Publisher: Arrow Books (Random House)
Pages: 290 (Paperback)
Series: Jeeves and Wooster #5
Gussie Fink-Nottle’s knowledge of the common newt is unparalleled. Drop him in a pond of newts and his behaviour will be exemplary, but introduce him to a girl and watch him turn pink, yammer, and suddenly stampede for the wide open spaces. Even with Madeline Bassett, who feels that the stars are god’s daisy chain, his tongue is tied in reef-knots. And his chum Tuppy Glossop isn’t getting on much better with Madeline’s delectable friend Angela.
With so many broken hearts lying about him, Bertie Wooster can’t sit idly by. The happiness of a pal – two pals, in fact – is at stake. But somehow Bertie’s best-laid plans land everyone in the soup, and so it’s just as well that Jeeves is ever at hand to apply his bulging brains to the problems of young love.
To be honest this felt like more of a 3.5 read to me but that’s not because it’s a bad book. In fact it’s as good as, if not better than, the last Jeeves book I reviewed and gave 5 stars to – it’s certainly far less problematic and offensive. What made this book less enjoyable for me was simply that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to pick it up in the first place. There’s been a lot of unpleasant stuff going on recently and I though I needed something lighthearted to cheer me up – and it worked, to a certain extent, but it wasn’t particularly conductive to getting the maximum enjoyment from these books. Next time I will remember my own theory – Jeeves works best when accompanied by a jug of Pimms, lying out on the lawn on a sunny day. Reading it crammed in the back of a car, with torrential rain pouring down outside just isn’t the same. Nevertheless I’ll try to go over the key points.
Right Ho, Jeeves is the second full length novel in the series, and far less episodic than its predecessor. It’s also a bit more understated, going back more to the short story roots of social misunderstandings rather than the occasionally whacky hijinks of Thank You, Jeeves which saw Bertie dealing with a violent drunk, a pair of overzealous policeman, and blacking-up to escape a crazy American. By contrast Right Ho, Jeeves is positively sedate. Gussie Fink-Nottle is in love with Madeline Bassett (who believes that ‘every time a fairy sheds a tear, a wee bit star is born in the Milky Way‘) but too painfully shy to say anything, while Tuppy Glossop has just had his engagement to Bertie’s cousin Angela called off for daring to suggest that the shark that attacked her on holiday was probably just a flatfish, Bertie’s aunt is looking for a tactful way to inform her spendthrift husband that she lost the money he leant her for her ladies magazine on gambling – and it’s all one big situation that practically screams for Jeeves. Unfortunately, Bertie and Jeeves are at loggerheads over one of Bertie’s faddish pieces of clothing, so Bertie decides to solve this one alone.
What follows is, predictably, a mess of miscommunication and misunderstanding until the situation is a million times worse than how it started. At which point of course Jeeves swans in, does his thing, and solves it in approximately five minutes. There are some absolutely wonderful bits in this book – the prize giving at the local boys school is hilarious and Auntie Agatha’s description of Bertie ‘To look at you, one would think you were just an ordinary sort of amiable idiot – certifiable, perhaps, but quite harmless. Yet in reality, you are a worse scourge than the Black Death’ had me snickering to myself. Overall, however, I just wasn’t in the right mood to enjoy the book fully. It felt a bit too similar to the short stories, but lacking a lot of the Bertie-Jeeves banter that I so enjoy, and the sollution…well it feels a bit like a magical fix really.
I still enjoyed it, and I still love Bertie – I mean how can you not love a man who gets so much joy from playing with a rubber duck? I’ll still continue to read the rest of the books, but I’ll make sure that it’s a nice sunny day and that I’m in the right mood to appreciate them before I pick one up again.