4.12.12

'The Inimitable Jeeves' by P.G. Wodehouse

Being in the midst of a readathon as I am, I picked The Inimitable Jeeves off the bookshelf for the perhaps-not-so-flattering reason that I knew I could skim through it quickly, therefore not interrupting my scheduled readathon flow. We have ten Jeeves & Wooster books in the house, all lined up on the shelf, a rainbow of colour, because I bought a collection for my husband for his last birthday: he loves P.G. Wodehouse and the abundance of sets available makes it feel either very silly or just foolhardy to buy them one by one. 

Rather confusingly, this is the first Jeeves & Wooster book listed on the list at the front of the book, but this book does not start at the beginning of the saga, where Jeeves and Wooster meet, as in the TV series; that takes place in another book altogether.

Not that that really matters though. In my mind, Jeeves & Wooster operates as a kind of early version of the American sitcom, with humour and exploits aplenty and a revolving set of regular and occasional guest characters, but you know that they will most likely make up and sort things out by the end of each episode/short story so they can start afresh next time. And the books aren't novels; they're actually just short stories and singular episodes arranged in some kind of order, in a rather arbitrary grouping. Therefore, it doesn't really matter that this is not the 'beginning' because the fact that they've met means they once met for the first time, and when they get to the point of sharing that with you it'll be as equally funny as if you'd started there first. So, good-natured hijinks aplenty, and an inertia worthy of The Simpsons. No wonder it worked so well as an actual sitcom :) I presume the fact that no-one ever ages, makes any major life decisions or dies is probably the reason that I read once that P.G. Wodehouse is the most read author amongst hospital inpatients, assuming as I am that all his books proceed along similar lines. I would tell you about the plot, but really, there's no need.

Also, these books are really, really funny. Totally shallow and full of fops and nincompoops doing silly, non-worthwhile things whilst speaking in cut-glass accents, but sweet and gentle and uniquely hilarious. The ultimate end-of-a-busy-day book, if you will. Bertie is adorably useless, all wide-eyed and Aunt-fearing, hanging out with his similarly foppish friends at their London club, unchanged from the first day at boarding school, and Jeeves is the omnipotent raised eyebrow, overseeing and only occasionally commenting whilst saving the day by exercising his formidable mind. I also sympathise with his hatred of purple socks and scarlet cummerbunds, and all the other garish articles Bertie dons - I raised pointed eyebrows myself at a number of my husband's corduroy shorts and multi-coloured rugby shirts before they quietly left the building. Also, there's a lot of a character called Bingo in this collection, a young chap with rather an excess of romantic feeling, which is nice as he's one of my favourites.

So, rather a muddled review, or not a review at all, as I have little criticism and no plot points to explore. Maybe the one point to take from this is that if you or a friend or relative have been a bit down lately, buy them this for Christmas. It's pretty much
bright sunshine on a page.

Here's
just a little sprinkling:



Title: The Inimitable Jeeves
Author: P. G. Wodehouse
Date: Originally 1923, this edition 2008
Publisher: Arrow
Format: Paperback, 253 pages, with a preview of Piccadilly Jim at the back, and I bought it.

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