The fall brings four antic novels from comic genius, P G Wodehouse In Picadilly Jim soon to be a major motion picture, Jimmy Crocker has a scandalous reputation on both sides of the Atlantic and must do an aboutface to win back the woman of his dreams Uneasy Money sees the hardup Lord Dawlish off to America to make a fortune, while in Cocktail Time events turn on the fate of a filmscript Spring Fever is a lighthearted comedy involving love and various complications

10 thoughts on “Piccadilly Jim

  1. Apatt Apatt says:

    “Mr. Pett is going to give me a job in his office. I am going to start at the bottom and work my way still further down.”

    Excellent negative positivity (or something). I love reading P.G. Wodehouse, especially on the bus in audio format on the way to work, it puts me in the right frame of mind for the daily grind ahead.

    Piccadilly Jim is probably the most popular standalone Wodehouse book (no Jeeves, no Blandings, no statistic to back this up). I tend to start off these non-Jeeves Wodehouse books initially missing the presence of Jeeves and Wooster but Wodehouse’s charm is pretty irresistible.
    Piccadilly Jim is about Jimmy Crocker, another one of Wodehouse’s stock ne'er-do-well young male protagonists. This is not a criticism as their adventures are always a hoot. Besides, the alternative would be a sensible chap who does everything right; that is unlikely to elicit many laughs. At the beginning of the book, Jim lives with his father and step-mother in London where Jim is a notorious party animal. After socking a fellow “sprig of nobility” on the jaw, Jim decides to leave London to spend some time in New York to avoid causing further trouble for his beloved father. He soon meets and falls in love with Ann Chester who recruits him in a scheme to kidnap her super-spoiled fourteen-year-old cousin Ogden, not for money but to confine him at a dogs’ hospital so that the hospital’s keeper can teach him to behave.

    In order to win Ann’s affections, Jim has to pretend to be somebody else because five years ago he ridiculed Ann’s book of poetry in a newspaper article, and while she never met him before she considers him an enemy. However, in order to carry out Ann’s kidnapping scheme he has to pretend to be impersonating Jimmy Crocker, i.e., himself. If that does not make sense don’t worry about it, while the storyline is simple there are many plot elements that would make for an awfully convoluted synopsis.

    From a well-intentioned kidnapping to an espionage subplot, numerous imposters at a family mansion, and a larger than life female detective with crazy eyes. Wodehouse throws a lot of crazy notions into Piccadilly Jim. In lesser hands, this many plot elements would result in a hot mess but Wodehouse ingeniously weaves them all into a delightful, comic novel. The outrageously implausible plot defies logic, but I don’t read Wodehouse for logic or plausibility. What I do read him for is a good chuckle, an appreciation of clever language usage, and a generally upbeat feeling. As usual, Wodehouse populates this book with colorful, silly characters. My favorite has to be ace detective, Ms. Trimble, she is tough as nails, and, in spite of not having a sense of humour, everything that comes out of her mouth is pretty hilarious. Here is Wodehouse’s vivid description:

    “She had thick eyebrows, from beneath which small, glittering eyes looked out like dangerous beasts in undergrowth: and the impressive effect of these was accentuated by the fact that, while the left eye looked straight out at its object, the right eye had a sort of roving commission and was now, while its colleague fixed Mrs. Pett with a gimlet stare, examining the ceiling. As to the rest of the appearance of this remarkable woman, her nose was stubby and aggressive, and her mouth had the coldly forbidding look of the closed door of a subway express when you have just missed the train.”

    If you have never read P.G. Wodehouse before I would recommend starting with My Man Jeeves, but if you are already a fan Piccadilly Jim will not disappoint you. Everybody should consume more Plums 🤓

    Free Librivox audiobook read by various readers, all of them have done an acceptable job, some are actually quite good.

    • Fun(ish) Fact: Piccadilly Jim was adapted into a movie three times. (I have not seen any of them but I like the 1936 poster best).

    “It was pure slush. It was the sort of stuff they filled up pages with in the magazines when the detective story did not run long enough. It was the sort of stuff which long-haired blighters read alone to other long-haired blighters in English suburban drawing-rooms. It was the sort of stuff which—to be brief—gave him the Willies.”

    “To have secured Willie Partridge, whom he intended to lead gradually into the realms of high finance by way of envelope-addressing.”

    “From where he stood, outside the barrier which separated visitors to the office from the workers within, Jimmy could see a vista of efficient-looking young men with paper protectors round their cuffs working away at mysterious jobs which seemed to involve the use of a great deal of paper. One in particular was so surrounded by it that he had the appearance of a bather in surf.”

    I think the heat must have made him irritable. In his normal state he would not strike a lamb. I've known him to do it.
    Do what?
    Not strike lambs.

