Ladies and gentlemen and boys, I will not detain you long, but I propose on this occasion to feel compelled to say a few auspicious words.
The auspicious occasion, of course, is the first entry of The Solute Book Club. And with some heavy stuff on the horizon, I’m glad we’re breaking the ice with something short and breezy. Visiting the world of Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves is like taking a break from the cares of the world to enjoy a glass of champagne on a warm afternoon – crisp, bubbly, and delightfully frivolous. These stories are set in a between-the-wars idyll filled with stately homes and country squires, where the stakes never rise above the mundane, yet are recounted in the highest and most dramatic of terms, often with reference to the great poets. Through Bertie’s eyes we bear witness to hearts that ache, delicate chivalry worthy of most parfait knights, and battles of wills between strong men.
Wodehouse’s use of language is the first of the great pleasures of these books. There is a musicality in the flow of speech and the precision of word choices assigned to each character. The second delight is in the structure of the incidents, in this case in the service of pure farce. I’m informed (by Wikipedia, but still) that Wodehouse would spend up to two years designing the plot of any one of his stories before he actually began to write, taking particular care in choosing which characters were the right ones to perform specific incidents. This attention to detail pays off in tightly-constructed stories with multiple plots interacting and escalating until Bertie is finally forced to submit his affairs to Jeeves.
And so, boys and ladies and gentlemen, I will leave you in Wodehouse’s capable hands. I hope you will find this book to be a pleasant diversion – it aspires to nothing higher, but I assure you that the utmost effort has been put into executing this purpose.
The Solute Book Club: Easy to join! Read Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse on your own time and look to the Solute on Tuesday, August 24th for another piece by Casper to kick off a discussion in the comments. More details here.
Right Ho, Jeeves, may be in the public domain depending on your country. This is the case in the United States, so free e-book copies are available in several formats through Project Gutenberg and a free audio version can be found at LibriVox. Alternate audio versions are available for purchase from your local bookstore via Libro.fm For those wanting to obtain a hard copy we encourage you to scavenge your favorite local bookstore, check your favorite used book sites, or use your friendly local library.