30 December, 2015

Carry on, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

There are some writers for whom you just know your love will remain forever undimmed. For me, Wodehouse belongs in that select group.

Wodehouse’s oeuvre is extensive, but it is the Jeeves stories which remain his most loved work. Incredibly, it is one hundred years since Wodehouse introduced us to Bertie Wilberforce Wooster, the idle and foppish Londoner, and Reginald Jeeves, his ingenious and impeccably attired valet. So began one of the most touching and charming relationships in English literary history, and the start of so many effortlessly funny and intelligent stories. 

This collection contains ten mini-stories, nine told from Bertie’s perspective and one from that of Jeeves. Many of them fit into the familiar genre of a disaster befalling either Bertie or a jolly good friend of his, and Jeeves masterminding a solution that saves the day in the nick of time. 

The first story recounts how Jeeves came into the life of Wooster and became immediately indispensable, engineering his release from what promised to be a rather unsuitable engagement. Several of the other stories are set in New York, where Wooster whiles away a pleasant exile after some family mishaps.

Wodehouse’s characterization is acute, his aptness of phrase peerless. There are few writers who can create such memorable personalities is so short a literary space. To read his stories is to be carried away to a somewhat idealized 1920s and 1930s England or United States that you cannot help but think would have been an exceedingly entertaining place, provided that you were of a certain class of course.

If you enjoy reading the books, try out the Jeeves and Wooster TV series, featuring two of Wodehouse’s biggest fans, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, in impeccable comic form.

Author: P.G. Wodehouse

Reviewed by Nick K, Ranui Library

Nick K enjoys reading crime fiction, demonological adult and young adult fiction, classic children’s fiction like Arthur Ransome and picture books, especially those illustrated by Quentin Blake. He hates reality TV. 

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