The Coming of Bill (or: Their Mutual Child; or: The White Hope, Version 2)


Read by Tim Bulkeley

(4.7 stars; 93 reviews)

Their Mutual Child (aka The Coming of Bill and The White Hope) is full of the loveable characters, preposterous situations, and opportunities to chuckle, if not outright laughs, that we expect from PG Wodehouse. It lacks the frantic slapstick of some Wodehouse comedy, but has a quieter more reflective humour.

Kirk, the erstwhile hero, is a typical Wodehousian hero. At the beginning of the story, he is thoroughly likeable, a healthy, but a somewhat weak and malleable fellow. He dabs at beings a painter for a living, and runs with a gang of hangers-on, who sponge off him. However, his life changes dramatically when he meets the charming and lovely Ruth. Ruth is out of Kirk's league socially and financially. She possesses an exceedingly rich father and an excessively dominant and eccentric aunt, Miss Laura Delane Porter. Miss Porter’s claim to fame is her authorship of books and pamphlets aimed at bettering the world through hygiene and eugenics (the highly questionable “science” of race improvement by restricting mating to superior types deemed suited to each other).

Against her father’s strong objections, but with Aunt Laura's approval, Ruth marries Kirk and for a while, wedded bliss surrounds them, crowned off by the birth of their son, Bill. Like all babies, Bill is deemed by one and all to be miraculous—unique and amazing.

However, all good things must end, as they say. Kirk, embarrassed by his inability to support Ruth in the manner in which she is accustomed, heads off to South America to seek his fortune, where he is quickly and thoroughly ruined. However, in the meantime, Ruth and her brother Bailey inherit their father's wealth. Also in Kirk’s absence, enter, of course, Laura Delane Porter, with her scrupulous ideas of hygiene and her horrors of germs, and the baby’s life becomes a nightmare. When Kirk returns, unsuccessful in his endeavors and outraged at the state of affairs at home, the marriage quickly sours.

Can anyone save Ruth and Kirk from themselves and rebuild their happy home?

Their Mutual Child aka The Coming of Bill or The White Hope by P. G. Wodehouse, first appeared in “Munsey's Magazine” in May 1914, under the title "The White Hope.” It was published in the U.S. under the title Their Mutual Child in 1919, and in the U.K. with the title, The Coming of Bill in 1920. (Introduction by Susan Claybrook and Tim Bulkeley with information from the Wikipedia entry.)

(8 hr 35 min)

Chapters

A Pawn of Fate 24:56 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Ruth States Her Intentions 18:31 Read by Tim Bulkeley
The Mates Meet 16:35 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Troubled Waters 25:27 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Wherein Opposites Agree 26:28 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Breaking the News 16:11 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Sufficient unto themselves 27:32 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Suspense 18:20 Read by Tim Bulkeley
The White Hope is Turned Down 20:45 Read by Tim Bulkeley
An Interlude of Peace 11:03 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Stung to Action 13:04 Read by Tim Bulkeley
A Climax 13:35 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Empty-handed 17:02 Read by Tim Bulkeley
An Unknown Path 26:16 Read by Tim Bulkeley
The Misadventure of Steve 20:38 Read by Tim Bulkeley
The Widening Gap 16:40 Read by Tim Bulkeley
The Real Thing 13:44 Read by Tim Bulkeley
The Outcasts 20:24 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Cutting the Tangled Knot 37:33 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Steve to the Rescue 8:38 Read by Tim Bulkeley
At One in the Morning 15:33 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Accepting the Gifts of the Gods 15:26 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Mr Penway on the Grill 19:38 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Dolls with Souls 20:35 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Pastures New 12:06 Read by Tim Bulkeley
The Sixty-first Street Cyclone 16:40 Read by Tim Bulkeley
Mrs. Porter's Waterloo 16:54 Read by Tim Bulkeley
The White-Hope Link 5:12 Read by Tim Bulkeley

Reviews

Delightful Bacilli-ness Wodehousefully read

(5 stars)

You know PG. Wodehouse on Modern Hygienic Childrearing inherently equals Big Fun, especially when you discover the Authority involved is that most fearful of Wodehouse's antagonists, the dreaded Aunt. Fortunately Aunt Laura is not in the same league as Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha. Unfortunately, Aunt Laura is a celebrated authoress on books on Sterilizing Baby's World. And books on Eugenics, that most embarrassing of recent pseudosciences, in which many respected Western thinkers supported the idea of regulating reproduction so that only the chosen have babies. Some U. S. states did actually sterilize people against their will. Wodehouse and G .K. Chesterton were asking the few who saw the humbug of these things, and this book is Wodehouse's contribution. So of course you want to read it! Both versions on LibriVox are well-done by favorite readers. Try t other version if you prefer U.S. accent Wodehouse, something probably unique to wonderful LibriVox! I switched back and forth for fun.

Quite pleasant

(4 stars)

Despite a more subdued humor as compared to other P.G. Wodehouse works, this story still is full of witticisms and laughter-worthy quips. The characters are less melodramatic and the plot more dramatic, bringing the reader (or in this case, listener) through a scale of emotions: happiness, sadness, frustration, amusement... It's entertaining and worth the attention of any Wodehouse fan. The narrator does an excellent job! His tone is rich and he voices the different characters well.

Fantastic Reading. First Rate

(5 stars)

It's a great story but it's the reading that makes it fantastic. Don't miss this one. A comic masterpiece that really shines due to the well done (and not overdone) voices. This was a pure joy to listen to.

Buckeley does it again!

(5 stars)

Tim Buckeley is my favorite librivox reader and he hits a striking home run with this story, which is well worth listening to. The story is unique and original and the ending is absolutely delightful.

satire, not the fun I expected

(3 stars)

I have come to expect fast-moving fun from Wodehouse. This book has humor, but is more of a satire on society of the time. Not fun and laughs

Terrific book, well read

(5 stars)

Mr. Bulkeley does a masterful job of bringing Wodehouse's novel to life. His voice characterizations are priceless. One of Wodehouse's best books, professionally read.

Marvellous

(5 stars)

quite possibly the best Wodehouse ever. great humor, many twists, with some heartbreak mixed in. But it all works out in the end. good narrator also.

VINTAGE BOOK, WHATEVER THE TITLE

(5 stars)

Other reviewers have said it all. Wodehouse + a fanatical aunt + Bulkeley equals a winner every time.