It’s a Friday. You’re looking ahead at a pretty uneventful weekend. So you wander aimlessly looking for something to do, when you stroll past a bookstore. Why not? It’s been a while since you’ve read something that didn’t involve never ending formulae or confusing equations. Once you enter, you easily get lost amongst the hundreds of books that line the shelves of the bookstore. There are bestsellers, biographies, fantasy, murder mysteries and you don’t know where to start. Before you know it, you’re thinking you can always catch the repeat of some TV show. But before you leave, go over to ‘Fiction’ and look for any book by P G Wodehouse and there’s a good chance the television may not be switched on for the weekend.
It was my father who turned me on to Wodehouse a few years ago. I just wanted to see what the fuss was about. But I found myself chuckling away at his delicate yet sarcastic word play. If you’ve heard of Wodehouse then you’ve probably heard of Jeeves — arguably one of the most wonderful characters to have been put on paper.
Even though Wodehouse produced fascinating characters and charming stories, none can compare to the famous ‘gentleman’s personal gentleman’. Jeeves became such a popular character that he had a search engine named after him (AskJeeves.com) — a fitting tribute to someone who never disappoints anyone looking for an answer.
Bertram (Bertie) Wooster is an English gentleman, a fine example of the ‘idle rich’ and more importantly, the clumsy, slightly inarticulate employer of Jeeves. A proud simpleton, Bertie frequently finds himself in one form of trouble or other. Be it his multiple love interests or gambling troubles, he always tries to sort it out himself and, after making it an even bigger disaster goes to Jeeves. Jeeves being disciplined and having a sophisticated code of conduct does not interfere but does add a word of advice every now and then. At the end of it, Jeeves always comes through to help him out and does so with shrewd insight. Jeeves is an expert in practically everything. His specialities include philosophy, hangover remedies, psychology and the topic elusive to every man — women.
Wodehouse has a number of other literary works to his credit. In the Golf Series narrated by the oldest member of the Golf Club, the stories are centred around golf and its slavish patrons. The Mr Mulliner series is about a regular at Anglers Rest Pub who interrupts bar conversation to narrate stories of the adventures of his family. The Ukridge stories feature a con artist who takes every opportunity to scam people. The Drones Club is a series about the happenings at the club and the exploits of its members.
Although Wodehouse is considered a humourist, it seems like a bit of an understatement. He delivers mirth and intelligence in a lighthearted manner that seems deceptively effortless. With Jeeves or Mr Mulliner, he is sure to capture your attention with his deft writing and endearing characters.