Summer Lightning Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Summer Lightning

The complex love lives of the inhabitants of Blandings Castle become tied into the scandalous memoirs of Galahad Threepwood. The Honourable Galahad Threepwood seeks to get his scandalous memoirs published against opposition from family and those in the book, whilst also helping the various young couples who have gravitated to Blandings Castle. As a youth Galahad had been a man-about-town, involved in various exploits (some illegal, some just embarrassing) along with men who are now peers of the realm and would rather not have their dirty laundry aired in public. Chief among these is Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, who lives at Matchingham Hall which adjoins Blandings. Galahad's sister Lady Constance Keeble is also dedicated to stopping the memoirs and wishes her other brother Lord Emsworth would help, but Lord Emsworth is more interested in his prize pig The Empress of Blandings. Lady Constance's distraction is good news for Lord Emsworth's new secretary, Hugo Carmody, who is secretly courting Constance's niece Millicent. Carmody is penniless since the failure of his nightclub, which he ran with Lord Emsworth's nephew, Ronnie Fish. Ronnie himself is also involved in a secret relationship with someone ‘unsuitable'; chorus girl Sue Brown, who is a friend of Hugo's. Unfortunately the pair bump into Lady Constance in London and Ronnie is forced to pretend Sue is in fact Myra Schoonmaker, daughter of an American millionaire and a much more desirable bride. Lady Constance gets Ronnie to drive her back to Blandings where he meets the Efficient Baxter, Lord Emsworth's former secretary whom Lady Constance has hired to try and steal Galahad's memoirs. Lord Emsworth is very unhappy to see Baxter back since he thinks the man is mad. Whilst visiting the Empress of Blandings' home, Ronnie comes up with the idea of telling Lord Emsworth he is starting a pig farm so his uncle will give him the money he needs to marry Sue. Unfortunately he thought of this while bouncing a tennis ball off the Empress's back and is seen by Lord Emsworth who will certainly not give him any money now. Overhearing Galahad suggesting that Lord Emsworth steal the pig of his neighbour Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, Ronnie decides to steal the Empress then pretend to find her to get back in his Uncle's good books. With the help of Beach the butler, who has known Ronnie since he was a boy, Ronnie steals the pig and hides her in a nearby cottage. Lord Emsworth sends Hugo to London to hire detective Percy Pilbeam to find the Empress but Pilbeam is not interested in the job. As old friends, Hugo and Sue go out dancing, but when Hugo leaves her alone, Pilbeam, who has a crush on Sue, joins her. Unfortunately Ronnie has come to visit Sue and on seeing her with Pilbeam he attacks the detective and ends up in jail. In the morning Ronnie breaks off his engagement with Sue. Meanwhile, Millicent has learned of Hugo taking Sue dancing and has broken their engagement. Hugo and Sue head for Blandings (Sue pretending to be Myra Schoonmaker) to patch up their respective relationships. At Blandings Galahad is convinced that Parsloe has stolen the Empress and threatens to include some highly compromising incidents in his memoirs if Parsloe does not return the pig. Parsloe decides to hire Pilbeam to steal the memoirs and so Pilbeam too heads for Blandings, pretending to have changed his mind about finding the Empress. Galahad is an old friend of the Schoonmakers and spots Sue as an imposter, but on learning why she is there decides not to say anything. Pilbeam too recognises Sue and tries to bribe her into helping him steal the memoirs but Sue resists. Millicent learns that Ronnie stole the pig and is impressed by what he has done for her leading to them reuniting. But the pig theft is in danger of discovery; Baxter followed Beach when he went to feed the pig and discovered its hiding place. But by the time Baxter can show Lord Emsworth the pig has been moved and Lord Emsworth once again doubts Baxter's sanity. Hugo has now hidden the Empress in Baxters's caravan but he was seen doing so by Pilbeam, who tells Hugo this when a bit drunk. Hugo gets Millicent to tell Lord Emsworth he has found the Empress and the delighted Emsworth immediately agrees to Hugo and Millicent's marriage. Ronnie has learnt the truth about Sue and Pilbeam and the pair reunite in her room while Baxter is hidden under the bed, he had been trying to retrieve a telegram from the real Myra Schoonmaker which would prove Sue to be an imposter. The couple's reunion is interrupted by Pilbeam climbing up a drainpipe to steal the memoirs. They chase him off and the rest of the house assume they are running away from Baxter, who is clearly mad since they have just found a pig in his caravan. Baxter leaves in a huff. Galahad learns that Sue's mother Dolly was a friend of his in his wild days and tells Lady Constance he will not publish his book if she allows Sue and Ronnie to marry. Pilbeam overhears this as he is once again halfway up the drainpipe and gives up.
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This was the third book in the Blandings saga and is the only one with a direct sequel in the form of Heavy Weather. It is also the first one of the series to feature Lord Emsworth's disreputable brother the Honourable Galahad Threepwood, one of the most engaging of Wodehouse's characters. As ever at Blandings the plot is outrageously complex, there are imposters and sundered hearts aplenty but everything is alright in the end.
Best part of story, including ending: The book is brilliantly written and joyously funny. There is nothing cynical or hateful about it.

Best scene in story: Galahad Threepwood confronts Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe concerning a pig theft that Parsloe in fact did not commit.

Opinion about the main character: Alongside Jeeves, Galahad Threepwood is the definitive Wodehouse problem solver. Too old for young love himself he revels in helping other couples find it.

The review of this Book prepared by Robin Bailes a Level 3 Eurasian Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Summer Lightning

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   upbeat Time/era of story    -   1900-1920's Crime & Police story    -   Yes Story of    -   searching for $$$/treasure Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   wealthy Age:    -   60's-90's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   British


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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P.G. Wodehouse Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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