Twentieth Century Books

Carry On, Jeeves

I’ve heard many wonderful things about PG Wodehouse’s creation over the years, but I neither read the books nor saw the Laurie and Fry adaptations.

I still haven’t seen the series, but I have now read the first book. And I fully concur with the glowing reviews. There’s a lightness to Wodehouse’s writing; it’s easy to read and laced with wit.

I like the way Bertie Wooster talks and the quiet, assured omniscience of Jeeves. I like the way that it’s a series of short stories, rather than a single novel – I get the feeling that poor old Bertie would struggle with a novel, and his brains would explode. Jeeves, on the other, could probably manage, but he’s got enough to do with keeping Bertie in order. And away from the dubious fashions which catch his eye.

Bertie Wooster amused me; he’s a wonderfully dim but charming character who talks like a stereotype of a between-war aristocrat, what what. I’ve read other books with such characters (Simon Brett’s Blotto and Twinks spring to mind), but Bertie is actually believable. I took to him far more easily than Blotto and Twinks. I suspect this is because PG Wodehouse inhabited Bertie’s world himself.

And Jeeves is just the perfect, discreet man-servant. Like Peter Wimsey’s Bunter, although I get the feeling that Jeeves might not be as handy with the finger-print dust or the photography chemicals. He probably knows someone, though.

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