off for a rest-cure, and Baxter is left unable to reveal that he has seen through Fred disguise, having met the real Glossop before. Baxter, however, is put on his guard, and informs Lady Constance; she in turn has Bosham hire a detective to protect her jewels, and he of course selects Mustard Pott.
Dunstable's scheme to acquire the pig continues apace, and he calls in his strapping nephew to help, but when Gilpin asks for funds to buy an onion soup bar, thus enabling him to marry Polly, the two row and part. Dunstable ropes in Baxter instead. Uncle Fred, meeting Pott just after he has taken £250 from Lord Bosham at "Persian Monarchs", takes the money off him, insisting it will help Polly marry wealthy Horace. Pott, meeting Gilpin at the Emsworth Arms, tells him this story, and the enraged poet chases a fearful Horace back to the Castle. Fred gives the money to Pongo to pass on to Polly for Gilpin's benefit, but she is spurned by him, and lets Pongo use the cash to pay off his debts.
When Fred has reunited the couple, more money is required. Pott is persuaded to take it from Dunstable at "Persian Monarchs", but the wily peer wins himself £300. Fred tries to get it back, but Dunstable has the pig, captured earlier by Baxter, hidden in his bathroom, and is keeping his room under lock and key. Having knocked out the vigilant Baxter with a Mickey Finn, Fred finally gains access to the room, Pongo having lured Dunstable away with a rendition of "The Bonny Banks o'
Loch Lomond". He is caught by a shotgun-bearing Bosham, just as Pott drinks a second Mickey destined for Dunstable, and is locked in a cupboard.
Valerie arrives, reunited with her man and hot for vengeance on the uncle that made her Horace think himself insane, and confirms Fred's identity; Fred convinces all that Emsworth has become infatuated with Polly, and that he is there to put a stop to it. He takes Dunstable's roll of cash to pay the girl off, insisting that his visit remain a secret to maintain the Threepwood dignity, and heads back to London with not only the money for Gilpin's soup bar, but an extra fifty quid for himself to blow on a few joyous weeks in the city.
Characters in "Uncle Fred in the Springtime"
Lord Emsworth, absent-minded master of Blandings Castle
** George Threepwood, Lord Bosham, Emsworth's eldest son
Lady Constance Keeble, Emsworth's domineering sister
Empress of Blandings, Emsworth's cherished prize pig
* Alaric, Duke of Dunstable, a cantakerous peer
Rupert Baxter, Dunstable's secretary, formerly employed by Lord Emsworth
** Horace Pendlebury-Davenport, Dunstable's nephew
** Ricky Gilpin, another nephew of Dunstable, a poet
*** Polly Pott, Ricky's fiancee and Horace's dance-teacher
**** Claude "Mustard" Pott, Polly's father, a detective
Pongo Twistleton, an impoverished friend of Horace
** Valerie Twistleton, Pongo's sister, engaged to Horace
** Frederick Twistleton, 5th Earl of Ickenham, Pongo and Valerie's Uncle Fred
Sir Roderick Glossop, a prominent nerve-specialist
* Beach, butler at the castle
Uncle Fred would return in:
Uncle Dynamite" ( 1948)
Cocktail Time" ( 1958)
Service With a Smile" ( 1961) - in which he and Dunstable revisit Blandings
* [http://www.worldofwodehouse.com Summaries of most of P.G. Wodehouses books, information on characters, quizzes]
* [http://wodehouse.ru/60.htm The Russian Wodehouse Society's page] , with a list of characters
* [http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/w/p-g-wodehouse/uncle-fred-in-springtime.htm Fantastic Fiction's page] , with details of published editions, photos of book covers and links to used copies
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