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The Old Feudal Spirit,
This review is from: Right Ho, Jeeves (Paperback)
"You silly a . . . " is a phrase often repeated by Bertram (Bertie) Wooster's favorite Aunt Dahlia in describing him in this country romp of romance and gastronomy gone wrong. And that's the nicest thing she has to say about him in this story.
Bertie's main redeeming quality to his friends and family in this story is his manservant, Jeeves. Over the years of their relationship, everyone who knows Bertie comes to realize that Bertie is a bumbling fool and that Jeeves is a problem-solving genius. The parallels to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are unavoidable in one's mind, except these stories are played out as comedy along the lines of A Midsummer Night's Dream rather than as serious business. Like Dr. Watson for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Bertie is the narrator of this novel.
Bertie, as a gentleman, feels that it is important to keep Jeeves in his place. He looks for the old feudal spirit of serf to master from Jeeves. When Jeeves challenges Bertie's decision to wear an informal jacket in the country that he brought back from Cannes, Bertie decides to put Jeeves in his place.
In Right Ho, Jeeves, everyone is looking for solutions to their problems from Jeeves. The fly in the old ointment though is that Bertie tells Jeeves to stifle himself while Bertie tries to save the day. As you can imagine, each Bertie wheeze (or plot) turns out to be a blunder instead that makes things much worse. Then Bertie tries again, with even worse results. And so on.
As background to the story's beginning, Bertie is just back from two months in Cannes on the Riviera with Aunt Dahlia, his cousin Angela, and her friend, Madeline Bassett. Aunt Dahlia recruits Bertie to give the prizes at the local school, while Bertie scrambles to avoid the appearance. His old pal, Gussie Fink-Nottle, a newt expert, has fallen for Madeline Bassett but he is too shy to propose. Bertie works on Gussie's resolve. Tuppy Glossop, another pal, is engaged to cousin Angela until they have a row about double chins and sharks. Bertie tries to bring reconciliation to the warring parties. Aunt Dahlia's domestic peace depends on the gourmet cooking of Anatole, which is essential to get money for her magazine out of her dyspepsic husband, Uncle Tom, to offset what she lost at the casino. Bertie's misconceptions soon have Anatole in despair, and contemplating departure. Aunt Dahlia is shaken to the core.
Things look glum indeed for the young lovers, Aunt Dahlia, and for Bertie. How will the day be saved?
Why, then did I rate the book down one star? First, the plot does go on and on through its complications. A good editor could have chopped this down by about 25 percent and made a much better novel. Second, there is a reference to people of color beginning with the letter "n" that will offend many, and certainly offended me.
A better offering in this series are the stories in the audio cassettes entitled, Jeeves and the Old School Chum. You might start there if you don't know Bertie and Jeeves yet. Only after you have used up the five star Jeeves audio tapes and books should you move onto this story. And you should do so only if you are fully compelled to have more of Bertie and Jeeves.
After you have finished this book, consider whether you have ever failed to take good advice. If you have avoided that, was false pride involved? If so, how can you overcome that misconception and self-deception in the future?