Monday, June 18, 2018

Singing the Praises of Jeeves

Jeeves & the Song of SongsJeeves & the Song of Songs by P.G. Wodehouse
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's deja vu all over again!

Once I got going I soon realized I'd read this before. Not specifically this book, but the stories within it. You see, Jeeves & the Song of Songs is also "Jeeves & the Song of Songs", which is to say it is the title of a book and the title of a story. In the case of this book, it is the titular story, and it kicks off a bevy of solid stories in the Jeeves & Wooster line.

"Jeeves & the Song of Songs" - Bertie Wooster is embroiled in an old chum's romance. Too much of the same song proves its undoing, perhaps for the best. This little number is a classic and was included in the Hugh Laurie/Stephen Fry tv version of Jeeves & Wooster.

"Indian Summer of an Uncle" - One of Bertie's uncles is about to make an ass of himself matrimonially speaking and Bertie's been tasked with putting an end to it. This is one time where Wodehouse treads a bit rough on class distinction. Irregardless, it's not one of his best.

"Jeeves and the Kid Clementina" - Bertie has a thing for Bobbie Wickham and tries to do a good deed for her at a girls' prep school. Doing good deeds for others never does Bertie any good. Things fall apart, as per usual. This is Wodehouse in classic form and this story sets the parameters used in a number of his full-length books.

"The Inferiority Complex of Old Sippy" - An old pal has no backbone, so Bertie hatches up a scheme to get him his just desserts. Bertie ought to know by now that it's best to let Jeeves come up with the schemes, but alas, all goes amiss and Jeeves must tidy it up in the end. I think this might be the only story in this collection which I hadn't read before. It's not bad!

"Jeeves and the Impending Doom" - One of Bertie awful aunts is covertly trying to hook him up with a job he doesn't want when she invites him over to the house. A friend of Bertie's is trying to keep a job with Bertie's aunt that he doesn't like but needs, and Bertie must help him keep it by keeping safe the unpleasant blighter who the aunt is trying to secure Bertie's job with. Make sense? No? Welcome to the world of Wodehouse!

"Jeeves and the Yuletide Spirit" - Jeeves is looking forward to a trip to Monte Carlo. Bertie is thinking about marriage to that Bobbie Wickham gal. Jeeves realizes how unsuitable the match would be well before Bertie figures it out, and goes to great lengths to make his master see the light. Jeeves inevitably saves the day in all these stories, but seldom does he long for anything more than for Bertie to dress more conservatively. It's nice to see a little personal desire out of the man.

All in all, Jeeves & the Song of Songs puts together a very solid collection of Wodehouse shorts. I'm a big Jeeves & Wooster fan, so I didn't mind the reread and was happy to find at least one new one herein. This would make a good primer for the newcomer!

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A Letdown at Blandings

A Pelican at Blandings (Blandings Castle, #11)A Pelican at Blandings by P.G. Wodehouse
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A Pelican at Blandings, the 11th book in the Blandings Castle series, was a big disappointment for me. I always expect P.G. Wodehouse to buck me up with his humor, but this one lacked the funny.

It's typically Wodehousian in its convoluted plot, but the writing feels dull. I have a tendency to blame the author's mounting years, after all he was about 88 when he wrote this, however he did go on to write another half dozen or so novels, and the one or two I've read were much better than this.

No, the problem is that this feels more like one of his early works where romance tended to trump comedy. The plot is fine, but the comedic edge is missing. There's too much exposition all together, but also redundant explanations, especially in the dialogue, which in other books Wodehouse was smart to gloss over. Sure it's important to keep your readers abreast of the action, but at some point you need to be aware not to beat them over the head with it.

Ah well, I still have about 40 or 50 more Wodehouses to read. I'm sure I'll better another good one in there somewhere!

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