This was the first Blandings book I ever read, when I was about 12 years old. The style and the characters grabbed me immediately, even though the story could be a little confusing with the multiple references to the earlier part of the story that is told in Summer Lightning.
Heavy Weather was written in 1933, four years after Summer Lightning and continues the story a few days after the end of that book. It introduces yet another of Emsworth’s sisters, the formidable Lady Julia Fish, the mother of Ronnie Fish who we met in Summer Lightning. We also meet Monty Bodkin who used to be engaged to Sue Brown, Ronnie’s fiancee. Monty is initially the assistant editor of Tiny Tots, the admirable children’s paper published by the Mammoth Publishing Company. He gets fired in chapter two and through his uncle Gregory Parsloe manages to wangle himself the position as Emsworth’s secretary – without Clarence’s agreement which subsequently leads to many misunderstandings, and eventually his getting fired again in chapter eleven. Monty occurs in several Wodehouse books following his time at Blandings, though no more in the saga.
The story follows the twin tracks of Julia and Connie trying to put a stop to Ronnie’s engagement to Sue, and also trying to keep Gally’s reminiscences from falling into the hands of Lord Tilbury (“Stinker” Pyke as he is known to Gally), owner of the Mammoth Publishing Company who has the publishing contract on them. The ghastly Pilbeam is still at the Castle, theoretically keeping an eye on the Empress, and finds himself being employed by both sides in the argument over the book.
Unlike most Blandings books there are no imposters in Heavy Weather. However the Empress does get stolen again, by Ronnie (yes, again!) who this time threatens to take her joyriding unless Clarence releases his money. It all works out in the end of course, to the joy of most, apart from those who think that Ronnie is marrying beneath him. The final sentence of the book signals the awarding of the silver medal to the Empress in the Shropshire Show, as she will become the first pig ever to win it twice.
This is Wodehouse again at full throttle. Funny, intricate plotting, and characters both likeable and not. You never do forget your first Wodehouse, and I love this one.