21/04/2013

Right-ho, Jeeves (by PG Wodehouse)

It must have been about forty years ago that my father first recommended I read some PG Wodehouse books. I'm still grateful for his recommendation; his novels have been a source of enjoyment many times over the past few decades, even though I don't read them very often.

Although only the second of his Jeeves and Wooster books, I consider 'Right ho, Jeeves' to be classic Wodehouse. It begins with Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves having a little altercation about a new jacket which Bertie has bought... and relations are inevitably a little strained. It doesn’t help that Jeeves has been advising Bertie’s friend Gussie Fink-Nottle in his pursuit of Madeleine Bassett, whom he is too timid to approach... and so far, Jeeves’ efforts have not had much success.

Before long they go to stay with Bertie's Aunt Dalia, after her daughter Angela breaks her engagament to another of Bertie’s friends, Tuppy Glossop. Naturally there are various other problems afoot, including Aunt Dalia’s gambling debt, and the temperamental nature of her brilliant cook Anatole. Bertie, convinced that Jeeves has lost his touch, attempts to solve everything by himself... and gradually finds himself getting into deeper and deeper water as the unexpected occurs.

It's perhaps twenty or more years since I last read this book, but many of the scenes came back to me as I read this, off and on, during a busy period recently. I don't laugh aloud very often with PG Wodehouse, but I smile a great deal, and appreciate his wordplay and irony, and the wonderful naivety and (sometimes) gross stupidity of the hapless Bertie. It’s an excellent book for relaxation, and for delving for a while into a simpler and more amusing (albeit caricatured) world.

It needed hardly be stated that Jeeves comes out top in the end with a brilliant solution to the various problems.... albeit rather at the expense of Bertie himself.

This kind of upper-class verbal slapstick doesn't appeal to everyone, and inevitably the style is slightly dated, as it was first published in 1934. But the humour shines through, the people, if unbelievable t times, are still superb, and I enjoyed it very much.

 I was delighted to find it available free for the Kindle at Project Gutenberg although it's still in print in paperback in various editions, and often found second hand.  Note that the links shown are to paperback versions on the UK and US Amazon sites; the free electronic edition can be found by searching for the title at Project Gutenberg.

Definitely recommended.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, April 21st 2013


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