on 26 February 2011
EDIT - THEY SEEM TO HAVE FIXED IT. HOORAY!
Going by the new eBook version now available for download, they've fixed all the old problems there were with this and many of the Wodehouse books. This is great cause for celebration, so I withdraw my negative comments. I've left them below for the record, but while I haven't checked this book throughout for typos etc. the formatting really does seem to be 100% massively improved and entirely readable at last. Great news!
A CLASSIC NOVEL - POOR ON KINDLE
I started writing this review with the express purpose of publicly complaining at the poor job done of converting Wodehouse's books to eBooks, and wanted to give this particular product 1/5 to emphasise the point, but it feels like a sin to put anything other than 5 stars next to this - perhaps Wodehouse's very best book.
On Kindle it is useless, unfortunately, along with all of Wodehouse's books. I'm not sure where the publisher got the text files, probably scans of the original. But whilst the books have been attractively set in Arrow's new paperbacks, in eBook form all of Wodehouse's books suffer from having paragraph breaks as well as indentations, and also boast tacky HTML straight inverted commas. Lazy, lazy, lazy. Ten minutes of find+replace in Word and they could have fixed this. It makes it hard to read (you can never get into the flow, having to jump rather than flow from paragraph to paragraph) and looks cheap and nasty. You also have to turn pages probably 30% more than you should, thanks to the pointless spacing.
Pricing, of course, is also less than ideal - but for that I blame the government's 20% VAT on all eBooks (whereas books suffer 0%).
Wodehouse deserves better.
on 2 October 2000
Here it is: 'the sinister affair of Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeleine Bassett, old Pop Bassett, Stiffy Byng, the Rev. H.P. ('Stinker') Pinker, the eighteenth-century cow-creamer and the small, brown, leather-covered notebook'. A terrific introduction to the world of Bertie and Jeeves for novices, and one of the finest examples of Wodehouse's genius for those already familiar with his work. Presented here in the brilliant new Everyman edition (that will eventually encompass everything Wodehouse wrote) the book is well put-together, and definitely deserves pride of place in your home library.
on 14 March 2011
To my shame, I had ignored P G Wodehouse, regarding it as dated nonsense. The blinkers were lifted from my eyes by a quote in an unrelated book and so I decided to give it a try. Within just a few pages I realised what I was missing, Wodehouse has a great turn of phrase and most unusually, the book has (for me anyway) about twenty "laugh out loud" moments. It is very much of its time, but like some classic comedy, it doesn't seem to have dated any. I have become a convert and if you give it a go, you might also become a fan.
All of the P.G. Wodehouse novels about Bertram ("Bertie") Wooster and his gentleman's gentleman, Jeeves, are funny. Some are reasonably complicated in their plots. But none compare to this classic in the series.
From the beginning, Bertie is up against impossible odds. Sent by his Aunt Dahlia to sneer at a Cow Creamer, Bertie dangerously bumps into Sir Watkyn Bassett, the magistrate who once fined him five guineas for copping a policeman's helmet on Boat Race night, and Roderick Spode, Britain's aspiring fascist dictator. The only trouble in this encounter is that Bertie is clutching the Cow Creamer on the sidewalk after having tripped on a cat and falling through the front door, and Sir Watkyn recognizes him as a former criminal. Barely escaping arrest on the spot, Bertie returns home to find that Aunt Dahlia wants him to debark immediately for Totley Towers where Sir Watkyn has just taken the Cow Creamer he has purchased after pulling a ruse on Uncle Tom. When there, Bertie is to steal the Cow Creamer. At the same time, he receives urgent telegrams from his old pal, Gussie Fink-Nottle, to come to Totley Towers to save his engagement to Madeleine Bassett. Bertie feels like he is being sent into the jaws of death.
Jeeves immediately fetches up a plot to get Madeleine Bassett, to whom he has been affianced twice, to invite Bertie to her father's home. Upon arriving, Sir Watkyn and Roderick Spode immediately catch him holding the Cow Creamer. Sir Watkyn threatens years in jail, until Madeleine comes in to rescue him. But Sir Watkyn proceeds to assume that everything that goes wrong from then is due to Bertie. For once, Bertie is the innocent party. But he takes the rap anyway, because of the code of the Woosters, never let a pal down.
Never has anyone had a goofier set of pals. Gussie Fink-Nottle has developed spiritually so that he has less fear, but his method of achieving this soon puts him in peril. Stephanie "Stiffy" Byng, Sir Watkyn's niece, has to be the goofiest acquaintance that Bertie has. She is a one-woman wrecking machine for creating havoc. Her fiance, another old pal of Bertie's, "Stinker" Pinker, the local curate, is only slightly better.
Just when you cannot see any way that Bertie can avoid gaol, Jeeves comes up with one brilliant plan after another. It's truly awe-inspiring as well as side-splittingly funny.
