Category Archives: misc

Summer Moonshine (P.G. Wodehouse) 5*

Joe Vanringham.  Without doubt the most complicated person I’ve met in Wodehouse, he’d be in my pants while I tried to decide whether I really liked him.

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Wooster & Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse)

For a tired mind, these are books that can make a vacation out of a plane ride and a hotel room.  In the world of Wodehouse, no one has real problems, Jeeves knows all, and every story is told with charming, self-deprecating cool. Wooster and Jeeves go like this so far:

Very Good, Jeeves 3*
A collection of the short stories that started the series.  It’s fun, but the novels work better.

Right Ho, Jeeves 5*
Gussie Fink-Nottle aspires to win Madeleine Bassett’s hand but babbles about newts every time he talks to her.  Bertie speaks on Gussie’s behalf, but the drippy Bassett misconstrues — the spectre of this excruciating marriage will haunt several subsequent books.  Read for free here.

The Code of the Woosters 5*
Bertie makes his first trip to the Bassett bastion of Totleigh Towers.  He’s on a dual mission to pinch the infamous cow creamer and recover a red-hot, engagement-destroying notebook.  We meet Roderick Spode of the Black Shorts (“You mean the Black Shirts?” “No, shorts.  They were out of shirts.”).

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves 4*
Urgent telegrams call Bertie back to Totleigh Towers to patch up Gussie and Madeleine’s engagement.  Also, a hideous black amber statuette will be pinched and re-pinched.

Jeeves and the Tie that Binds 5*
Bertie, Spode, and the Bassett converge at Aunt Dahlia’s estate to help Ginger win the local MP seat.  The Junior Ganymede club book, with Jeeves’s eighteen-page account of Bertie’s doings, is dangerously in circulation.

Jeeves in the Morning 5*
This episode involves the little cottage of Wee Nooke and a wee arsonist. Florence Craye’s little brother, Edwin the boy scout from hell, really is the piece de resistance in the ghastly Uncle Percy-Aunt Agatha blended family.

The Return of Jeeves 3*
This is Jeeves without Wooster.  Funny?  Yes.  But still…where’s Bertie?  The Earl of Towcester (pronounced “Toaster”) gets into amusing scrapes, but what is the point of having only half the duo?

Nothing Serious 3*; Meet Mr. Mulliner 3.5*; No Nudes Is Good Nudes 2* (P.G. Wodehouse)

According to the dustjacket praise, it is impossible to be unhappy while reading Wodehouse.  Taking this assertion to heart, I have laid in a stock of  Wooster & Jeeves paperbacks for planes, trains, and automobiles.  I can’t pinpoint the source of the goodness — as with Austen, the plots universally involve upper-class Brits running around and getting affianced, to the point where it all becomes pure vehicle.  Austen has a delightful wickedness, but Wodehouse is gleeful escapist absurdity.  I just suspend my egalitarianism and relax into the books for a good hot soak.

Still, at almost a hundred books, there have to be misses with the hits.  My current hypothesis is that they break down according to series.  The Jeeves books are the best — Bertie’s quippy narration makes the whole world sparkle.  Mr. Mulliner tells some rollicking good tall tales, too.  The Blandings Castle books, which are not narrated in character, are a bit disappointing.  All Wodehouse plots are convoluted and contrived, but somehow the contrivation is more felt in Blandings Castle, possibly due to blandness.  They read like scripts to Fawlty Towers, which isn’t bad, but I can’t shake the sense that I’m reading a 1950s TV series.

Nothing Serious – short stories from the Drones Club, with a bit of a golf fixation.  My favorite is the first story, “The Shadow Passes,” about how Bingo Little’s wife hired Bingo’s childhood nanny to watch their newborn son.

Meet Mr. Mulliner – stories told by Mr. Mulliner, who spends 100% of his time at the pub telling stories about his relatives.  Again my favorite is the first one, “The Truth about George,” wherein Mulliner’s nephew George must talk to three strangers a day to overcome his stuttering.

No Nudes Is Good Nudes – a Blandings Castle novel wherein people get tangled up over a portrait of a reclining nude.  Gally as the hero, Emsworth as the stooge, Connie as the terror, and introducing Alaric, Duke of Dunstable as the boor.

Right Ho, Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse) 5*

This book is fun.  It makes the bookshelf just for being fun.  What is it about the English that they have so much more fun with language than we do?

Indescribable, sample it yourself at Gutenberg though holding a paper copy is ever so much more pleasurable.