Psmith and his friend Mike must navigate the world alone as young men, getting jobs, earning money, and figuring out whether it's really worth it to suck up to and suffer under their odious employer. This is a typically funny Wodehouse novel featuring the urban dandy Psmith (pronounced "Smith") and a new character, cricketer and Camridge student Mike Jackson. Mike's plot trajectory actually closely follows Wodehouse's own life - although Wodehouse had a first-class education growing up, he was unable to attend college due to his family's financial conditions and had to work at a bank in Shanghai instead. Similarly in "Psmith in the City", Mike Jackson must leave Cambridge for financial reasons and ends up at the New Asiatic Bank (except it's in London). It is an interesting autobiographical detail.
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Mike and Psmith meet as Mike plays for a cricket team administered by Psmith's father. However, Mike and Psmith meet because they are both in London under similar conditions: both unable to currently attend college, and both working in London at the same bank. However, while Mike is working at the bank out of financial necessity, Psmith is there merely because he annoyed his father's friend Bickersdyke, but now plans to make amends and grow closer to Bickersdyke, who belongs to the same private gentleman's club as Psmith's and Mike's employer Mr Rossiter at the New Asiatic Bank. Psmith and Mike also decide to become roommates.
Meanwhile, they continue to find ways to ingratiate themselves at the bank. They follow Mr Rossiter's football club, Manchester United, and this all leads to some success for Psmith. Psmith is now on very good terms with Mr Rossiter, while Mike is still a ways behind. On the other hand, Psmith's attempts to win over Bickersdyke are rather less successful as his attempts to drawn Bickersdyke's attention to himself during Bickersdyke's political campaign causes disruption and chaos. However, Psmith ultimately prevails in his quest to influence Bickersdyke for the purpose of saving Mike's job: while stalking Bickersdyke to a Turkish bath, he blackmails Bickersdyke with his knowledge of Bickersdyke's extremely republican (i.e. against the institution of monarchy in Britain) sentiments, which would destroy Bickersdyke's career. Infuriated but unable to maneuver out of the situation, Bickersdyke agrees to make sure Mike stays on at the bank. However, the maneuvers soon prove somewhat useless as Bickersdyke is successfully elected to Parliament (making him less likely to listen to Psmith), while Mike gets transferred to another section of the bank and Psmith succeeding another employee, Waller, in the Cash department.
The final test of Mike and Psmith's friendship comes when Mike finally has a chance to play at Lord's, the most famous and prestigious and exciting cricket tournament in England, because Mike's brother (the team captain) needed to fill an empty slot on the team with a fast replacement. The news that Mike is playing cricket at Lord's instead of slaving away at the bank sends Bickersdyke into a rage and convinces Mike that he's done for at the New Asiatic Bank, but he goes to play cricket anyway and Psmith, also in a rebellious mood, goes to watch the match and convinces his father (that is, Psmith's father) that he would rather go to law school. At the conclusion of the match, in which Mike acquits himself very well, Psmith announces that he plans to go to law school and that his father would be happy to hire Mike for real estate work. Bickersdyke is shocked and annoyed when both Psmith and Mike quit the bank, politely and gentlemanly but clearly no longer interested in working with Bickersdyke.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved it as a very cutting satire of office life. Even though it's set in the early 20th century, so much of it is still relevant today. Office politics, etc.
Best scene in story:
The scene at the end of the novel where Psmith apologetically, politely, and nicely turns down Bickersdyke and says he and Mike are not interested in working at the bank anymore. Such a dignified way to get revenge after being treated so badly.
Opinion about the main character:
I like his sass and cleverness.