This short story collection includes some of the earliest appearances of the brilliant Jeeves, the most famous valet in English literature. I have been reading through the novels featuring Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, but thought it would be fun to take a break and listen to some short stories for a change. These stories very much lend themselves to being read aloud, and while some narrators are better than others, they are always smart and funny tales.
This collection contains four stories featuring Bertie and Jeeves, and they are all set in New York City, which was a fun change from the others I've read. Bertie is on an extended visit there and, as always, complex and ridiculous problems arise, requiring Jeeves' intellectual prowess to solve them.
"Leave it to Jeeves" features a friend of Bertie's, who is an artist. This friend's uncle commissions him to paint a portrait, the subject of which is a baby who has replaced the artist as heir to a considerable fortune. The portrait, when it is finally finished, is not quite what the uncle had in mind. When the uncle sees it, the artist is sure to lose every last penny of his allowance - but luckily there is Jeeves to help sort everything out. Other problems Bertie faces include an unwanted guest for whom he must assume responsibility and a friend with an uncle who is a "hard-boiled egg" - so opinionated and stubborn that even Jeeves might not be able to crack him.
There are also four stories featuring another English gentleman named Reggie Pepper, similar in tone and humor to the Jeeves tales, and very entertaining as well. I did prefer those featuring Jeeves, however, because his presence always takes the stories up a notch. So much of the humor from the Jeeves stories comes from the voice of Bertie, the narrator, who is so very clueless that the reader is able to understand certain things that fly right over his head. He is often taken by a whim that gives him the always unfortunate idea to go against Jeeves' wishes, such as insisting on wearing a particularly fashionable (to him) but repugnant (to Jeeves) tie, or growing a moustache. It is clear that things will end badly for Bertie, and it is such fun to watch the consequences unfold.
Project Gutenburg offers a free copy of this work for you to read. Enjoy!
My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse; narrated by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio, 2006)
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Book Psmith: "This is an interesting collection in that the majority of these stories are reworked and published later in other collections.