My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's P.G. Wodehouse, so why not five stars?
Well, here's the scoop. I love Bertie Wooster and Jeeves. One of the most clever duos to have ever graced the printed page. Between Jeeve's restrained resourcefulness and Bertie's self-admitted idiocy, there is a lot of potential for misadventure, and Wodehouse delivers it in droves.
Half of the short stories in this volume are Jeeves and Wooster material. The other half is from what I glean as earlier material, with a main character named Reggie Peppers. Now, Peppers is a fore-runner of Wooster, no doubt, but he is a bit of a homunculus, a shadow, a pretender, when compared to the sharp imbecility of Bertie Wooster. Peppers is . . . well, smarter. And more wordy. The clipped down anti-witticisms of Wooster are watered down in Peppers, which leaves the Peppers stories a little wanting. Peppers wants to be Wooster, but doesn't quite get there because, quite frankly, Peppers isn't dumb enough.
I am so glad that Wodehouse decided to stick with it and followed through to give life to Bertie Wooster. This isn't to say that Wodehouse missed here. Peppers made an adequate character, but Wooster, with Jeeves as his foil, is pure stupid genius. The Wooster stories in My Man Jeeves bear this out. The merry bungling of Wodehouse's longer works is apparent and the plot lines are as ridiculous and convoluted as one can expect in short fiction (though not as ridiculous and convoluted as his novellas/novels). Five stars for Bertie, negative one star for Peppers. Still strongly recommended.
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