This is the 8th Jeeves and Wooster novel I’ve read. I confess that all the stories seem the same to me. However, I don’t read these books for the plots (which are deliberately silly) but for the larger-than-life characters and the amusing narration of the gullible Bertie Wooster, whose intellectually superior valet, Jeeves, always saves the day.
Much Obliged, Jeeves is a late addition to the series, being published in 1971 on Wodehouse’s 90th birthday. The story involves a book belonging to Jeeves’ club, in which all the members write down dodgy details of their employers. Inevitably this book is stolen and could cause all kinds of uproar if the contents were made public. At the same time, Bertie is persuaded to help out a friend, Ginger Winship, who is reluctantly standing for election at Market Snodsbury. By coincidence this is where Bertie’s booming Aunt Dahlia lives, so he goes to stay. Unfortunately one of his enemies, the thuggish Spode, is there, plus Madeline Bassett (a soppy woman who is convinced that Bertie is in love with her). There’s also a grumpy but very wealthy man, L P Runkle, whom Aunt Dahlia is hoping will finance the wedding of Bertie’s friend and her future son-in-law, Tuppy Glossop. All kinds of chaos happens but you know that even from page one, Jeeves will sort the mess out.
I enjoyed this novel more than some of the others in the series. The style and formula have become so familiar that the repetition of these is humorous in itself. Also, it’s comforting to return to a familiar world, in which the same characters are insulting each other, doing ridiculous things for love (or to get away from it) and landing into scrapes. My favourite character this time was Augustus the cat, but I’m also a Wooster fan. He may be an idle bachelor but he does have morals. Underneath his cheerful bluster, he’s anxious to avoid confrontation and will hide or run if possible because he wants a quiet life. I think he’d be an annoying narrator if the books were longer than c.200 pages, but each novel is short enough that I’m fond of him. I enjoy the power struggle between him and Jeeves.
Recommended if you’ve already read a few Jeeves and Wooster books.