Saturday, February 14, 2009

What Ho!

Life with Jeeves Life with Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an omnibus of three of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster books; Right Ho, Jeeves, The Inimitable Jeeves, and Very Good, Jeeves! The first is a novel, the other two are collections of short stories told in chronological order and linked by some common characters and events. Which is a very boring way for me to start a review of Wodehouse. I'll try again. What ho! Here are some jolly good stories about our favorite upper class twit and his preternaturally efficient valet. If you don't already know Bertie Wooster and his man the amazing Jeeves then you are poorer for the lack, but richer for the potential.

I tend to think of these stories as taking place in a fantasy realm. Yes, it is clearly identified as being England of the 1920s and 30s, but it isn't really that time and place. Bertie's world is a nearly idyllic neverland where breakfast is always served in bed, tragedy is unknown, and no matter what silly mess he gets into, in the end he will always end up just as he began, just tickety-boo. I should warn you that Bertie's use of the language will get into your head and start messing with the old vocab. The plot of these things doesn't matter. It's always something silly, like Bertie's friend Bingo is in love and needs help obtaining his father's approval. Some sort of insane scheme is developed. Everything goes ridiculously wrong and Bertie ends up in a jam, then Jeeves solves all his problems with his customary brilliance and aplomb. Meanwhile you just sit back and laugh yourself silly.

Perhaps the long form is not the best for Jeeves and Wooster, as I found Right Ho, Jeeves to be the least of the three books. In order for the convoluted plot to continue to wind itself out, Jeeves had to be prevented from actually helping for most of the story. I spent most of the book waiting for Jeeves to apply his great brain to the trouble. He does, of course, and the ending is fully satisfying. The two collections are little boxes of perfect literary confections. Beautiful, funny stuff. So then, that's all, cheerio, tinkery-tonk.

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