Friday, July 15, 2011

Musings: Right Ho, Jeeves

Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse is one of the early full-length novels featuring Bertie Wooster and his unflappable valet, Jeeves.  The only other Wodehouse I've (tried to) read is The Man with Two Left Feet, a short story collection that I didn't really enjoy.  I laughed my way through this novel, though, so I am very excited that there is so much more in the Wooster and Jeeves pantheon for me to dig into.

Right Ho, Jeeves is a situational comedy.  Multiple friends and relatives of Wooster come to Jeeves for help with their troubles, and Wooster does his best to stick his own two cents in, often with less than stellar results.  I think this is probably the way every Jeeves and Wooster novel goes, so I don't think I would want to read them one right after another.  But this one hit the spot and made me snort on public transit and was just an utter delight.

In many ways, Bertie Wooster's narrative style reminded me of the one employed in Three Men in a Boat.  He is highly conversational with his audience and even more fabulous interacting with his friends and family.  He's also absolutely hilarious.  I loved all of his asides about his family, the way he described different people, and his internal dialogue about the various characters populating this novel.  And his whole lifestyle just fascinates me- here's a guy who can keep himself entertained:
The discovery of a toy duck in the soap dish, presumably the property of some former juvenile visitor, contributed not a little to this new and happier frame of mind. What with one thing and another, I hadn't played with toy ducks in my bath for years, and I found the novel experience most invigorating. For the benefit of those interested, I may mention that if you shove the thing under the surface with the sponge and then let it go, it shoots out of the water in a manner calculated to divert the most careworn.
 I say I laughed through the whole thing, but I can't find one real quote to share with you about how hilarious the book is because it's not really a one-liner thing.  It's more a contextual thing, and he keeps referencing back to things he mentioned earlier in the book, and it's all wonderful.  I just can't prove it to you, but I hope you take my word for it.  The graduation speech alone had me wiping away tears of laughter.  It's classic.  I hope to watch the TV version of this book so that I can see that scene brought to life.

One thing I found a little sad and probably would care more about if this had been a more serious novel was just how vocal Bertie's aunt is about how stupid she thinks he is.  Granted, her insults are quite colorful and entertaining, but she's very generous with them, and I couldn't help feeling just a little protective over my poor Bertie Wooster, who was just doing his best to help.

What's interesting in this book (and I imagine this holds true for the others as well) is that we don't get a great read on Jeeves.  We get to know Bertie really, really well, and we know how Jeeves stands in relation to him, but we don't get much insight into Jeeves himself.  It is probably for the best as I think we'd lose much of Jeeves' air of competence and mystery if we got inside his head.  But I wouldn't mind knowing just a little more about him.

Overall, a really fun and entertaining read.  I am very happy to have given this series a go, and look forward to the many stories awaiting me.

22 comments:

  1. I do not even know if I have even seen the tv-series..ok bits and pieces but an entire ep..dunno

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  2. It makes me sad that two books into the series I'm yet to REALLY love Jeeves. But I want to keep trying. Considering all the other things that I like, it just doesn't make sense that I wouldn't love Wodehouse.

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  3. It's been ages since I read a Jeeves and Wooster, but I do enjoy them (and I'm a tough customer with comic novels). The series with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry is absolutely wonderful!

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  4. I've never read any Wodehouse (GASP!) so it's good to know that this is a series I should pick up.

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  5. I am curious about this series, so I will probably read at least the first book eventually. :)

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  6. I've had the same reaction as Ana -- I like the Wodehouse books I've read, but I don't love them. At least, the Jeeves ones. I like Psmith much better. Psmith regularly makes me laugh out loud.

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  7. I love the Wodehouse books, and read this one a few years ago. You are right that it was very funny, and just reading your quote about the rubber duck makes me want to read it again. I also really like the short stories, and think that you will like them as well. I still have one collection of Jeeves and Wooster stories that I haven't read yet. I am so glad that you found these books and that you had fun with this one!

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  8. I haven't read any Wodehouse books yet, but my partner owns a couple, so I've added one to my TBR shelf to try.

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  9. I recently read Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome and I agree - it is so much like the style of Jeeves and Wooster!

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  10. what o I love Jeeves and wooster ,been years since I read him thou got a collection of his golf stories recently must read it soon,I love the tv series when it was on well still it is repeated a lot over here ,all the best stu

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  11. I have been meaning to read a P.G. Wodehouse book for years and just never got to one. Maybe this is good one to start with

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  12. I loved this one too. And scared a guy in a park in Rome by suddenly howling with laughter. Have you tried any of the Psmith books, they're great too. I agree with you about the short stories - although I think I got on with them better than you, they are nowhere near as good as the novels. What ho!

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  13. I haven't read any Jeeves and Wooster yet and have been wondering where to begin. It sounds like this would be a good one to start with. And I loved Three Men in a Boat so I'm pleased to hear the narrative style is similar!

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  14. Blodeuedd - I've not seen the tv series, either, but still enjoyed the book.

    Nymeth - Isn't it interesting how that happens? I always wonder why some books I fall in love with, and yet other ones I would expect to love, I don't.

    Teresa - I really need to see this series! Wonder if it's on instant somewhere...

    Swapna - Well, I have a feeling you'd love the covers, so maybe THAT can motivate you, too!

    Kailana - Haha, that is the most hedged sentence I've read in a long time. "Probably" "at least" "first" and eventually" all together!

    Jenny - I have not given Psmith a try yet, but I Pshall.

    Zibilee - I didn't love the first Wodehouse short stories I tried, but maybe I should make another effort if they're good!

    Tracy - Let me know what you think!

    Girlwannaread - Yes, so similar! I wonder if the two were friends. Not sure if they were even contemporaries, but I think they'd get along famously.

    winstonsdad - I MUST watch this series!!

    bookmagic - It's the first full-length novel, so definitely a good one to start with!

    book-hound - I can imagine that! No, I haven't tried the Psmith books, but I shall.

    Helen - Yes, I think if you enjoyed that one, you will enjoy this one.

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  15. I'm always looking for light funny books and have been curious about Jeeves. Judging by how many bloggers like Wodehouse, I guess it's time to give him a shot!

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  16. I am by no means a Jeeves & Wooster expert, but my limited experience has taught me that some of their exploits are certainly funnier and stronger than others. I find that I do better with them if I space them out because they do tend to be rather similar in their madcap antics and can blend together after a while. I highly recommend Jeeves in the Morning (or Joy in the Morning as it is sometimes called): it is the first J&W novel I read and it remains my favorite! Loved it!

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  17. I heard about Jeeves and now I think I must get acquainted with him as well! Great review - thanks!

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  18. I'ver red at least one of the series and thought it was pretty amusing - but haven't read the rest of them (probably because they really should be read in small doses). I do have to say I read Three Men in a Boat and thought it was fabulous.

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  19. I listened to The Inimitable Jeeves on audiobook and it was hilarious. Also in that one, Bertie (with considerable help from Jeeves) is able to give Aunt Agatha a little comeuppance, so you may find that satisfying.

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  20. The Jeeves books never fail to make me laugh. I will say they are particularly fun on audio too.

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  21. I also really like the Castle Blandings books so do give them a try at some point. And I second the tv series of Jeeves and Wooster with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. Hilarious and the period detail is wonderful.

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  22. Man, I'm catching up on a backlog of posts, and everything you're reading has gotten me commenting!

    I've been wanting to read Wodehouse for a while but I never knew where to start! It's hard to figure out what's the first story in the series!

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