Monday, March 4, 2013
The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Bertie Wooster's tranquil existence is continually disrupted by his lovelorn friend Bingo Little, the fearsome Aunt Agatha, or an engagement with a strong-willed woman - fortunately, Jeeves is always present to smooth over difficulties.
This is probably the best collection of Jeeves stories I've read so far. They are sequenced chronologically, though technically separate stories. I found myself laughing out loud in public (sorry if you came across me and were frightened) at Wooster's turns of phrase. Jeeves doesn't walk into a room; he 'shimmers in.' Grown men don't leave a club, they 'toddle.' People don't scarf their food, they 'shove their heads down' and go for it. Wooster's narration is charming and silly, as Wooster himself is.
The dialogue is likewise brilliant: "'What ho! What ho! What ho!' I said, trying to strike the genial note, and then had a sudden feeling that that was just the sort of thing I had been warned not to say." Bertie is always overestimating his own ability to express himself, and is usually unintelligible to other characters because of his frequent use of slang. (And Wodehouse can get dialogue and narration to tell two different stories like no other writer.)
For reading when you're sad, or for reading when you're happy, or reading when you don't know what you feel, Wodehouse has no equal.