Saturday, December 22, 2018

Thank You, Jeeves: Review

Bertie Wooster is (big surprise) cheerfully causing trouble. This time he disrupts his home life with a banjo. He's recently discovered this delightful instrument and is determined to master it. His dedicated but untuneful playing cause his neighbors to complain to the building manager and he's given an ultimatum--either he ditches the banjo or he and the banjo must go. He opts to go. When Jeeves finds that Bertie plans to move the household to a cottage in the country so he can practice in peace, he regretfully submits his resignation. Next thing we know, Bertie is staying at one of his friend Chuffy's cottage (Chuffy being a Baron with a huge estate and loads of land, random cottages, and no money) and Jeeves is up at the manor house as Chuffy's valet.

Further shenanigans ensue when Bertie's ex-fiancee, Pauline Stoker, shows up with her rich papa who is interested in taking the estate off Chuffy's hands and filling them (Chuffy's hands) with money in exchange. Chuffy promptly falls in love with Pauline and she with him, but of course the path of true love is strewn with problems. Will Bertie be willing to sacrifice another bit of his reputation to see his friend happily married with a land deal in the bargain? And more importantly, will he ever give up the banjo and get Jeeves back into his service where he belongs?

So...a few years ago (when this blog was young), I started on a little P. G. Wodehouse reading jag. I read several of his Blandings Castle books and one non-series book and, for the most part, I thought they were hilarious. I've watched several of the Jeeves & Wooster episodes with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie...and, for the most part, I thought those were hilarious too. While I was on my reading jag, I (as I'm wont to do) also went on a buying binge and scooped up Wodehouse books whenever they came my way. 

Well...apparently my funny bone isn't tickled in the same way as it was about seven years ago. Or I'm just not in the right frame of mind for Bertie Wooster's silliness. I mean to say, it all started out okay. I was smiling over Bertie's efforts to play the banjolele (as he calls it) and how he annoyed the neighbors and even drove Jeeves to leave his employment because of his enthusiastic practicing. But then the humorous bottom just fell out. I wasn't appreciating the bucolic country setting. I didn't think much of Bertie's plan to help his friend Chuffy get the girl--by kissing her himself. And most of the supporting characters weren't as fun (or funny) as I remembered Wodehouse characters being from my previous experiences. Jeeves, of course, is marvelous (and saved the book for me) with his wide knowledge of literature (a quotation for every occasion) and his fantastic way of smoothing all that is ruffled, pouring just the right amount of oil on troubled waters, and unobtrusively orchestrating everything towards a happy ending. ★★

I've got other Jeeves books on the TBR pile...I think I'll put them off for a bit. Maybe my Wodehouse funny bone will come back.

No comments: