In this peerless example of droll, tongue-in-cheek humor, P. G. Wodehouse continues the adventures of Bertie Wooster, an often silly member of the upper class who depends on his much more sensible "gentleman's gentleman," Jeeves, to keep his life from falling apart. In this novel, Wooster has been growing a mustache for the two weeks that Jeeves has been on a shrimping holiday, and he fears that Jeeves will not like it. Sure, enough Jeeves does not, and neither do any of his other friends—except for Lady Florence Craye, his former fiancée, now engaged to Stilton Cheesewright (to Bertie's great relief).
The fate of the mustache is only the starting point for Wodehouse's comedy of errors, however, as Bertie goes from London to his Aunt Dahlia's country home, where Lady Florence, Stilton Cheesewright, and Percy Gorringe, a young man who wants to produce a play based on Lady Florence's book, are also in attendance. As Lady Florence and Stilton Cheesewright play out their on-again, off-again romance, Percy is casting longing eyes at Florence, who is flirting with Bertie once again.
As is always the case with Wodehouse, events quickly become more complex. Percy wants Bertie to invest one thousand pounds in the play. Aunt Dahlia, wanting to sell her magazine, decides to "salt the mine," secretly selling her pearls so she can serialize a novel by a famous romance author to make the magazine more attractive. Her husband, at this point, decides to have the pearls appraised. Bertie takes Florence to a nightclub to "do research for her new novel," and he is arrested. Not surprisingly, it is the resilient Jeeves who comes to the rescue, time and time again, proving that good sense and grounding in the real world are far more important than the silly pretensions of Bertie and his friends.
Wodehouse's gentle satire of upperclass life makes his novels appeal to a broad spectrum of readers. His word play, consummate sense of irony, and ability to make dialogue sound simultaneously absurd and realistic create a fast-moving set of outrageous scenes in which Jeeves, the "gentleman's gentleman" proves to be the real hero, the one person who knows how to live in this silly world. n Mary Whipple