Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin

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Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin
First edition (UK)
Author P. G. Wodehouse
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Comic novel
Publisher Barrie & Jenkins (UK)
Simon & Schuster (US)
Publication date
12 October 1972 (UK)
6 August 1973 (US)
Media type Print

Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin is a novel by P. G. Wodehouse, first published in the United Kingdom on 12 October 1972 by Barrie & Jenkins, London and in the United States on 6 August 1973 by Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York under the title The Plot That Thickened.[1]

Monty Bodkin, nephew of Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, is back from his adventures in Hollywood, with his situation, as introduced in Heavy Weather (1933) and The Luck of the Bodkins (1935), still as complicated as ever. Other recurring Wodehouse characters also appear, including film studio president Ivor Llewellyn, sneaky crook Alexander "Chimp" Twist, and Chimp's rivals Soapy and Dolly Molloy. Llewellyn returns in the following novel Bachelors Anonymous (1973).


Monty Bodkin's fiancée Gertrude Butterwick will not marry him without the consent of her father J. B. Butterwick, and he will not consent unless Monty can remain employed for a full year. Monty Bodkin has worked as a production advisor for the Superba-Llewellyn Motion Picture Corporation in Hollywood for a year, and returns to England hoping to marry Gertrude. However, her father, who dislikes Monty, insists the job did not count because Monty got it through dishonest means (by trading a certain Mickey Mouse doll to Ivor Llewellyn in The Luck of the Bodkins). To appease Mr Butterwick, Monty gets another job working for Ivor Llewellyn, this time as his secretary, after being hired by Llewellyn's domineering wife Grayce with help from Sally Miller. Sally told Grayce that Monty comes from a well-connected aristocratic family (which is not true). Sally was Monty's secretary in Hollywood and is now Mrs Grayce Llewellyn's secretary. Sally loves Monty but keeps this secret since he is engaged to someone else. Monty goes to work at Llewellyn's country house, Mellingham Hall, Mellingham, Sussex, where Llewellyn is writing a history of his film studio.

Grayce has a joint account with Llewellyn and watches his spending to keep him from gambling. Monty lends Llewellyn money for gambling, and they become friends. Grayce has a valuable pearl necklace, and employs detective J. Sheringham Adair (actually the alias of criminal Chimp Twist) to watch it. Chimp comes to the house posing as Llewellyn's new valet. Grayce keeps Llewellyn on a diet and Chimp is supposed to report to her if Llewellyn does not stick to it, though he actually sneaks food to Llewellyn and charges him for it. Monty is irritated that Gertrude does not object to her father's stipulation that he work for another year. Wilfred Chisholm, a hockey player like Gertrude, wants to marry her. She likes him but feels she cannot break her promise to Monty, though she is displeased with his low opinion of her father.

While Grayce is away visiting her daughter Mavis, Llewellyn takes the opportunity to go to a night club, which Grayce would never allow, with Monty and Sally. A police raid occurs, and Monty is able to escape after Sally pulls a dustbin with bottles over the head of Chisholm, who is a plainclothes policeman and tried to arrest Monty. This causes Monty to fall in love with Sally. She confided in Llewellyn about her feelings for Monty, and despite his promise not to tell Monty, he does so. Monty wants to marry her but does not want to hurt Gertrude's feelings by ending their engagement. Mavis tells Grayce that she thinks Monty is a burglar. The Llewellyns have invited to the house their new friends Soapy and Dolly Molloy, who are actually burglars intent on stealing the pearl necklace. Chimp Twist and the Molloys compete to steal it. Mavis plans to bring her new fiancé Jimmy Ponder to the house soon. This worries Llewellyn, since Ponder is a jewellery expert and will realize Grayce's pearl necklace, which is supposed to be given to Mavis when she marries, is fake. (Llewellyn sold the real one and replaced it with a replica.) Ponder was also swindled by Soapy in Cannes, so the Molloys will have to be gone before he arrives.

Llewellyn asks Monty to lose the necklace while bringing it to the bank so Ponder will not discover it is fake. Mr Butterwick learns that Mrs Llewellyn hired Monty because she was impressed by his connections, so he informs her that Monty is not actually related to aristocrats. After Chisholm tells Gertrude that Monty was at a club with a girl, Gertrude decides to marry Chisholm. Monty drives to the bank with Dolly. Dolly surprises him by revealing a gun and demanding the necklace, but then she is surprised by Chimp who was hiding in the back seat of the car and also has a gun. Chimp takes the necklace and drives off, leaving Monty and Dolly to walk back to the Hall. Monty is not upset with Dolly and tells her the necklace is fake, which Chimp will soon discover. When Monty returns and claims the necklace was stolen, Grayce believes he is lying and wants to have him arrested for stealing the necklace. However, Mavis telephones her mother to tell her that Ponder said the pearls were fake, which he already spotted. Acting on Sally's advice, Llewellyn tries to blame Grayce by claiming she sold the real necklace since she would have to give it to Mavis. A telegram from Gertrude announces that she has broken off her engagement to Monty, allowing Monty to get engaged to Sally. Grayce decides to get a divorce, an event which Llewellyn, who has already divorced four times, regards as purely routine. Sally wonders if Llewellyn will finally stop getting married, which Monty doubts.


  • Montrose "Monty" Bodkin – Amiable and rich Drone engaged to Gertrude, employed as a production advisor and then secretary for Ivor Llewellyn
  • Alexandra "Sally" Miller – Secretary to Monty in Hollywood and later to Grayce Llewellyn in Sussex, secretly loves Monty
  • Gertrude Butterwick – Monty's athletic fiancée, plays field hockey for England
  • Ivor Llewellyn – Stout president of the Superba-Llewellyn Motion Picture Corporation, married to Grayce
  • Grayce Llewellyn – Formidable fifth wife of Ivor Llewellyn, former actress
  • Mavis Mulligan – Extremely formidable daughter of Grayce and step-daughter of Ivor Llewellyn, loves Jimmy Ponder
  • Alexander "Chimp" Twist — Con man operating as a private investigator under the alias J. Sheringham Adair
  • Dora "Dolly" Molloy — Skilled shoplifter, married to Soapy
  • Thomas "Soapy" Molloy — Crook who sells worthless oil stock
  • J. B. Butterwick – Gertrude's father, of Butterwick, Price, & Mandelbaum, export and import merchants
  • James "Jimmy" Ponder – Partner in a big jewellery firm, gets engaged to Mavis
  • Wilfred "Cheeser" Chisholm – Knew Monty at school and loves Gertrude, policeman and hockey player

Publication history

A working title for the book was "The Honor of the Bodkins".[1]

Wodehouse dedicated the UK edition of the novel to his grandaughter Sheran Cazalet: "To Sheran with love". The front panel of the first UK edition dust jacket was illustrated by Osbert Lancaster. The front panel illustration of the first US edition dust jacket was drawn by Paul Bacon, and there is a black and white photograph of Wodehouse by Jill Krementz on the back panel.[1]

A shortened version of Pearls, Girls, and Monty Bodkin was published in the Star Weekly (Toronto, Canada) on 28 April 1973, with illustrations by Doug Fenton.[2]


  1. ^ a b c McIlvaine (1990), pp. 103–104, A95.
  2. ^ McIlvaine (1990), p. 189, D145.
  • McIlvaine, Eileen; Sherby, Louise S.; Heineman, James H. (1990). P. G. Wodehouse: A Comprehensive Bibliography and Checklist. New York: James H. Heineman Inc. ISBN 978-0-87008-125-5.

External links

  • The Wodehouse Society's page
  • The Russian Wodehouse Society's page, with a list of characters
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