book recommendation: the world of jeeves

Everyone has a blue day once in awhile. When nothing goes right, when your boss or boyfriend or barista was a shit to you FOR NO GOOD REASON (or maybe with slight reason, but even if you deserved it, you were probably cranky to begin with) or when you have a cold and your head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton – you need cheering up. On days like that, it’s best to retreat to your bedroom or couch with a blanket, something warming to drink whether it’s tea, hot chocolate or a glass of wine, and this book.

The World of Jeeves is filled with wonderful short stories featuring P.G. Wodehouse’s characters of Bertie Wooster – a wealthy bubbleheaded and cheery good soul who constantly finds himself in a spot or two of trouble, and Jeeves, his impeccable manservant who always gets Bertie out of those same spots. The setting is 1930ish London and outlying country houses, and the world is one in which the worst problems of life involve extracting one’s self from an unfortunate engagement – something Bertie often finds himself whiplashed into.

Wodehouse’s writing is fun to read. Not only is he hilarious, he’s also damn clever and plays with the English language like few can:

“Lady Malvern was a hearty, happy, healthy, overpowering sort of dashed female, not so very tall but making up for it by measuring about six feet from the O.P. to the Prompt Side. She fitted into my biggest arm-chair as if it had been built around her by someone who knew they were wearing arm-chairs tight about the hips that season.”

“I mean to say, for years, right back to the time when I first went to school, this bulging relative has been one of the recognised eyesores of London. He was fat then, and day by day in every way has been getting fatter ever since, till now tailors measure him just for the sake of the exercise. He is what they call a prominent London clubman – one of those birds in tight morning-coats and grey toppers whom you see toddling along St. James’s Street on fine afternoons, puffing a bit as they make the grade. Slip a ferret into any good club between Piccadilly and Pall Mall, and you would start half a dozen Uncle Georges.”

You can’t help but smile when reading things like that. This is a perfectly gentle introduction to

hugh laurie and stephen fry

Wodehouse, especially for those in need of pampering. Read just one story, or as many as it takes to pull out of the doldrums. Stephen Fry, who portrayed Jeeves in the series, “Jeeves and Wooster” along with old friend and comedy partner Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster, named Wodehouse’s stories as those he turns to when in need of a quick buck-u-uppo, as Wodehouse would say.

Oh and by-the-by, if you can lay your hands on it, watch Stephen Fry’s Planet Word. It’s a five part series on language – how it developed, how we learn to speak and how language evolves, and the wonderful – and sometimes sinister – ways in which it is used. Those in the U.S. might have trouble finding it in playable form as it’s a BBC series, but it’s well worth the hunt. If you are linguistically inclined, or even if you couldn’t give a rat’s ass but enjoy a well-told story and a laugh or two, give it a go.

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