  2. Nandakishore Varma Nandakishore Varma says:

    To win the girl he loves, rich playboy Jimmy Corker hides his identity behind an alias - however, due to the vagaries of fate, he ends up impersonating himself... short, vintage Wodehouse. 😂😂😂

    Indian filmmakers take note - this story is perfect for plagiarising. 😉

  3. Kedar Kedar says:

    In a recent Reddit post titled What books are worth reading just for the quality of their prose alone?, I was very happy to see P.G. Wodehouse being mentioned. He truly deserves to be mentioned!

    With Piccadilly Jim, PGW is probably at his descriptive best and the book contains ample amount of the sunshine-filled (hat tip Stephen Fry) language that is known to flow out of his mind.

    Plot-wise I wouldn't say that this book would stand well in a Sumo wrestling match against some of his other champions, but the Wodehousian charm is strong and pervasively permeating in this one.

    I loved the characters drawn in this book. Mr. Pett (Sensational Turning Of A Worm!), Miss Trimble, Mr. Crocker, Jimmy, Jerry Mitchell, Ann (with her red hair and the nature which generally goes with red hair), and even Ogden for that matter are beautiful.

    He had the plethoric habit of one to whom wholesome exercise is a stranger and the sallow complexion of the confirmed candy-fiend.

    (On a slightly unrelated note, the Kindle / Gutenberg version has chapter titles that are missing from the printed book. The titles do add to the fun part!)

    Few gems from the book:

    An exile from home splendour dazzles in vain.
    Oh, give me my lowly thatched cottage again;
    The birds singing gaily, that came at my call,
    Give me them, and that peace of mind dearer than all.

    Mr. Crocker had never lived in a thatched cottage, nor had his relations with the birds of his native land ever reached the stage of intimacy indicated by the poet; but substitute Lambs Club for the former and members for the latter, and the parallel becomes complete.

    Have you packed everything I shall want?
    Within the scope of a suitcase, yes, sir.

    It is but rarely that any one is found who is not dazzled by the glamour of incivility.

    It is one of the effects of a successful hunch that it breeds other hunches.

    And this one is particularly romantic!

    To a girl with your ardent nature some one with whom you can quarrel is an absolute necessity of life. You and I are affinities. Ours will be an ideally happy marriage. You would be miserable if you had to go through life with a human doormat with 'Welcome' written on him. You want some one made of sterner stuff. You want, as it were, a sparring-partner, some one with whom you can quarrel happily with the certain knowledge that he will not curl up in a ball for you to kick, but will be there with the return wallop. I may have my faults— He paused expectantly. Ann remained silent. No, no! he went on. But I am such a man. Brisk give-and-take is the foundation of the happy marriage. Do you remember that beautiful line of Tennyson's—'We fell out, my wife and I'? It always conjures up for me a vision of wonderful domestic happiness. I seem to see us in our old age, you on one side of the radiator, I on the other, warming our old limbs and thinking up snappy stuff to hand to each other—sweethearts still! If I were to go out of your life now, you would be miserable. You would have nobody to quarrel with. You would be in the position of the female jaguar of the Indian jungle, who, as you doubtless know, expresses her affection for her mate by biting him shrewdly in the fleshy part of the leg, if she should snap sideways one day and find nothing there.

    I enjoyed reading this book a lot.

  4. Chrissie Chrissie says:

    I found this just plain silly. And boring. At least now I know P.G. Wodehouse is not an author for me. My rating expresses merely my personal appreciation of the book.

    A couple of times I smiled. Wodehouse is supposed to be read for his humor. The humor is light. I think one is to be amused by what people do. I found the plot totally unbelievable. Judging from what I have just read, one should not go into a book by Wodehouse looking for reality.

    The story circles around characters pretending to be someone they are not. To add to the confusion, a huge cast of characters are thrown at the reader. Keeping track of who is who is annoying if you don’t give a darn about any of them. There are both Brits and Americans, and the setting is London and New York City.

    Don’t look for anything serious in this book. Don’t expect reality or believability. If you are looking for something silly and light, sure, this might be your cup of tea. At least I know now Wodehouse is not for me.

    Martin Jarvis narrates the audiobook I listened to. His narration is fine. I have given it three stars. He dramatizes, and he does it well, but I can't say I enjoyed listening to the shrill, squeaky voices of some of the women.


    Here goes!!!
    I have not read Wodehouse before.
    What will I think?
    Is this a good place to start?

    I was kindly given this list-- -- and this book is up at the top.

    Are these some of your favorites too? If you are able to advise me, please do.

    How would you describe the humor? I previously thought it to be slapstick, which is not a favorite of mine. Now I have been told it is more wordplay, and that I like.

  5. Manoj Manoj says:

    Bertie Wooster is fond of remarking to his butler, after the latter has extricated him from yet another hole, Jeeves, you stand alone. This could just as well be said about the author, P G Wodehouse. He stands alone. No other author approaches his perfection of the turn of the phrase, his talent for comic timing, his ability to string together remarkably complicated plots, and the individuality and personality he endows in each character. Remarkably, no two Wodehouse heroes are exactly the same (though he does have a weakness for repeating a certain archetype of the Wodehouse heroine.)

