Much Obliged, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Aw, this makes me sad. Much Obliged, Jeeves is one of Wodehouse's last books in the Jeeves & Wooster series and it's just starting to show a some life, after so many books-by-rote.
The usual plot and characters are all in order. Finicky friends and daffy family members all seemingly conspire to thrust Bertie Wooster neck-deep into the soup, then jam him between a rock and a hard place. Hovering about the periphery is the all-knowing, gentleman's gentleman extraordinaire Jeeves, ready to extract his master and set all to rights.
Where this book differs from other Wodehouses is in the little details. Bertie's narration makes it plain that Much Obliged, Jeeves comes later in the Wodehouse oeuvre by referencing past exploits...and I'm not just talking about that scripture prize he won in school or the article he wrote for Milady's Boudoir on "What the well-dressed man is wearing." I'm not even talking about the big reveal that Jeeves actually has a first name. The real difference is in how Jeeves interacts with Wooster. It's not a vast shift to the left, but there is a slight subversion in his tone, a sort of sauciness to his lip service, a kind of sass to his soliloquy. Yes indeed, Jeeves expresses himself here with more than just a raised brow and I found it shocking...SHOCKING I SAY!
Seriously though, it was nice to see an old familiar character being appropriately stretched a bit. After all the patience-straining nonsense Jeeves endures, it seems quite natural for such a clearly superior mind to grow a tad surly over such trying times. I only wish Wodehouse had started this process and expanded upon it years, nay, decades prior.
In summary, Much Obliged, Jeeves is a solid book in the series, but if you're a newcomer, I'd suggest starting somewhere earlier. Perhaps, Right Ho, Jeeves or The Code of the Woosters would be more suitable. These books don't need to be read sequentially, and you'd be fine if you read this one first, but I think the newb would be better severed with a more elementary introduction. Wouldn't want to muddle the grey matter, now would we?
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