P.G. Wodehouse remarked that he preferred to write as though the subject were musical comedy, and he has certainly captured that mood here at its vibrant best. You'll be on the edge of your chair and trying to avoid falling on the floor laughing at the same time.
After you've followed more twists and turns than existed in the Labyrinth at Crete, consider how far you would go to save a pal . . . or to keep a secret . . . or to protect a loved one. What should the personal code be?
Be generous with your friends and to all humankind.
on 24 May 1999
PG Wodehouse is a wonderful author and his original manuscript of The Code of the Woosters must have been wonderful too. But you should not buy THIS edition, which is typeset so badly it is positively bizarre. Even the first word - "I" - is missing. Commas and inverted commas are missing too, and there is even a > computer sign like this on page one. The typescript on different pages is of varying lenghts and often stop half-way along a line in mid-sentence. This edition might appeal to collectors but for a straightforward read you have to give it a miss.
The story is close to the definitive Jeeves & Wooster: true love not running smoothly, the threat of unwanted matrimony hanging over Bertie, Aunts, Anatole the chef, Jeeves utilising psychology to extricate his master, cow creamers, leather bound notebooks and policemen's helmets and , unforgettably, the ludicrous black 'footer bags' of Roderick Spode, necessary because by the time he formed his fascist party 'all the shirts had gone'.
Horden and Briers are excellent as usual and Patrick Cargill provides strong support as Sir Watkin Bassett.
on 30 April 2012
I have to echo the review by Paddington. A superb book by the great Wodehouse, but the Kindle conversion is frankly a disgrace. Absolutely no effort has been made to ensure that this book is properly readable on the Kindle and Random House should be ashamed of themselves.
Speech marks are frequently missing (every two or three pages), meaning it's difficult to tell when speech ends and narration starts. Indents are all over the place. The margins are uneven. Great gaps appear at the top and bottom of the pages. It's a really dreadful job. And the price for this, which took someone 10 seconds to upload (because clearly it was never checked) - £4.94! Where has that figure been plucked from, considering the production overheads are apparently 0p? Had this been for sale for 99p you might be able to overlook this slovenliness, but when you're paying the thick-end of a normal paperback price it's infuriating.
It's funny: the Kindle has a reputation for 'amateur' or 'indy' authors uploading their work carelessly - yet it's Random House, a massive publisher, who are taking people for a ride. And, really, it's a bit of an insult to Wodehouse himself. He deserves better than this shameless profiteering.
on 5 August 2005
Just to lend weight to Robert McNeil's complaint.
Wodehouse's prose is very precise, and shoddy proofreading can spoil the effect. For example, a remark of Bertie's about the female of the species being "deadlier than the m." is rendered nonsensically as "deadlier than them". This edition is a dreadful blot on Penguin's escutcheon.
on 18 October 2003
This has one of the most highly complicated plots of all the Jeeves novels, involving brown leather covered notebooks, cow-creamers, fiances, uncles and would-be dictators. However, it is well worth the effort, as I promise you will be in stitches from start to finish.
on 27 April 2014
This stands alongside Right Ho, Jeeves as Wodehouse at his best, with Bertie Wooster finding himself up against it as never before while Jeeves rallies round to save 'the young master'. The novel is utterly idyllic.
Many of the old favourite characters make an appearance with Aunt Dahlia as ebullient and strident as ever while Gussie Fink-Nottle and Madeleine Bassett continue their feeble meandering through the world. We also meet some new characters who will develop into central figures in the Wooster oeuvre: Sir Watkyn Bassett (former magistrate and father of the simpering Madeleine), Roderick Spode, would-be leader of men, and Stephanie ("Stiffy") Byng, neice and ward of Sir Watkyn and the owner of Bartholomew, the redoubtable Aberdeen terrier.
Roderick Spode is an interesting character as he represents almost the only instance of Wodehouse indulging in political satire. Spode is an aspiring politician and is clearly modelled on Sir Oswald Mosley, leading a far-right group called 'The Saviours of Britain' who roam the streets wearing black shorts (yes, shorts rather than shirts, because, as Gussie Fink-Nottle explains to Bertie, 'by the time Spode formed his association, there were no shirts left'. He does, however, have a dark, zealously-guarded secret which will become central to the plot. He has also worshipped Madeleine and has sworn to punish anyone who in any way mars her happiness.
There are some classic set pieces here, on a par with Gussie's speech to the Market Snodsbury school from Right Ho, Jeeves, including bertie's first encounter with Sir Watkyn Bassett and Spode in an antique shop in the Brompton Road and Constable Oates's misadventure while cycling unaware of Bartholomew's proximity.
As is always the case with Wodehouse's novels, and particularly the adventures of Bertie and Jeeves, the plot is sinuous to the point of defeating summary. Suffice it to say that it revolves around a hideous silver cow creamer! The numerous twists are deftly managed, and all of the loose ends are resolved in full.
Pure entertainment from start to finish.