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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Book Review: Life With Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

This book took me forever to read. But for the best possible reason. It's such a hilarious laugh-out-loud book, that I put it aside on reserve for times in my life when I was feeling particularly bad, to help cheer me up. And I am happy to say it took me three years to read it! What finally made me finish (and I had only read 1/3 at this point) was wedding planning. That was the most stressful thing to happen to me in the last three years (and three years ago I was laid off!)

These darling stories about the lovable dingbat Bertie Wooster and his long-suffering butler Jeeves are just a delight! Bertie is a wealthy young playboy who both wants to be in love but not tied down, and who is surprisingly doted on by his family and friends, although to be honest most of them come to Bertie as a means to get advice from Jeeves (and a couple do dispense with that pretense altogether.) Bertie often resents their implication that he cannot come up with a good solution to the problem at hand and so he sometimes tries to force the person with the problem to try his idea instead of Jeeves, which never works out. Bertie drinks too much, has a penchant for gaudy clothes that Jeeves resents (and which usually have come to an unpleasant demise by the end of the story), and is a pretty upbeat and positive guy. I'm sure he's be wonderfully fun to have a drink with. But if you're life's gone down the crapper, Jeeves is your man.

Another reason it took me so long to read this is that it's awfully long, being three books compiled into one with a pretty darn small font. Still, when I was reading it, it was a very fast read. The first two books, "The Inimitable Jeeves" and "Very Good, Jeeves" are basically short story collections, although frequently the next story does begin in the last paragraph of the previous one. But the last book, "Right Ho, Jeeves," is a novel. Each chapter does have a new problem, but it is all of one situation, and it lasts so long due to Bertie being annoyed with Jeeves's constant correct advice and refusing to listen to it or let him give it to Bertie's suffering family and friends involved. Only when Bertie has completely mucked everything up and everyone hates him, does he finally let Jeeves step in to save the day.

It is a particularly British sense of humor, so if you are turned off by Monte Python or Fawlty Towers, this book might not be your cup of tea. But if you're even slightly enamored of England and would love a good laugh, you can't go wrong with Bertie and Jeeves.

I have owned this book for so many years, I have no idea how I acquired it. That said, it predates my blog so certainly I did not get it by promising a review.

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