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A Last Hurrah for Bertie, Jeeves and Wodehouse
on 24 October 2011
'Mr Wooster,' he said, 'you are a typical young man about town.'
'Oh thanks,' I responded, for it sounded like a compliment, and one always likes to say the civil thing.
With these words Bertie Wooster finds himself packed off to the country by his doctor - who has diagnosed too much fast living, too many cocktails, cigarettes and generally too much of a good time for young Bertram. As ever, in the world of Wodehouse, the quiet country retreat is nothing of the sort. Instead, Bertie finds himself in the middle of a squabble over a horse race and stuck between a pair of young lovers (one of whom Bertie might be in danger of marrying, the other of jealous and violent disposition), with an affectionate cat hanging around and assailed by a favourite but wilful aunt with a dastardly ploy: all typical Wodehouse ingredients.
Published in 1974 this was not only the last Jeeves and Wooster book it was also Wodehouse's last novel. It is not Wodehouse at, perhaps, his very greatest. Elements of the story appear just a little too familiar perhaps and the wit and verve of the story is lacking compared to Wodehouse at his absolute finest. Very few authors are, however, anything like that good and, like me, I suspect that most readers will have a permanent inward smile as they read this. Wodehouse's prose is still a delight to read.
Fans of Wooster's world will be pleased to know that, despite the later publication date, this is still the one of indomitable aunts, serious young women (with views on improving Bertie), daft and impecunious young men and cocktails before dinner. Barring a reference to Billy Graham - which suggests a post-war setting - this could easily still be the pre-war heyday of Wodehouse.
Even if a falling off for Wodehouse, this is still well worth reading for hours of joyful and innocent fun.