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14th August
2009
written by Steph
AKA "Joy in the Morning" (to our UK readers)... and what a joy it is!

AKA "Joy in the Morning" (to our UK readers)... and what a joy it is!

How come no one told me how amazing Jeeves & Wooster are? OK, not entirely true, since pretty much everyone I know who has ever read these books has told me that they are smart and funny and that I would love them. So, my bad, I guess for not having read any of these until now. But don’t let yourself fall into the same trap, because Jeeves & Wooster? Hilarious!

After the slow death that was Amsterdam I needed a book that would thrill me and whisk me away. It didn’t have to be funny, but I’m never one to turn down a few chuckles. Enter Jeeves in the Morning (or if we’re being true to the novel itself, it would probably be more appropriate to say the book shimmered in… Jeeves does a lot of shimmering when he enters and exits a room.), which was just the ticket.

I am reluctant to divulge any of the plot, because with J&W stories, plot is kind of the main focus. Which isn’t to say that the writing isn’t brilliant and hilarious, because it is, but there’s not really a lot of character development going on. In this case, the basic premise is that Bertie Wooster has vowed to never visit the town of Steeple Bumpleigh because it is the home of his opposing uncle Percy, husband to Bertie’s austere Aunt Agatha. But through various twists of fate, Bertie finds himself making a trip to the small town, only to have a series of madcap antics ensue which only emphasize why he hates to visit there!

And as for the antics, I really do say that you need to experience them for yourself, because the jokes won’t be nearly as funny if I tell them secondhand. All I can say is that I laughed a good deal, and read wide swaths of passages to Tony. Some of the action is a bit predictable, but it’s all so zany and kooky and done in the best possible spirit, it’s nigh impossible not to fall in love with the good spirit that courses through the book. If you’ve ever seen the play/movie Noises Off, that gives you a good idea of the type of comedy happening here – it’s really a comedy of errors… But as Jeeves would remind us, to err is human, and so this is ultimately a story that no human being can fail to be tickled by. It’s not just the action that will have you giggling with mirth, because sometimes the scenarios become so contrived, so preposterous, that it would be easy to dismiss it as trivial nonsense. But the writing! Oh, the writing sings and skips and frolics about so wonderfully. There is such playfulness in Wodehouse’s pen, and without his delivery, so much of what he sets up would fall flat. But his words and wit are so lively and sharp, it’s really something to behold. Just the names alone were enough to get me chuckling: Percy Worplesdon, Stilton Cheeseworth, Boko Fittleworth, Nobby Hopwood, J. Chichester Clam… laughter overcomes me just typing them!

Here’s an example of the dry humor you’ll find throughout (but worry not, there’s lots of campy physical comedy as well):

“When, about eighteen months before, news had reached me through well-informed channels that my Aunt Agatha, for many years a widow, or derelict, as I believe it is called, was about to take another pop at matrimony, my first emotion, as was natural in the circumstances, had been a gentle pity for the unfortunate goop slated to step up the aisle with her – she, as you are aware, being my tough aunt, the one who eats broken bottles and conducts human sacrifices by the light of the full moon.”

Yup, Jeeves in the Morning is 250 pages of that. Amazing.

If that hasn’t sealed the deal, I don’t know that much will, but I will leave you with two thoughts:

  1. I am certain I will be seeking out as many Jeeves & Wooster novels/short story collections as I can get my hands on. And not JUST J&W either! P.G. Wodehouse was insanely prolific and wrote about the misadventures of a good deal of characters, and now I want to sample them all! (The only problem is it seems somewhat problematic to get my hands on copies of the collections and novels, as many of them are out of print… any fans out there have suggestions of good J&W resources and places I can procure more tales?)
  2. As a direct result of having read this book, I have started bringing the greeting “What ho!” back into my lexicon with middling success. I don’t always remember to do it (and mostly just direct it at Tony), but when I do, it always seems to start the conversation off on the right foot!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

13 Comments

  1. 08/14/2009

    What ho, Steph! It’s been ages since I’ve read any of these, but every single one that I have read is hilarious. And you simply must watch the series with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. They get the humor in the books just right.

  2. 08/14/2009

    Oh, and p.s. You may already know, but just in case you don’t…your blog has gone all wonky on Internet Explorer. The home page won’t load, and the books page shows the title of your latest post, but the post itself is for “The Things They Carried.” I first noticed it yesterday, and it was like that on IE on both my home and work computer. Looks fine on Firefox, though.

  3. 08/14/2009

    What ho, Teresa! I am desperate to try and find more of these books, but alas the collection at our public library is pretty uninspiring and I almost NEVER find these books at the used bookstore (little wonder). And the books new are something like $12 each, which becomes expensive when you consider how many books Wodehouse wrote… But I do have the series with Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie on our Netflix queue, and I look forward to that! I’m just waiting until I’ve read a few more titles before I venture into the moving pictures world of J&W.
    And thanks for the info about IE and our page… I will try to look into it. As you said it runs fine on Firefox, and I tried out Safari and that looks good too… Can’t imagine what could be bothering IE, but I’ll try to figure it out!

  4. 08/15/2009

    Sounds like fun! Next time in a light read mood, I’ll have to look for it.

  5. Simona
    08/16/2009

    Death to IE!

  6. Kay
    08/17/2009

    I have yet to try anything by Wodehouse, but you make me want to even more than I already did. I’m desperate to find them; my library has only a few old copies and the bookstore doesn’t sell them cheap.
    Oh, and your blog looks great in Google Chrome, too. I don’t know if your IE issue has been resolved, but it seem to be the only browser who’s misbehaving.

  7. 08/17/2009

    @Rebecca: It’s definitely great if you’re in the mood for something light and whimsical. I found it a great palate cleanser!
     
    @Simona: My sentiments exactly!
     
    @Kay: That’s my problem too – my library’s selection is pretty paltry, and most of the books that I could purchase for myself are pretty pricey. It would be great if I could find reliable anthologies/omnibuses.

  8. 08/19/2009

    I love the Jeeves and Wooster books, and have read many of them. They are a lot of fun, and I have a slight crush on Jeeves. Did you know that there was a short lived Jeeves and Wooster series on television? It was not as funny as the books, but you might like to try it and see for yourself. It was very short lived, I think only a few episodes. You can get it from Netflix and Blockbuster. If you do end up watching it, I would be curious as to your thoughts about it.

  9. 08/20/2009

    @ Zibilee: I did know about the show, but I haven’t tried it yet; I want to get more of a flavor for the books themselves before I switch media. But they are sitting on our massive Netflix queue, and I’ll be sure to report back once we actually watch a few!

  10. 08/22/2009

    If you liked the Wooster and Jeeves series, you should definitely try the Empress of Blamdings series by Wodehouse.

    British humor at its finest!

  11. 08/22/2009

    Thanks for the rec, Nish. I definitely want to try that one out, along with all the other series!

  12. […] in my opinion.  Particularly awesome in this book were all of the ridiculous names (I think we established in my Jeeves in the Morning review, that I am a sucker for hilarious names, and this time they are punny, which is even better!): of […]

  13. […] Jeeves & Wooster novels that I picked up on our trip to New York.  You’ll all recall that I adored my first dalliance with Wodehouse a few months back, so I was certain this would be just the ticket to cure me of my reading malaise.  So, you can […]

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