Review Fridays: The Code of the Woosters

I reached out a hand from under the blankets, and rang the bell for Jeeves.

“Good evening, Jeeves.”

“Good morning, sir.”

This surprised me.

-Opening lines of The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

Bertie Wooster has got himself into another jam, this time involving a silver cow-shaped creamer, a leather-bound notebook, and the possible toll of matrimony. Externally, Madeline Bassett seems like a good match, but the woman is distinctly dotty. While Bertie “won’t go so far as to say that she actually wrote poetry,” she thinks that “stars are God’s daisy chain.”

Madeline has got the wrong idea about Bertie. She thinks that he is madly in love with her and wants to marry her. And so Bertie has to make sure that Madeline marries his newt-obsessed friend, Gussie Fink-Nottle (the names are all this fun), or else Bertie, too chivalrous to correct her, would have to marry Madeline himself. He also has to steal a silver cow-creamer for his Aunt Dahlia and find Gussie’s burn book before Madeline’s father does.

Luckily, Bertie has his valet Jeeves on his side. In The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse, Bertie will once again be relying on Jeeves to get him out of a mess. Jeeves is Bertie’s infinitely reliable and intelligent foil, the one who instinctively knows how to solve each problem and does so with grace and discretion.

I love this series, but if you’ve read one Jeeves and Wooster book, you pretty much know the structure for the other books. That does not take away the pleasure of reading them. They can be read in any order, although the plots of previous books are usually summarized at the beginning of the next, letting you hop in at any point in the series, but giving away the plot if you want to work backwards.

No matter which you pick up, all of the Jeeves and Wooster books are riotously funny. In my opinion, the funniest scene in all of English literature is in Right Ho, Jeeves when Gussie Fink-Nottle, “full to the back teeth with the right stuff” (e.g. very drunk), presents the prizes at Market Snodsbury Grammar School. Wodehouse has a way with words, telling the stories from the point-of-view of the ditzy but ultimately lovable Bertie.

The only danger with these books is that you might find yourself laughing out loud in public places while you are reading, on the bus, in the library, on a park bench. The books are that funny, and so I highly recommend them to anyone who loves a book with a good sense of humor.

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