Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Right Ho, Jeeves!
Purely in the interest of diversion, I've just gone through another P.G. Wodehouse book in the Jeeves and Wooster series. This one was Right Ho, Jeeves! It was a full length novel, a rip-roaring good time, and not, I think, entirely frivolous. I'll return to this in a moment.
For those of you unacquainted with the Jeeves series, you really should amend that state of affairs in your life. They are delightful books. They revolve around Bertram Wilberforce "Bertie" Wooster who is a man of his times (1920s and 1930s, although the earliest stories I believe are from the 'teens), class (upper), and place of origin (Great Britain.) The stories are written from his point of view. In his employ is a valet named Jeeves. Among the more prominent running gags is that Wooster, the master, is a bit bumbling and prone to get into difficult spots while Jeeves, the servant, is wise, highly intelligent, and seemingly infallible in his advice.
To wit, the beginning of the well known British television adaptation with Stephen Fry, one of my favorite living humans, in the role of Jeeves and Hugh Laurie, maybe you've heard of him, as Wooster.
It's a fun series and, yes, there are Jeeves and Wooster geeks. I am one.
The book in question revolves around a series of romantic mishaps in Bertie's peer group who, through a series of additional mishaps, end up visiting Bertie's Aunt Dahlia's estate en masse. Bertie gets snippy over a dinner jacket that Jeeves strongly discourages him from wearing and expresses his hypothesis that Jeeves has lost his touch. Bertie decides that this time he will take it upon himself to solve the problems surrounding him without the help of Jeeves. You can probably well imagine the direction that takes. As usual, I'm reluctant to spoil the plot, but the end is in the manner of a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera where the lovers all fall in with their appropriate lovers and everyone gets the desserts coming to them.
Along with the high entertainment value, the turns of phrase are excellent and extremely clever. I come away from the books having a light education (finally being driven to look up the details of the wreck of the Hesperus) and vocabulary bolstering (finally looking up the definition of "collation" to slip into conversations that drift toward the culinary) snuck in by a highly inventive author. It's also the sort of book I can bring up when someone who cares about me expresses concern over the gloominess of my usual literary fare. I'm surprised it took me this long to say it, but if you've never read Wodehouse before, I cannot recommend him highly enough.