This One's On Me: The Bandy Papers, Vol. 6
William Blackburn is a professor of English at the University of
This sixth volume chronicling the adventures of Bartholomew Wolfe Bandy begins with our unwilling hero plunging his plane into the sea just off the coast of Iceland. Soon forced to flee the reforming intentions of the redoubtable Sigridur — a sort of Amazon of the Snows, and a medical doctor to boot — he puts down into the sea once again to save another pilot, who turns out to be the only son of an Indian maharajah. The grateful prince offers Bandy a job organizing an air force for his independent state, but the project is frustrated at every turn by Bandy’s implacable enemy, the chief of air staff. Faced with the choice of finding other work or starving, Bandy — wan hero, erstwhile MP, and former film star — reluctantly seeks honest labour as a hospital porter. After a further series of mishaps (which include having to keep his identity somehow concealed from the Chief of Air Staff while giving him an enema!), Bandy completes his mission for the maharajah, wins the love of Sigridur (who had despaired of Bandy after pursuing him to England), and, bruised but as usual triumphant, stands poised to depart for India at the novel’s close.
Donald Jack’s humour tends toward the subtle and understated, and may seem rather slow to readers at times; devotees of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novels may regard this novel as rather like Flashman-and-water. But Jack’s deft and reserved wit and his sense of comic absurdity are well suited to capturing the atmosphere of Bandy’s post-war world, and readers who enjoyed the previous volumes of the Bandy papers will find nothing to complain of in this one.