    So if one is to compare a book by Wodehouse, the only fair comparison is to other books by Wodehouse. Even by this comparison, Piccadilly Jim stands alone. Piccadilly Jim was the first Wodehouse I read. It has long been my favorite work by Wodehouse. I suspected perhaps part of it was a sentimentality towards the first book I read. So recently when I went back and re-read it, having sampled everything else by the master, I expected that I would find myself wiser, and my praise for the book tempered. I have been told by many other Wodehouse lovers that their favorite book by the master is Sam the Sudden. Pshaw, I say to them, and double pshaw. Piccadilly Jim is such a finely-crafted perfection of a novel that it transcends the category of novels and can only be compared with fine cheeses, and first-flush teas, and other such rare works of art.

  6. Shiloah Shiloah says:

    It’s all about identities! Charming, entertaining, and amusing!

  7. John Frankham John Frankham says:

    Written as early as 1917, when Wodehouse was first plying his trade on both sides of the Atlantic, this novel takes place in London, New York and on board ship. Baseball and cricket are both discussed!

    Already a master of the complicated but easy to follow plot, this is terrific. Our hero actually has to pretend to be not only someone else to his intended, but to pretend to be himself to other people at the same time! Do you follow me .... ? Burglary, kidnapping, high explosives, private detectives, yapping dogs, guns, henpecked husbands, all abound.

    The life of the American Jimmy Crocker (in England for the last five years) has been little more than one drunken brawl after another. His formidable Aunt Nesta has had enough of his antics and decrees that the young Crocker must return to New York and be reformed. However, Jimmy has fallen in love and decided to reform himself. Unfortunately, to win the heart of his intended, who he, as a named but unseen newspaper critic, mortally offended years ago, Jimmy must pretend to be someone else and take part in the kidnapping of Aunt Nesta's loathsome offspring Ogden. The reformation of oneself can be a decidedly tricky business.

  8. Renee M Renee M says:

    This was delightful... as in really, genuinely funny. Mr. Wodehouse had an inexhaustible gift for the turn of phrase. It would be difficult to find a goofier premise, but it all works out by the effervescent end.

  9. Kaph Kaph says:

    Verdict: Smashingly written and exquisitely crafted Fop-y Fun.

    Any friend of Stephen Fry's is a friend of mine (as life mottos go, it's not a bad one) so I was happy to indulge in this, my first literary taste of Wodehouse. I say literary because I've previously encountered it in other media; namely the exquisite 'Jeeves and Wooster' series and a stack of book-on-tape cassettes my father periodically digs out to entertain the family during road trips to Colorado. Had I my druthers I would have started with a book from this Jeeves category, but patrons of second-hand book stores can't be choosers so Piccadilly Jim it was.

    It was charming. I defy anyone to not appreciate Wodehouse. He is a master craftsman of an author; building dizzyingly complicated plots with each intricate bit dovetailing perfectly into the next and composing dazzling dialogue that falls somewhere between fencing and dancing. The whole effect is of an unusually amusing Swiss watch, or perhaps a coo-coo clock. I won't say too much about the story itself, partly because my words pale beside Wodehouse's but mostly because it's impossible to explain the plot without puppets and diagrams. It could perhaps be summarized as variations (tessellations? fractals?) on the theme of mistaken identity.

    Typically I don't care for 'mistaken identity' stories. I am of the unfortunately empathetic disposition whereby I am made physically uncomfortable by the by the cringing of fictional entities. If you suffer a similar affliction then be at peace, Piccadilly Jim is safe. The discomfiture of the characters never really reaches the cringe level, no one knows enough of the whole story to grasp how embarrassing their predicament could be. The effect is jolly, madcap, slapstick - fun.

    Piccadilly Jim is fun, fun to read and I expect fun to write as well. I recommend it, though I can't see my way to giving it above a 3. It's stolidly Light Entertainment; very amusing but not much of anything to say. Maybe this makes me a snob, I don't know. The book seems fine with itself, though. Happy with it's own cleverness and not harbouring illusions of grandeur. I respect it for that. I like Wodehouse and I think I'll have to try and get my hands on 'The Code of the Woosters' for my next foray. Now though, in keeping with my self imposed and somewhat arbitrary rules I'm off to read a depressing grown-up book. Stay tuned and find out if We Need To Talk About Kevin.

  10. Libbeth Libbeth says:

    I will use this review for all the P. G. Wodehouse I have read. I read them all so long ago and enjoyed them so much that I have given them all 5 stars. As I re-read them I will adjust the stars accordingly, if necessary, and add a proper review.
    When I first discovered P. G. Wodehouse I devoured every book I could find in the local library, throughout the eighties and early nineties. Alas, this means that I have read most of them and stumbling across one I have not read is a rare thing. I'm sure that through this great site I will joyfully find at least a few I have not read, and be able to track them down.
    My records only began in 1982, so I do not have a note of any I read before then. I’m sure I will enjoy re-reading them.