2009: 83. South Wind 

“The bishop was feeling rather sea-sick.  Confoundedly sea-sick, in fact.”

South Wind, Norman Douglas

      This is a pretty obscure one.  I read it because it was on my Modern Library shelf (not to be confused with the Modern Library Top 100, but rather, just a collection of books printed under the Modern Library imprint), and my dad, who is a serious ML collector (I am just an amateur) and I always joke about it, as being the most popular ML book that we have never heard about.  Every time we look for Modern Library books we run across South Wind, and heretofore we knew nothing about it.  Well, I took one for the team, and read it, and can tell you that it is resoundingly average.  It’s fine - it’s a comic novel set on a Mediterranean island, Nepethene, (re: Capri, though he says in the introduction that it’s explicitly not Capri).  An English bishop traveling home from a sojourn in Africa stops over on Nepethene and meets all the wacky characters who live there - the local dignitaries, the sophisticated priest, the corrupt judge, the “duchess”, the drunken Englishwoman, the young men.  It’s all sufficiently madcap and reasonably entertaining - not quite as daffy as Wodehouse (too nasty for that), not as sharp as Waugh, but a blackly comic take on island life.  I’m glad I read it, because the mystery is now solved, but I can’t say I think I’m much improved for the experience.  The novel is fine, but I cannot see many modern readers getting much out of it - it seems like you’d need to have a pretty high tolerance for British comic novels of the 1920’s (which, I guess I do, but I think that’s a reasonably small subset of the population and even they would probably be better off sticking to Wodehouse, Waugh and, maybe, Jerome K. Jerome).  


Date/Place Completed:  July 2009, D.C.

Categories:  Fiction, Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017