Oh, Bertie Wooster. You are so silly and so deadpan. The dialogue is killer. The abbreviations are droll. The voice of Bertie is priceless. (I did get a voice – literally – for Bertie in my head in my first Wodehouse encounter via audio, which if anything has increased my enjoyment. Luckily the narrator was great and I now hear him in my head as I read this.) Wodehouse is a comic genius. These Jeeves-and-Wooster books are light, easy, even fluffy, but also pure gold: so easy to consume and so very pleasurable.
The story is this. Our narrator, Bertie Wooster, is a man of leisure in the London scene, light on the brains, perhaps, but blissfully unaware of it. He doesn’t have real problems, but rather those of a Shakespearean comedy plot. In my limited (two book) experience, they are the problems of confused lovers. Think A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Luckily, Bertie, and his surrounding community, are served by the genius valet Jeeves – so quintessentially useful, wise, clever, and discreet that his name has become an eponym. Jeeves solves all the problems, in the end, with aplomb, good taste, and tact. He even lets Bertie think he’s clever too – sometimes. I should also point out that Wodehouse has a genius for names. Bertie Wooster, Reginald Jeeves, and “the Bassett” are tamely named in comparison to Gussie Fink-Nottle, Tuppy Glossop, and the Market Snodsbury School. (Husband’s favorite is still Whatwhatley, or however you might spell it, from Thank You, Jeeves.)
In this book, Bertie is called to Aunt Dahlia’s country home to help out a pair of troubled lovers: cousin Angela and her fiance Tuppy. They are quickly joined by Madeline Bassett and her admirer, Bertie’s old friend Gussie, who has a debilitating fascination with newts, to the exclusion of everything else until Madeline came along. Gussy is having trouble wooing Madeline; Angela has throw Tuppy over. Bertie finagles Gussy into speaking at the Market Snodsbury grammar school in his stead. Bertie decides the answer to teetotaler Gussy’s problems is to get him drunk just before his speech. This results in a switcheroo (as my mother would say), and Angela ends up engaged to Gussy. Bertie’s machinations not seeming to do the trick, as usual, Jeeves steps in and saves the day. Right ho, Jeeves.
I love these little books and think I need to keep one on the nightstand always. They are laugh-out-loud silly job. If you can find audiobooks read by Jonathon Cecil, I recommend them as well.