Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Back to the Classics Challenge 2021 – P.G. Wodehouse

 


I chose to read some Wooster and Jeeves for the category “Classic Humor or Satire”. I’ve seen a few episodes of the hilarious adaptations starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry but had never read any Wodehouse before. And here I had this chunky  bind up that I bought at a library sale or Goodwill years ago, just begging to be read.  I am so very glad I took the plunge - they were so very, very funny!  

The below listed three titles are sequential but late in the series, published in 1960, 1963 and 1971 respectively. There is a lot to be gained reading them in order, I believe, since there is usually a little throw back to events and characters in previous novels and when I reached the third book, I was laughing out loud while reading.  

So now my plan is to read all the Wooster and Jeeves novels in order. It won’t take me too long to achieve this – a couple of years maybe. There’s a total of 16 novels I believe, but the individual books are fairly short – under 300 pages.  The plots are pretty much all the same, Bertie gets into trouble, usually meaning well, and Jeeves gets him out of it. Some of the humor is in that repetition.

How Right You Are, Jeeves

When Bertie Wooster’s valet, Jeeves, takes a holiday, Bertie heads down to Brinkley Court to stay with his Aunt Dahlia. Dahlia wants Bertie to prevent her goddaughter, Phyllis Mills, from marrying the American playboy Willie Cream, both of whom are also staying at Brinkley Court. Also guests of the manor are Willie’s mother, the thriller writer Mrs. Homer Cream, a novelist, Phyllis step-father, Aubrey Upjohn who unfortunately was also the headmaster at Bertie’s boarding school and has a long memory, and the spunky Roberta “Bobbie” Wickham who tends to get Bertie in trouble whenever she is around. The ridiculous plot thickens and Bertie gets into all kinds of trouble due to both Bobbie and his own silliness.

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves

Bertie is induced to return to Totleigh Towers despite the fact that its owner Sir Watkyn Bassett once jailed him for a college prank and frankly can’t stand him. Also, Sir Watkyn’s daughter, Madeline, has vowed to become Mrs. Wooster if her current engagement to Gussie Fink fails. When that affiance is threatened, Bertie has no choice but to enter the lion’s den and patch up Gussie and Madeline’s relationship to avoid dreaded matrimony himself. Of course, many other hijinks ensue: Bertie is (falsely) accused of theft and then kleptomania, spends a night in jail; Jeeves impersonates a Scotland Yard Chief Inspector; a garish alpine hat is sacrificed.

Jeeves and the Tie That Binds

We learn that Jeeves belongs to a club for manservants in which pertinent details of their employers are committed to a book “to inform those seeking employment of the sort of thing they will be taking on”. Bertie is afraid that the book (with an incredible 18 pages devoted solely to him) will fall into the wrong hands. For once, Bertie isn’t wrong. Jeeves and Wooster go to stay at Aunt Dahlia’s with the aim of helping Bertie’s old pal Harold “Ginger” Winship who is standing for Parliament in the by-election at Market Snodsbury. Unfortunately, Ginger’s impetus for politics is his fiancée, Florence Cray, one of Bertie’s old paramours. Also staying at Brinkley Court is Madeline Bassett and her suitor, Lord Sidcup, one of Bertie’s avowed enemies. Without any spoilers, this is the novel where Bertie finally commits to a relationship.

12 comments:

  1. Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry were such a great team. I'm glad to know the novels were so much fun that you want to read all the novels in order. That encourages me to give them a try--we all need some laughter!

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    1. Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are really marvelous comedians! The books seemed to get funnier as I read on. I suspect that reader gets more and more of the inside jokes when read sequentially.

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  2. We can definitely all use something funny these days!

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  3. I need to read more Jeeves stories! They're so much fun. I'm trying to decide between a Wodehouse novel or Auntie Mame for my humorous classic. Maybe I'll read both. :)

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    1. I have a copy of Auntie Mame too. Read that and then your review will hopefully encourage me to pick it up soon. :D

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  4. Hi Ruthiella, I am so happy you liked P. G Wodehouse. The creation of Bertie Wooster was comic genius and one thing that suprised me is that Wodehouse wrote this series into the 1970's. I had always assumed the series was written and took place in the 1920's and 1930's tops. And boy did they find the perfect actor to portray Bertie in Hugh Laurie. I also loved him in House. The man can do anything.

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    1. Hi Kathy, I was surprised too to see these published so late in the 20th century. They definitely take place in the'20s and '30s, however. I agree that Hugh Laurie is amazingly talented. My only quibble with House was why not let him keep his English accent? It would have made him even more pompous sounding to an American audience, IMO. :D

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  5. Laugh out loud books are absolutely priceless. I haven't read a lot of Wodehouse but whenever I do, they make me feel wonderful. Now I have to find the Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry videos--they sound marvelous.

    And I love reading projects like this--reading in order is my favorite, and this does seem achievable!

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    1. Laughter is a wonderful medicine. Oh, you will love the Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry adaptations. They were born to play these parts! I think my little project is very achievable considering the length of the books. The biggest problem will be not binging them all at once, I think :D.

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  6. My 16 yr old is loving Wodehouses' books but I rarely choose a humorous story unless I'm reading it aloud. I tried listening to an audio of one of his books but I didn't like the narrator so didn't continue.

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    1. Narrators for audio books are critical. They can make or break the experience. I'm glad your daughter is enjoying Wodehouse! Once I finish the Wooster and Jeeves books, I will have to check out his other stuff. He wrote a ton.

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