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4.5 out of 5 stars
52
4.5 out of 5 stars
Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (Everyman's Library P G WODEHOUSE)
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on 16 May 2017
Excellent
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on 23 March 2017
easy reading before bed
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on 20 January 2004
"Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves" is an example of Wodehouse at his best - to paraphrase Evelyn Waugh, cramming three original similes onto every page. The book continues the saga of the Wooster / Bassett / Fink-Nottle "love triangle", and Wodehouse as ever handles the problem of filling in new readers with aplomb (though it is undoubtedly better to have read the preceding volumes - after all, why wouldn't you want to read the preceding volumes?). Bertie is once again at Totleigh Towers where "only man is vile", desperately trying to avoid imprisonment, dismemberment at the hands of Spode (now under the alias of Lord Sidcup) while failing spectacularly to act as raisonneur to the Madeleine / Gussie relationship -which now appears to be floundering on the insurmountable obstacle of vegetarianism. Bertie gets some good one-liners, and the dialogue is excellent as always. Though writen post-war, after what many consider the Wodehouse golden-age of the 1930s, this remains an example of Wodehouse at his best.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 June 2017
When told that Stiffy Byng requires his presence at Totleigh Towers to perform a little task for her, Bertie issues a strong nolle prosequi. This young menace to society, Stiffy, while undoubtedly easy on the eye, is well known for landing her friends in hot water up to their chins. Plus Totleigh Towers is the home of Sir Watkyn Bassett who, due to an unfortunate misunderstanding, is convinced that Bertie is a habitual thief. Only Jeeves' brilliance in the past has prevented Bertie from serving time at His Majesty's pleasure, and Bertie has no desire to risk another encounter with Sir Watkyn. But storm clouds are gathering. There is a rift in the lute of love between Madeline, daughter of Sir Watkyn, and Gussie Fink-Nottle, keeper of newts, over the issue of steak pies – Gussie would like to eat them while Madeline is insisting on him sticking to a vegetarian diet. In the past, Madeline has made it clear that, should she find it necessary to return Gussie to store, Bertie will be expected to fill the vacancy for prospective bridegroom. Madeline, as readers will recall, believes that every time a fairy sheds a tear, a wee bit star is born in the Milky Way, so one can readily understand why Bertie is so keen to see Madeline and Gussie reconciled. The only way to make sure of it is to go to Totleigh Towers after all...

This is one of Wodehouse's later novels, written in 1963 when he was in his eighties. While it's still a lot of fun with all of his trademark lightness and charm, it doesn't really compare to the books he was writing at his peak. In fact, the plot is largely a re-hash of elements that have appeared in previous books – Stiffy and the favour, stealing objets d'art from Sir Watkyn, Spode threatening to break the neck of anyone who upsets Madeline, etc., - and Wodehouse frequently refers back to those earlier episodes, going over what happened in them with the pretext of bringing new readers up to date. Wodehouse always carried plot elements and jokes from book to book, but each time changing them enough so that they achieved a feeling of being both fresh and familiar at the same time, like variations on a theme – the ultimate comfort reading, in fact. But in this one it feels more like repetition than variation. I hesitate to use the word stale – Wodehouse could never be that – but certainly not straight from the oven. However, I suspect that might only be obvious to people who have a good familiarity with the earlier Jeeves books.

There are some new elements in it, though, which lift it and make it still an enjoyable read . For example, Major Plank is a retired bastion of the Empire, giving Wodehouse the opportunity to poke some fun at the British attitudes to its colonies at the time – though the book was written in the '60s, it's set in the '30s, I'd say. And, while Bertie's Aunt Dahlia doesn't appear in person, we have the fun of some of her phone conversations with her much-loved but exasperating nephew.

