Years ago I was a Jeeves and Wooster fan and read as many of these books by P G Wodehouse that I could find in my local library. I also liked the excellent TV version with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. So when my book group decided our next book would be any Wodehouse book I was quite pleased. I’d read the first Blandings Castle book, Something Fresh a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. I don’t own any Wodehouse books so went to the library to see what was on the shelves. I came home with Summer Moonshine, first published in 1938, Jeeves in the Offing, published in 1960 and Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, first published in 1963.
So far I’ve read Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, which I finished this morning. Bertie Wooster goes to Totleigh Towers, the home of Sir Watkyn Bassett and his daughter Madeline, who is engaged to Gussie Fink-Nottle, but under the impression that Bertie is desperately in love with her – which he isn’t, of course. When Madeline insists that Gussie becomes a vegetarian he rebels and now no longer wants to marry her. Bertie is horrified as that will mean that Madeline will turn to him. He hot foots it to Totleigh Towers, despite her father’s intense dislike of him to bring about a reconciliation.
Thank goodness for Jeeves, who accompanies Bertie and helps him out of seemingly impossible situations. The events all conspire against Bertie who prides himself on his ‘stiff upper lip’:
It’s pretty generally recognised at the Drones Club and elsewhere that Bertram Wooster is a man who knows how to keep the chin up and the upper lip stiff, no matter how rough the going may be. Beneath the bludgeonings of Fate, his head is bloody and unbowed, as the fellow said. In a word, he can take it.
But I must admit that as I crouched in my haven of refuge I found myself chafing not a little. Life at Totleigh Towers, as I mentioned earlier, had got me down. There seemed no way of staying put in the darned house. One was either soaring like an eagle on to the top of chests or whizzing down behind sofas like a diving duck, and apart from the hustle and bustle of it all that sort of thing wounds the spirit and does no good to the trouser crease. And so, as I say, I chafed. (page 152)
It’s a very easy book to read, and the slang is interspersed with many literary and Biblical references, which I enjoyed, but I didn’t find it as riveting or as funny as I thought it would be – as the Jeeves books were in my memory. I suppose the farcical nature of it all eventually wormed its way into my subconscious and by the end of the book I found myself warming to it more than at the beginning and looking forward to reading the other two books.