Right Ho, Jeeves Book Review - Rx: A Good Wheeze!

Here's my book review of Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse. Sometimes my reviews are throwbacks, and these witty stories crave rediscovery - especially since humorous literary fiction seems to be in such short supply these days.

And aside from physical pleasure and booze, laughter is the best medicine!

Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse - Classics to Go ebook (Otbebookpublishing)

Set in the Roaring Twenties, Right Ho, Jeeves (1934) by the British humorist P.G. Wodehouse is a collection of stories about a young wealthy gentleman, Bertie Wooster, and his manservant Jeeves. Bertie is well-meaning, but lazy and not particularly bright. He freely admits Jeeves is the brainy one. Bertie always makes a mess of getting a chum out of romantic or money trouble, and Jeeves always comes up with a some cockeyed scheme that saves the day.

Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE at age 23 (American Legion Weekly, 1904)

Just after World War I, the male population of Europe had been decimated by the war. Bertie’s comic fear of his dowager aunt reflected the reality that much of England’s  private wealth was then in the hands of older women. Young men like him who had been infants during the war were so appalled by the state of the world that they coped by acting like bratty little boys who refused to grow up.

Fry and Laurie as Jeeves and Wooster (Acorn / ITV)

So – avoid responsibility, romantic entanglements, and financial conundrums. Fear marriage and anyone in uniform. Pursue amusement, particularly if a practical joke will end in what Bertie’s chums call a "good wheeze." Fraternize with like-minded adult males who, despite their elevated social standing, aspire to remain boys. Encourage food fights, but only with dinner rolls so as not to create a mess for which responsibility would have to be assumed. Coordinate rugby scrums in the clubroom, but only if fragile crockery has first been cleared. Solving real-world problems (such as romantic entanglements) by way of practical jokes and stratagems might not work but it's always worth a good try.

Niven and Treacher (20th Century Fox)

Our world – like his – is anything but silly these days. But sometimes what Bertie called a “good wheeze” is just the thing to put a chap right.

Also deserving of mention are the screen versions of the Jeeves stories. Here are two of the best: There's the Granada television production Jeeves & Wooster (1990 - 93) with the incomparable comedy team of Stephen Fry (as Jeeves) and Hugh Laurie (as Bertie) when they were much younger and every bit as wacky as their literary counterparts. And before that, a callow David Niven (Bertie) teamed up with the career stuffed-shirt Arthur Treacher (Jeeves) in a movie version of Thank You, Jeeves! (1936). (Boomer-generation TV fans will remember Treacher as Merv Griffin's droll co-host.)

Gerald Everett Jones is the author of another good wheeze, Farnsworth's Revenge (Gabriella Muttone Photography / LaPuerta Books)

Gerald Everett Jones is author of Bonfire of the Vanderbilts and host of the GetPublished! Radio show.

Listen to the podcast of this review:

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