Much Obliged, Jeeves: A review

I’ve managed to finish two books in the last couple of days, including Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (which I will review doubled up with Mockingjay a bit later on, for various reasons), and just today, Much Obliged, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse. Having discussed Wodehouse before but never reviewing one of his books on its own, I thought, well, why not do it now?

It is tricky to review any Wodehouse book, to be honest. As Stephen Fry puts it, on the cover of this book, “You don’t analyse such sunlit perfection, you just bask in its warmth and splendour.” I must confess, I tend to agree with Fry on this one – there is something about the way Wodehouse writes which resists any analysis and critique, and I suspect he is one of the only writers in the history of writing in the English language who has managed to achieve this.

Much Obliged, Jeeves is part of the ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ series of novels, and compared with those which I have read so far, the story in this one stood out particularly as being a little more unique, while reprising many beloved characters and places from previous stories. Set in a place known as Market Snodsbury, the story centres around a chaotic local election between Bertie Wooster’s friend Ginger, and the rather firm and powerful Mrs McCorkadale. In the mix of all this are numerous engagements (with varying degrees of amiability between the couples), Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia, where everybody is staying, and who is trying to extort a large amount of money from the grumpy old Runkle by softening him up with her chef Anatole’s amazing cooking, and a book known as the Book of Revelations – a book shared among butlers which contains all of the deeds and misdeeds, routines and bad habits of their employers. When the book suddenly disappears, the dignity and respect of several people becomes jeopardised, including those involved in the election.

The story is great, and leaves you guessing right up until the last few pages how it will ever be resolved, and as always the resolution is startling in its simplicity and genius. If I were to critique one aspect of this novel, it is that the wit doesn’t seem as sharp as it has in other Wodehouse books I have read – however, this is only comparing it to other Wodehouse books, as on its own against most literature this novel is still highly witty and hilarious. And considering this book was first published in 1971, when Wodehouse would have been in his late eighties, it goes to show that even old age bore no real threat to his intelligence, charm and general verbosity.

I wouldn’t recommend Much Obliged, Jeeves as a first Wodehouse novel for those yet to read him, as it mentions far too many events and characters who have no meaning unless you have read his earlier works (I always suggest to start with Thank You, Jeeves), but for those more seasoned readers of this series (by which I mean you have read at least three or four), there is plenty of fun to be had between the covers of this book. For those interested, I rated this four out of five on GoodReads (and gave a considerably shorter review on there similar to this one).

Lastly, I have to share my favourite line from the book: “Where one goes wrong in looking for the ideal girl is in making one’s selection before walking the full length of the counter.”

What books have you finished recently?

Have you read any Wodehouse novels in recent times (especially as I keep bringing him up)?

23 thoughts on “Much Obliged, Jeeves: A review

    • His writing style is amazing, and inimitable, that’s for sure. I love how you can see his influence on Fry in Fry’s own writing, too. I agree, Fry and Laurie are the perfect fit for Jeeves and Wooster (it’s Laurie’s voice I hear narrating those books now). 🙂

  1. The name of the town, Market Snodsbury, cracks me up! I know you have mentioned Wodehouse before so I am ashamed to say I haven’t picked up a copy of any of his books, yet. I did put this one on my To-Be-Read list, but I will take your advice and pick up ‘Thank You, Jeeves’ first. (I actually have a real list now, not a running one in my head because my memory isn’t what it once was!) 🙂

    • Hahaha, the Wodehouse books do have some great names for people and places (one of the recurring characters, by memory, is called Gussie Finknottle). I think if I remember correctly Thank You, Jeeves is the first Jeeves and Wooster novel, so it is at the beginning of all their various adventures, too. I started with that one but by complete accident, but it worked out well in the long term.
      I know what you mean with the TBR list too, mine is long and written down. Mine is sadly several hundred books long 😛

  2. I haven’t read Wodehouse yet, although I was a fan of the Jeeves and Wooster TV series. And I just finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy, so I look forward to reading your review! Right now I’m actually reading the Superman Returns comic. Not a book–except lengthwise it’s pretty close–but some of these comics have enough writing to rival some novellas I’ve read!

    • Ah, if you liked the TV series you’ll like the books – many of the TV episodes adapted their storylines from those of some of the novels.
      So what were your thoughts on the Hunger Games trilogy – were you happy with the ending? I am curious to see how it ends, I must admit.
      I haven’t read a comic in ages! I used to read them all the time, them and graphic novels…I should get back into them one day soon! 🙂

  3. Where to start reading Wodehouse (I’ll certainly check out “Thank You, Jeeves”) is a tricky question, but maybe even trickier is where to finish: the guy wrote almost a hundred novels and stories in his lifetime!

    • I know, it’s kind of mind boggling to think that he wrote that much. I also love the way he wrote – apparently he would put all the pages he typed up around his room, on the walls, and the pages that he was happy with he would place higher, while those he felt needed some work, he would place lower on the wall. So he would quite literally surround himself with his stories while writing them…it’s no wonder he could write them at such a fast rate and keep the quality up.
      But, I have heard of people who have read every single one of his books (Stephen Fry read every single one in his youth, which probably helped when he came to acting as Jeeves for the TV show), and I think I intend to just read the whole lot, too. His novels are only 200-300 pages usually too…so it’s not like trying to read Stephen King’s entire catalogue, if you count by the page and not the book.

    • Ahhh awesome, that’s the book I started off with, and the first one in the series, so definitely a good place to start (the books don’t really require to be read in order, though). I enjoyed that one, personally. 🙂

    • Ah really? You should try one, they’re awfully good! I’m yet to meet a person who read one and didn’t really like it, though having said that I am sure they’re not everyone’s cup of tea.
      I am curious to see what I think of the final HG book as well. Probably will be blogging about that this weekend, I suspect…

  4. Wodehouse!! There is no one quite like him! I remember when I picked up my first Wodehouse as a child, I was warned that not everybody gets Wodehouse’s humour. And in the years since I’ve seen it’s true. But not to me! I just don’t get how he can possibly be that funny! The man’s an institution unto himself.

    • I know what you mean – it is a very certain kind of humour, and I think most people do get his humour, but I can see why some people wouldn’t. But for me personally I think he is hilarious, and a genius – as you say an institution unto himself! Glad to find another Wodehouse fan, as always! 😀

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