From the Scribd book page:
My Man Jeeves introduced the world to affable, indolent Bertie Wooster and his precise, capable valet, Jeeves. Some of the finest examples of humorous writing found in English literature are woven around the relationship between these two men of very different classes and temperaments. This collection includes “Absent Treatment”, “Helping Freddie,” “Rallying Round Old George,” “Doing Clarence a Bit of Good,” “Fixing it for Freddie,” and “Bertie Changes His Mind.”
Scribd is helping me make my way through all of the Jeeves books, which I am very much excited about. I have listened to more Jeeves in the past few months than I normally do in a year! These really are the perfect books to listen to. They don’t take too much attention to understand what is going on, so I can still spend my time designing, not be distracted from what I’m working on, while still getting what’s happening in the story. Though they do still make me giggle occasionally. (Of course they do – they’re by P.G. Wodehouse. What did you expect?)
I had heard that some of the Jeeves books were actually collections of short stories – My Man Jeeves is one of those books, instead of written all together like a novel. What I didn’t know going into this was that this particular collection is half stories about Jeeves and Wooster, and half about Reggie Pepper, who was apparently the character that eventually morphed into Bertie Wooster.
Wikipedia tells me that the four Reggie stories are “Absent Treatment,” “Helping Freddie,” “Rallying Round Old George,” “Doing Clarence a Bit of Good”; the four Jeeves & Wooster stories are “Leave it to Jeeves” (which was revised for Carry On, Jeeves as “The Artistic Career of Corky”), “Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest,” “Jeeves and Hard-boiled Egg” and “The Aunt and the Sluggard.” As you can see from these titles, they aren’t exactly the same as the titles listed in the Scribd description… All of the Reggie ones are titled the same, but the Jeeves ones aren’t, so there’s that. I’m having a bit of a hard time figuring out which story is which.
Like I said, I didn’t realize that half of these stories weren’t Jeeves stories until the first story about Reggie. It was actually a pleasant surprise to finally read some of these stories – there are only 7 Reggie stories in total, so now I only have to find the other 3. Also, some of these stories had been rewritten into Jeeves & Wooster stories, so that’s something to look forward to stumbling across.
(Tangent: The Wikipedia page for Reggie Pepper says that the “Doing Clarence a Bit of Good” was rewritten as the Jeeves story “Jeeves Makes an Omelette”, which was originally published in the Toronto Star. The Toronto Star? What’s up with that?)
This book was interesting for the fact that we do get to see an early inspiration for Bertie Wooster. You can definitely see both how similar Reggie is to Bertie and how much Bertie evolved.
Each of the stories was exactly what one would expect from a Wodehouse story – they are highly witty and giggle worthy. The characters are all wonderful, and have a habit of getting into scrapes, not on purpose, but because they just can’t quite help it. Take “Doing Clarence a Bit of Good” for example, where Reggie’s ex fiancee has asked him to pose as a thief in the night, to steal (and destroy) a painting that was a wedding gift from her current father-in-law. Of course, during the adventure, he gets knocked unconscious by another fellow the same woman has begged to pretend to be a thief… and then they come across the father-in-law who is trying to steal the painting back because he doesn’t want his son and daughter-in-law to have it anymore (especially not when he could sell it and make a small fortune off of it himself).
Huh. I’ve just realized that there seem to be a lot of hijinks and scrapes due to women – whether the women are asking the men to do something for them, or whether it’s because a friend is in love with a certain woman and needs to convince his parents (or her) that their marriage is a good idea. Or because aunts want to check up on nephews. I never really noticed that before now. Is it the same for most of the books? I think I’m going to need to be keeping an eye out for this from now on.
By far, the highlight of this collection for me was the last short story included – “The Aunt and the Sluggard.” It tells the story of Bertie’s good friend Rocky, whose aunt will give him more money to live off if only (if only!) he will move to New York and experience the high life for her. Of course, the causes a few problems because Rocky only wants to spend his time in the quiet country, and when he finally does pretend to be living in New York, his aunt decides she’s not too old for the high life herself. Only, this throws a curveball at our wonderful Bertie, who (according to this aunt) is a sluggard living off her nephew’s inheritance (when, all the while, she thinks Bertie’s flat belongs to Rocky). So, Bertie is sent to live at a hotel without Jeeves (gasp!) and our heroes need to find a way to convince Rocky’s aunt that New York isn’t the greatest city for him, while still managing to let him keep his inheritance. There were seriously so many laughs in this story!
The Bottom Line
I’m very much looking forward to continuing with my Jeeves & Wooster reading.