The uncle in question is Frederick Altamount Cornwallis, Fifth Earl of Ickenham, better known as Uncle Fred, an old boy of such a sunny and youthful nature that explosions of sweetness and light detonate all around him (in the course, it must be said, of a plot that involves blackmail, impersonation, knock-out drops, stealing, arrests and potential jewel-smuggling). This is Wodehouse at his very best, with sundered lovers, explorers, broke publishers and irascible aristocrats all eventually yielding to the magic, ever-so-slightly-unscrupulous touch of Uncle Fred. It is, as Richard Usborne writes, 'a brilliantly sustained rattle of word-perfect dialogue and narrative topping a very complicated and well-controlled plot'.
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