Today I’m sharing my mother’s second pick for Karen and Simon’s #1954Club, Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit by P. G. Wodehouse.
As a child, I often heard my sister laugh out loud when reading a Wodehouse. I did try one, but didn’t find it very amusing. It was only as an adult that I learnt to appreciate this master of wit and humour. I’ve chosen this book to fit in with the 1954 theme, though it is not one of my favourites, but it does bring on the chuckles.
One of Wodehouse’s most popular characters is Bertie Wooster, the man about town, impeccably dressed, chivalrous, soft-hearted, especially where his Aunt Dahlia is concerned, a bit dim-witted (popularly referred to as a Guffin, a wet smack, a total loss, etc.), yet ever true to the Code of the Woosters, and most important of all, the employer of that “Super Brain” Jeeves.
As the book opens, Jeeves is on his annual vacation, and Bertie takes advantage of his absence to cultivate a mustache, which Jeeves would undoubtedly frown upon. Unfortunately, the budding growth, likened to a caterpillar by all who see it, appeals strongly to Lady Florence Craye, Bertie’s ex-fiancée, and for that reason arouses the ire of her current fiancé, Stilton Cheesewright, who is also Bertie’s childhood friend. Then, Aunt Dahlia insists that Bertie join her house party at Brinkley Court, to pull her out of a tough spot. As the proprietor of Milady’s Boudoir, a Fashion Weekly, she had pawned her valuable pearl necklace in order to finance her “ewe lamb”, and now stands in danger of being exposed, as her husband has invited an expert to value the piece, not knowing that it was a fake. Among the other guests are Florence Craye and Cheesewright, Mr. Trotter, to whom Aunt Dahlia hopes to sell the Journal and escape her financial difficulties, his wife who wants to lure away Aunt Dahlia’s prized French Chef, and her son, Percy, who is madly in love with Florence.
The merry tangle gets more and more entangled as Florence tires of Cheesewright’s jealousy and comes back to Bertie, much to his dismay, Cheesewright threatens “to break Bertie’s spine in four places”, Aunt Dahlia tries to purloin the fake necklace before the valuer gets hold of it, Mrs. Trotter tries to steal the chef, and to add to the merriment, Wodehouse stirs in a pinch of blackmail, disappearing ladders, and the entrance of another highbrow beauty. Now it is up to Jeeves, the egg-headed fish-eater, to find a solution.
Her review is also on Goodreads here