Ian Wood's Reviews > Doctor Sally

Doctor Sally by P.G. Wodehouse
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Dec 08, 2007

it was ok
bookshelves: p-g-wodehouse
Recommended for: Wodehouse fans only
Read in January, 2007

‘Doctor Sally’ was written at the height of Wodehouse’s powers as a novelist and yet as a novel it is one of his worst. The book was adapted from Wodehouse’s own play ‘Good Morning, Bill’ or more realistically wasn’t adapted from the play, it is the play with a few stage directions added between the dialogue.

I imagine it worked well as a play, the dialogue is absolutely fabulous, Lord Tidmouth or Squiffy’s reaction to his ex-wife Lottie realising Bill intends to break up with her ‘You’ve put the thing in a nutshell. It’s all off, and so is he’. Another classic would be Doctor Sally’s answering Lottie’s concerns on her diagnosis that she requires rest ‘Aren’t you going to look at my tongue?’, ‘I can tell, without looking at it, that it needs a rest too.’

The plot is that Bill Bannister has got over his infatuation with Lottie and has fallen in love with Sally Smith. Lottie’s ex-husband and Bill’s childhood friend Squiffy has realised that he never got over Lottie. Bill’s uncle, Sir Hugo Drake, is trying to get Bill to realise that Lottie would not be a suitable match for him and that someone like Sally would be much more suitable. Sally wasn’t looking for love but merely to be taken seriously as a female doctor.

The play was clearly a two act affair with the first act set in the traditional Wodehouse sea side resort of Bingley-on-sea where we are introduced to the protagonists and what passes as the plot. In the second act we are at Bill’s country seat where Bill has got Doctor Sally down under the false pretence of being ill whilst Sir Hugo has invited Lottie to illustrate how she would be unhappy in the rural environment.

The plot comes off in the way we would expect and although driven by some of Wodehouse’s crisper dialogue it doesn’t work as a novel and should certainly not be tackled as an introduction to the masters work. As well as the dialogue the books other redeeming quality is that it is very short.
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