Submissions for #FirstLineFriday are officially closed now. My thanks to all who emailed me with their guesses. Today, I’m sorry (but not very surprised) to say we have no winners. While I was hoping I’d be wrong, I had a pretty strong feeling this would be a tough one, though well deserving a spot on an official Top 100 Opening Lines list.
And now, let’s find out just where this really amusing line is found. Here’s the answer to today’s quiz:
“Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.” is the opening line of The Luck of the Bodkins written by P. G. Wodehouse in 1935.
The Luck of the Bodkins is a comic novel, first published in the United Kingdom on 11 October 1935 in the United States on 3 January 1936. The two editions are significantly different, though the plot remains the same.
The novel was serialized in The Passing Show magazine (UK) from 21 September to 23 November 1935, and this version was published as the UK edition. For its US magazine appearance, in the Red Book, between August 1935 and January 1936, Wodehouse re-wrote the story, reducing its length, and this became the US book edition.
The story concerns the complicated love life of amiable young Monty Bodkin, the nephew of Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, who had previously appeared in Heavy Weather (1933), when he was employed as the latest in the long line of Lord Emsworth‘s secretaries.
A comic effect is created by the incongruous combination of formal and informal language in Wodehouse’s narrative passages, as in the beginning of the novel: “Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.” Before the first comma, the passage may be the beginning of a serious novel, but the sudden use of two colloquial words, “shifty” and “hangdog”, prepares the reader for the semantic incongruity of the last part of the sentence.
WHAT AMAZON SAYS:
To the majority of the passengers aboard the R.M.S. “Atlantic” the voyage to America was just a pleasant interlude in life’s hectic rush. But not so to Monty Bodkin. Monty’s wooing of Gertrude Butterwick was not progressing as it should, and the cause of all the trouble was Miss Lotus Blossom, the brightest star in Hollywood’s firmament.
The easy camaraderie of Miss Blossom, coupled with the idea that Monty was the only person who could send the errant Ambrose back to her welcoming arms, was causing Mr. Bodkin moments of acute distress. But Lotus and Monty were not the only ones to wear the furrowed brow. Reggie Tennyson was another, and so was Ikey Llewellyn. Reggie’s trouble was pecuniary; but Ikey’s was more serious, for he had something on his mind—a dangerous condition for one of his mental capacity.
Finally there was Albert Peasemarch, prince of stewards and singer of ballads, whose sanity was threatened by the complete goofiness of his charges. This is a book of laughter, packed with the most glorious situations and related in the deliciously inconsequential manner which is the hallmark of authentic Wodehouse. In short, another Wodehouse triumph.
Buy The Luck of the Bodkins HERE:
And that wraps up this week’s quiz, folks! Again, sorry I could/couldn’t give away any downloads, but maybe next time. #FirstLineFriday will be back in two weeks, so stay tuned! 😀 See you then!