Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse 1934

When P. G. Wodehouse’s comic novel ‘The Mating Season’ turned up on Susan Hill’s Final Forty (those 40 books this British author and critic would be limited to on a desert island), I read it in 2020 and thoroughly enjoyed it. So, here in England, what better way to pass some enjoyable hours than with another book featuring that fumbling, bumbling British aristocrat Bertie Wooster and his valet, Jeeves.

I found this volume in a rare book shop near Soho Square, on a wall of Penguin Books, their orange and white spines calling out to me from across the room.  Among the various Wodehouse volumes, I chose this one for unclear reasons, but grateful that I did for it afforded me several hours of smiles, chuckles, and outright laughter.

The plot is right out of Monty Python with funnier names.  The basic story is that Bertie Wooster is called to his Aunt Dahlia’s  estate because her daughter, Agatha, has broken her engagement with Tuppy Glossop, an old school and club chum of Bertie’s, despite Tuppy having dropped Bertie into a swimming pool at Pongo Twistleton’s birthday party.  Simultaenously, Bertie has been pressed by Augustus Fink-Nottle, another old school friend, to help him in his suit for Margaret Basset who has also repaired to Aunt Dahlia’s country home.  Whilst trying to repair these two love arrangements, Wooster is asked to give the prizes at the Market Snodsbury Grammar School where Aunt a is Dahlia is chair of the board. Wooster cleverly sticks this task on Fink-Nottle who becomes drunk and holds forth in a most arresting manner at the prize exercises.

The whole matter is ridiculously funny and kept me entertained for hours.  Loved it!  If you don’t know Wodehouse, Bertie, and Jeeves, rush out and read one, any one.

Wodehouse, who spent his last 20 years in America before dying at 93 in 1975 on Long Island, is a fascinating character himself.  A top flight writer, playwright, and lyricist, he alienated much of his British support by making a radio broadcast from Nazi Germany during WWII where he had been interned after being arrested in France.  He was finally forgiven and knighted in 1975 and has a memorial stone in Westminster.  His obituarist in the London Times wrote, “Wodehouse was a comic genius recognized in his lifetime as a classic and an old master of farce”.