THANK YOU, JEEVES BY PG WODEHOUSE, Herbert Jenkins, 1934 –
Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves are ranked among the great comic duos in English literature. P.G. Wodehouse wrote thirty-five short stories and eleven novels featuring the two, beginning in 1917 with the short story ‘Extricating Young Gussie’ and finishing in 1974 with the novel ‘Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen’. Today, there are many who know the pair from the Masterpiece Theatre television series adaptions starring Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster and Stephen Fry as the inimitable Jeeves.
‘Thank You, Jeeves’ is vintage Wodehouse with a story that begins with Jeeves leaving Wooster’s employment over Bertie’s obsession with the banjo (or banjolele as he calls it). Bertie has just returned from America after a near miss at matrimony to financier J. Washburn Stoker’s daughter Pauline. It seems Stoker had a word placed in his ear by his friend Sir Roderick Glossop, renowned London psychiatrist who intimated that Bertie was seriously addled – an attitude no doubt influenced by an earlier failed romance between Bertie and Sir Roderick’s daughter. On Sir Roderick’s advice, Stoker put an end to the engagement and Bertie sailed back to London, only to find that the Stokers had arrived in town. Bertie flees to the safety of the countryside, in this case the estate of his old friend and schoolmate, Lord Chuffnel (Chuffy). Chuffy, an aristocrat of limited means, falls in love with Pauline but won’t ask her to marry until his finances are stable. His hopes are raised when he finds that Stoker wants to buy his manor house and give it to his friend Sir Roderick to use as a hospital for his mental patients.
An obnoxious ten year old gangster, a dragon aunt, miscommunication, deals that fall through, harsh words between lovers, kidnapping on a yacht, a drunken valet with bloodthirsty tendencies, a black musical troupe of banjo players, arson, blackened faces looking for butter and the long arm of the constabulary all conspire to ruin Chuffy’s dreams of true love and place the hapless Bertie in all sorts of harm’s way. A happy resolution will require Jeeves to put all his considerable skills to work in order to pull this rabbit out of a hat.
Aside from the original 1934 references to the ‘N’ word for the black musicians (and how jarring it looks in 2022!) the Jeeves and Wooster series is still fresh and funny.
TL:DR – Jeeves and Wooster – what more could you want?