So, it looks like I have a weird soft spot for fast-paced stories about ridiculously rich Englishmen with capable manservants – Lord Peter Wimsey was my gateway gentleman, and now Bertie Wooster is going to join him. Do I have to hand in my lefty card now?
Bertie’s world of misunderstandings, weird relatives and acquaintances and slightly unconventional clothing items is singularly pleasant to inhabit, and I look forward to going back there soon.
Oh come on. What is there to say about Wodehouse’s writing? It’s almost unflashy with how efficiently funny it is. How tight. Consider the very beginning – Right Ho, Jeeves opens with Bertie bursting into the middle of the story, then winding himself back – it didn’t start in the middle of this conversation, it started when they went to Cannes, because that’s where Angela had her shark experience and Aunt Dahlia did all her gambling. You settle yourself in for the real beginning… only for Bertie to get the shark and casino stories out of the way in a few efficient, anticlimactic sentences. What a terrible storyteller. And then, as the story goes on, the shark and the casino keep coming back – they really are the crux of the farce. Beautifully done. It’s like, three laughs for the price of one.
And I did laugh. In public. On trains.
There’s something for every sense of humour – wordplay, farce, slapstick, delightfully elaborate insult (Aunt Dahlia’s pronouncement that Bertie looked like “one of the chorus of male guests at Abernethy Towers in Act 2 of a touring musical comedy” made me wish I had friends who dressed outrageously just to steal it), the oblivious narrator.
I just don’t have much to say. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and all the short stories (seemingly thematically related to Right Ho, Jeeves itself, cut from other collections), and really want to see the TV series if I can get my hands on it somehow. Apparently we have another Jeeves in the flat, so Very Good, Jeeves will also be going on my list.
I feel a bit bad for writing something so short about something I enjoyed so much (when I can write 1,000 word monsters about things I want to nitpick) so I’ll leave you with this interview with Wodehouse instead of trying to say in a new way what everyone knows already.