With a passing nod to P.G Wodehouse, Reminiscences of an Old Rake chronicles the eventful past of a remarkable individual - the Honourable Bertram Seal. Both beloved by and a lover of the fair sex, he could perhaps be described as one of the last great Casanovas of our time. Bertie, however, is quintessentially English, one of that unique breed of gentleman bachelors that existed between the two great wars. Each book contains a collection of tales recounting our narrator's ribald escapades, though there's a lot more than just sexual intrigue to these colourful stories.
Enriched and enlivened by historical settings, Reminiscences of an Old Rake begins at the start of the 1930s in old Shanghai, a city often compared to ancient Babylon. Once a gentleman of leisure, Bertie, has fallen victim to the evils of gambling. Under the mounting pressure of debts he's forced to hand over his allowance to an administrator, lease out his lodgings, and worse still, take employment. He heads to the Orient!
Bertie Seal's Shanghai Escapades contains six episodic novellas..
''When the Boat Comes In'' finds Bertie heading for Shanghai in the year 1930, and in desperate need of funds to enable him to make a new beginning. On board the ship are two beauties, Jill and Serena, also in need of a fresh start, and our hero, against his better judgement, gets involved... High jinks on the the high seas....
''The Legend of the Fearless One from the Hills of Shanghai'' begins with, Bertie, relaxed if somewhat exhausted after six weeks of intensive setup work for the casino he is to manage. The year is 1931 and despite the great depression Shanghai is booming. The future looks certain to be rosy till Bing Ting, a Korean gangster, arrives on the scene and kidnaps our hero. The Hills come alive to the sounds of legends....
''Aunt Augustus Comes to Shanghai,'' a city she was known to describe as "Sodom & Gomorrah,' a common enough view back in the year of 1932. Her unexpected arrival flusters our hero, her nephew, Bertram Seal, who is about to marry off his sister Jill, and cousin Serena, in a joint wedding. The problem? - Well, the women are not really family!
''Shanghai Rose,'' as our hero, Bertram Seal, dubbed Mimi, had been on the scene for about six months and had done pretty well in the casino he manages. However, Mimi's luck turns sour, and desperate to continue gambling she offers him her considerable charms in exchange for credit. The year is 1933 and the place Shanghai, unfortunately, Bertie has more to worry about than morals, someone wants to kill him.
''Marrying off Lady Sally Jenkin-Jones'' turns out to be a greater challenge than one might imagine given the person's considerable charms, wealth and emancipated views. The year is 1935, the place, a libertine's paradise - Shanghai. Sally, having foolishly gotten herself involved with the treacherous local warlord, comes to our hero, Bertram Seal, in the hope he'll marry her...
''Farewell to Shanghai as Bertie Ties the Knot'' finds our hero, Bertram Seal, embroiled in underworld shenanigans. It's Shanghai in the year of 1937 and the Japanese are poised to attack. As a consequence the casino he manages has been sold, and they are off to the U.S.A. In the final days before closure a Miss Agnès Havensheer arrives with a letter of introduction, but it would appear Miss Havensheer is, in actual fact, involved in espionage. Bertie wants to do all he can to help though is flabbergasted when he learns it requires him to marry.
The stories include a number of amusing drawings by the author.