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The Return of Jeeves

(This story is included in a single-bound collection of five Wodehouse novels, so I don’t have a picture of it to share!)

by: P.G. Wodehouse

Published 1953

I had never before read this particular Wodehouse novel, and when I started it, I realized that Wodehouse had done the unthinkable:  He separate Bertie from Jeeves.  For the entire book.  I kid you not.

The story opens with Jeeves serving as a butler at Towcester Abbey, the ancestral home of William Egerton Osingham belfry, ninth Earl of Towcester, more commonly known as Bill.  I was quite distressed until Jeeves explained where Bertie had got to:

“My relations with Mr. Wooster continue uniformly cordial, but circumstances have compelled a temporary separation.  Mr. Wooster is attending a school which does not permit its student body to employ gentlemen’s personal gentlemen.”

“A school?”

“An institution designed to teach the aristocracy to fend for itself, m’lord.  Mr. Wooster, though his finances are still quite sound, feels that it is prudent to build for the future, in case the social revolution should set in with even greater severity.  Mr. Wooster – I can hardly mention this without some display of emotion – is actually learning to darn his own socks.  The course he is taking includes boot-cleaning, sock-darning, bed-making and primary-grade cooking.”

The story moves along with the usual Wodehouseian methods, and classic descriptions such as

It was one of those lovely nights which occur from time to time in an English June, mitigating the rigors of the island summer and causing manufacturers of raincoats and umbrellas to wonder uneasily if they have been mistaken in supposing England to be an earthly Paradise for men of their profession.

Still, though, it’s like chocolate without peanut butter.  It’s good, it’s fun, but you know it could be better.  My favorite part of the Jeeves stories is actually Bertie’s narration, and I missed it a great deal during this story.  It was a fun time, but I really felt as though the story could have been told without Jeeves, especially as some of his actions seemed out of character (dressing up in a ridiculously garish disguise to help Bill be a bookie?  What?!), so this Wodehouse garnishes a 3/5.

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5 thoughts on “The Return of Jeeves

    • I know!!! I forget where I read that while Jeeves is a “type,” Bertie is a true character. This book really illustrated that. Jeeves just seemed so flat without Bertie, and some of the narration phrasing seemed strange when written in the third person instead of the first. Saying that Jeeves “shimmered” into a room somehow feels more natural when Bertie is saying it instead of Wodehouse, if that makes sense. Anyway, it seemed as though this story would have been funnier without Jeeves. Ah well, I suppose not EVERY SINGLE ONE of his books could be perfection! :-D

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      • I love the Jeeves books as you know, but I must admit I never enjoyed any of his other stuff quite as much – the Blandings books or Psmith. He found magic in Bertie and none of his other characters quite reached the same heights (for me). But hey! At least he gave us lots of Bertie and they’re the kind of books you can read again and again…

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      • haha, oh I have to say that I love many of the Blandings Castle books, and “Psmith, Journalist” is one of my favorites (although Mom, who loves Wodehouse, can’t stand Psmith!) And “Money for Nothing,” one of his “random” novels, is one of those books where I can’t stop laughing. Still, for overall consistency, Bertie and Jeeves are a hard combination to beat!

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  1. Pingback: P.G. Wodehouse – A Life in Letters // edited by Sophie Ratcliffe | The Aroma of Books

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