This is the first collection of short stories featuring the wonderful creations of P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves and Wooster. Out of the eight stories in this book, 4 are about Bertie Wooster and his scrapes, guises and friends who pop in and out of his life causing mayhem and madness in equal forms. In steps Jeeves, or materialise as Bertie Wooster is convinced he does “Jeeves had projected himself in from the dining room and materialised on the rug.”
Jeeves is the sort of chap who one can rely on, to get you and others out of scrapes. It is Jeeves in my opinion that make me chuckle with laughter at P.G. Wodehouse stories. Jeeves is a phenomenon and in these four stories has never failed even when faced with adversity, “That’s the sort of chap he is. You can’t rattle him”, “Lady Malvern tried to freeze him with a look, but you can’t do that sort of thing to Jeeves. He is look-proof”.
These 4 stories are later reworked in subsequent Jeeves books, but for a beginner to Wodehouse then they are the perfect start to a wonderful collection. I recommend it on this basis alone.
The other 4 stories are with the character Reggie Pepper, who is in some ways a poor creation to Bertie Wooster, he just does not have that “what-ho”ness foppish foolishness that Bertie has which seems to jump off the page. The story lines are used for subsequent Jeeves and Wooster stories, but there is some humour in them and if only to make a comparison then they are worth a read. Short and to the point, you have an inkling where they are going to end but it is quite fun seeing how it all comes together or falls apart for Reggie and those he comes into contact with.
I do love Jeeves and Wooster and came to these books after the television series (more about that in another post I think). I read quite a few books in my late teens, early twenties and had a fair collection of them. But I gave them away, having now re-looked and some of the lovely covers of the books, I wish I had not and I had kept them, because they are such joyous reading to go back to and revisit. I think I might have to start a collection of them again.
I had not read this book before though, although I recognise the story lines of Jeeves and Wooster and even remember the episodes of the TV programme as well. But they were like walking back indoors to have Jeeves greet you with a cup of tea, and a “very good, sir”. The short stories if you are interested are
- Leave it to Jeeves
- Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest
- Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg
- The Aunt and the Sluggard
Reggie Pepper was certainly a new character to me, and it was only by doing a bit of digging around on the internet that I discovered he was a forerunner for Bertie Wooster. The stories are titled as follows:
- Absent Treatment
- Helping Freddie (Jeeves version called Fixing it for Freddie)
- Rallying Round Old George (rewritten as the Mulliner Story)
- Doing Clarence a Bit of Good (Jeeves version called Jeeves makes an Omelette)
These stories as I say in my review are funny, but not quite up there, and were obviously Wodehouse’s way of testing out not just characters but the plots and the culmination of it all. To me they were a bit of research reading before you got stuck into the really good stuff that was going to help in so many ways.
I am going to carry on with some more Wodehouse, and will certainly enjoy reading the Jeeves and Wooster versions of the Reggie Pepper ones!