What a marvelous farce! A farce in the best, classic, theatrical sense of that term: P.G. Wodehouse once described his own work as musical comedy without music, and this 1914 novel definitely meets that description. It's loads of fun!
An impecunious writer stops a runaway horse and plunges into storybook adventures on behalf of a beautiful actress. She reveals a tragic, romantic and unlikely past and enlists his aid in an international intrigue. Complications arise with the interventions of her saucy French maid, a middle-aged taxi proprietor, a henpecked churchwarden and a well-to-do waster with a bad case of ennui.
The plot, worthy of Wodehouse, keeps you turning pages to find out what happens next.
I looked up Richard Bird (1881–1965) in search of others of his works, but it appears that most of his oeuvre were boys' school stories, none of which I could find online.
This 1953 novel holds up pretty well, if you can ignore such dated bits as space-going ashtrays, Native Americans who "speak Indian" to each other, the presumption of American supremacy and, above all, that peculiarly 1950s optimism about the future. The idea that an inexperienced but bright young man can do anything, beating the odds and the experts, is characteristic of ’50s science fiction, although it's somewhat tempered here, and at least he doesn't do it all alone.
Young Joe Kenmore of Kenmore Precision Tool Co. is accompanying equipment made by his family's firm to where they'll be installed in the Space Platform. Once launched, the platform will protect America — and the rest of the world — from nuclear attack through unilateral deterrence and serve as a launching station for star travel.
Naively, Joe's surprised to learn that the construction site has been heavily targeted by saboteurs. He's skeptical, but then somebody tries to shoot down his transport plane. And things get worse as the massive project nears completion.
A lonely little nebbish, a kind of Walter Mitty precursor, dreams of adventure and traveling the world. When he gets his opportunity, though, he finds that he's just as lonely overseas, although the experience changes him for the better. The trouble is, the book is all so very earnest. It would be better, as Thurber's later story shows, if it had more humor.
A historical novel about the siege of Leyden in the 16th century. The author manages to make that exciting period turgid and dull.
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