Thursday, April 2, 2009

Right Ho, Jeeves

If it hadn't been for Bertie's cousin Angela and the shark - not to mention the new mess jacket Bertie acquired in Cannes, none of it would have happened. But the fact that Jeeves oozes disapproval at the idea of Bertie wearing such an inappropriate garment in England, combined with the fact that Bertie finds himself cast aside thoughtlessly as everyone rushes to consult Jeeves about their troubles - Jeeves, never Bertie - makes Bertie decide he's had it. Surely he can solve their problems every bit as easily as Jeeves? Especially after Jeeves' advice to Bertie's friend Gussie Fink-Nottle ends up with Gussie gallivanting through London dressed in a red Mephistopheles outfit. Jeeves has lost his touch, Bertie decides. He will handle Gussie's problems himself.

This fateful decision on Bertie's part results in a hilarious matchmaking fiasco, with everyone engaged to anyone but the one they truly love, as Bertie wreaks such havoc with each scheme that his aunt takes to calling him Attila. Wodehouse is truly a comedic master. His set-ups are meticulous and brilliant - everything goes into place, just so, and the results are so very funny and always - even when you can see much of it coming - present a few delightful additional twists and surprises. He is particularly skillful with dialogue: each character has such a distinctive way of speaking that it would be simple to tell whose lines were whose if they were taken out of context. The characters are not simply foils for the humor or action; they possess unexpected depth, with pasts and aspirations and ties with others that embroil them very satisfactorily into the plots of the books.

I am thoroughly enjoying my revisit to the world of Jeeves and Wooster, particularly as narrated by Alexander Spencer (not the author in the above cover - sorry). He is an excellent reader, delivering each line with impeccable timing and expression, and truly, these are stories that lend themselves perfectly to being read aloud. I have already ordered the third book from my library, and am very much looking forward to whatever pickle Bertie will doubtlessly get himself into next - and even more, to the delight of watching him try to extricate himself. With Jeeves nearby, there's no real fear, of course, but it's a joy to watch it all unfold.

Books in the Jeeves and Wooster series (the novels):
1. Thank You, Jeeves
2. Right Ho, Jeeves
3. Code of the Woosters
4. Jeeves in the Morning
5. Mating Season
6. Return of Jeeves
7. Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit
8. How Right You Are, Jeeves
9. Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves
10. Jeeves and the Tie That Binds
11. Cat-Nappers

Right-Ho, Jeeves (#2 in the Jeeves and Wooster series) by P.G. Wodehouse, read by Alexander Spencer (Recorded Books, 1997; originally published 1934)

Also reviewed at:
Age 30+...A Lifetime of Books: "It's sort of a comedy of errors, a comedy of manners, and a good dash of British humor all shaken and poured for your enjoyment."
On the Shelf: "This has been rather a giggle and I fear that I may start spouting such words as "what-ho!" and "spiffing!" at any given moment."
Vulpes Libris: "...he offers us a view of a world that most of us will never have any meaningful contact with and fills it with characters we want to know and to care about."

6 comments:

  1. This is the only Jeeves book I have read and I really liked it. I've heard listening to them is even better! Great review.

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  2. Hi, Tricia. Thanks! I enjoyed this one even more than the first one I listened to last month. I'm looking forward to the rest!

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  3. I really should attempt to read some Wodehouse. I was introduced via television through Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, and I thoroughly enjoyed it; I think I would like the written version even better, as I often do.

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  4. Kiirstin - I've never seen the Fry and Laurie shows, but I'm planning on watching them now! I'd love to hear what you think if you read any of these. Maybe the short stories would be a good place to start.

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  5. I read and watched all of these when I was a kid and loved them. I caught an episode on tv recently and they seemed so quaint and harmlessly entertaining. They dont make tv/write books like that any more!

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  6. Maybe my girls will enjoy watching them with me - I'll give it a try! :-)

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