Although I am generally in the company of a Jeeves book, I have avoided writing a review of any Wodehouse book so far. I love them too much and there is no way I can do justice to them by way of a review. But sadly enough, there are people in the world not aware of the literary genius that was P. G. Wodehouse. I find it surprising that a lot of Americans are not very conversant with the Wodehouse characters and the man himself, considering that he spent many decades living in New York and even met his demise there. Jeeves and Bertie are the more famous of P.G. Wodehouse characters, and arguably the best.
Bertram Wooster or Bertie as he is called by his friends is a confirmed bachelor. He lives a life of leisure sometime in the early 1900s, living on some inheritance. Most of his friends are lords and earls, and many join the ‘Lords’ sometime or the other in their life. Bertie has a man or valet called Jeeves. Jeeves is exacting and intelligent, reading Spinoza, sharpening his wit on a diet of fish. Bertie is generally a dumbo. Bertie spends his life lunching at his club, partying at night, and occasionally visiting country estates. He is a soft touch and everyone’s go-to guy when someone needs to get out of a scrape. Jeeves, with his high power of intellect provides the strategy, and Bertie does the leg work. How is this funny, you may ask!
I am not equipped to comment on what kind of humor Wodehouse went in for, or why the Jeeves and Wooster books are funny. They just are, and you need to read a few and decide for yourself.
Carry On Jeeves is a collection of short stories and is a great way to experience Jeeves in small bites. Bertie finds himself engaged to Florence Craye. Jeeves is convinced it is not a good match and will leave no stone unturned to convince Bertie of it. The Jeeves-Bertie relationship is new at this point, and Bertie is flabbergasted at how ‘forward’ his valet is being. The usual cast of characters appear – aunts, loony doctors, distressed friends – and Bertie gradually begins to realize how much of a prodigy Jeeves is as he pulls his master out of these scrapes.
Considering the recent popularity of Downton Abbey, young readers might be able to better visualize a world from 100 years ago where people ‘dressed for dinner’. Other Wodehouse series like Blandings Castle are equally funny, and there are many more Jeeves books I will be reviewing henceforth. Until then, enjoy Carry On, Jeeves. I dare you not to crack a smile.