July 2nd, 2013

Me 2012

The Inimitable Jeeves, by P.G.Wodehouse

the_gneech has been recommending the Jeeves books for basically forever, and a month or two ago jorrocks_j reminded me they existed and I decided to put a couple of the early ones on reserve.

I'm not sure if this was actually the first one or not, and pretty sure it doesn't matter. It's a collection of short stories with various recurring characters, and occasionally touching on events of previous stories. The narrator, Bertie Wooster, has a primary ambition of "being left alone" and spends most of the narratives letting various relations and hangers-on pushing him around. His valet, Jeeves, alternates between fishing Wooster and his associates out of scrapes and letting them stew in their own mess. The whole is played for comic effect.

The stories vary between "funny" and "cringe-inducing"; my biggest problem was that I found it hard to like any of the characters. Wooster is a spineless fop and his relations/friends are irritating bullies. Even Jeeves comes across as self-interested, with an agenda he often conceals from Wooster and which allows Jeeves to come out on top even when the 'help' he has offered to Wooster et al fails to be useful to them. They are by no means monsters or horrible people, but qualities to really like are few. At best, one identifies with Wooster's desire to be left in peace and not have to deal with these nuisances.

Having read some of the Wodehouse stories, I can see how the_gneech's "Brigid and Greg" vignettes were influenced by them. This is probably blasphemy, but I like Brigid and Greg better. c_c

I feel bad rating a classic so low, but I'm giving this a 6. I may read some more anyway: the stories grew on me as it got later in the book, so perhaps it's an acquired taste.