I listened to the audiobook version with Jonathan Cecil narrating and, as always, he does an excellent job, giving distinct voices to all the different characters and doing an excellent Bertie. Even though this isn't one of the all-time bests, it's still great, mood-enhancing entertainment, as are all of the Jeeves books.
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on 9 September 2017
If I tell you that this book begins with Bertie inhaling his morning tea and toast, full of the js of s, without a cloud on his horizon, until he gets an invite down to his Aunt’s house in the country, where Stiffy has cooked up a plan for him to steal something, to thereby help her chances of marrying Bertie’s old chum Stinker, and that Gussie Fink-Nottle’s engagement to Madeleine Bassett is looking shaky too, you might think that you’ve read this one. But you might not. By this stage in the J&W series this basic plot is pretty much set on repeat. As with the experience of the art-appreciation of multiple rooms of early paintings of the Virgin and Child in Italian art galleries, the joy is in the technique and the subtle differences in the formula. I am spending 2017 reading the whole Jeeves and Wooster series from soup to nuts, and having reached this one, number 14 of 16, or thereabouts (opinions differ) I can report that this one is as fine honing of the timeless recipe as you can chuckle and smile through. Wooster has a tasteless item of apparel which Jeeves loathes, and which will be dispensed with at the end to reward Jeeves his solution of all problems, there’s a problem with a disappearing chef, but it’s not Anatole this time, which is a radical change, and the horror of Madeleine's attempted imposition of strict vegetarianism on poor Gussie puts all other suffering into perspective. So, sneaking downstairs for some illicit steak and kidney pie is soon essential...what a stupid place to put a grandfather clock, and where’s that barking coming from?
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 April 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The success and enjoyment of an audio version of a PG Wodehouse book depends, in my view, on the quality of the narrator and Jonathan Cecil does a first class job. He has a versatile voice that one minute can be scattered-brained Bertie Wooster, the next sedate and precise Jeeves or a soft-voiced society girl and switching effortlessly among them as he narrates a conversation. It's a typical Wooster/Jeeves story: Bertie gets into various troubles, some of them potentially matrimonial and Jeeves saves the day.

The characters in PG Wodehouse books are fossils from a by-gone age (or I hope so!) but the author makes them benign and endearing and out of their mouths come batty-thoughts and priceless figures of speech that are laugh-out-loud funny.

I hadn't read this particular book and enjoyed the story. My only criticism is that I don't much like CDs nowadays and transferred the tracks to my computer and back onto my iPhone as I like to listen to books as I walk, cook or garden and this book accompanied me enjoyably on all three pursuits.
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VINE VOICEon 18 October 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm not a great fan of audio books, but they really come into their own when you have to travel. Whether it is a long drive or a tedious airport lounge, Bertie and Jeeves can make the journey seem a lot shorter. And having someone as energetic as Jonathan Cecil read it all aloud for you is very soothing and relaxing. No effort is required from you other than to listen and laugh aloud when you just can't help it. Of course, I always picture Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie in the roles, but that' not a bad thing, to have that mental image in your mind.

This would be a great present for someone older, perhaps about to retire, who would have the time to listen and enjoy the many hours of entertainment on here.
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on 22 April 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Rightly or not, whenever I think of Jeeves and Wooster, I usually think about the excellent ITV series, which seems to hark back to a seemingly not so long ago (but really quite a while ago) age when ITV made good programs. But I digress... The BBC still make good programs, so I was suprised by three things; 1) I don't remember this novel at all, and its one of the 'newer' ones from the 60s, 2) It was dramatised in the 1993 series, and 3) This audiobook is only from 2005, and there was a newer version made this year, with a fuller cast. All of this must have passed me by.

These 6 CDs bring a full, unabridged reading, and I very quickly got used to the narrator once I had gotten used to them not being the familiar voices from the television. A very enjoyable audiobook, well worth the money.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 1 May 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Bertie Wooster attracts disaster in the same way as Basil Fawlty. He merely asks a quiet life, but a collection of friends and associates will insist on dragging him into their schemes. Here, poor Bertie sets out to help his good friend, Stinker Pinker, and unwittingly finds himself almost married to the simpering Madeline Bassett, whilst falling foul once more of the veritable ogre Roderick Spode. Thankfully, Jeeves is on hand to rescue Bertie from this terrible fate and restore equilibrium. Jonathan Cecil is the perfect Wodehouse narrator, he's spot on with every tone and nuance, drawing out the personalities of a wide, beautifully crafted range of characters. This reading is a positive joy.
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`Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves' carries on the saga starting with `Right Ho, Jeeves' and continuing through `The Code of the Woosters', `The Mating Season' and `Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit'. The same cast of characters are reassembled at TotleighTowers the ancestral home of Sir Watkyn Bassett father of Madeline Basset whom is yet again estranged to her fiancé Gussie Fink-Nottle. Once the engagement is under the cosh, Bertie and Jeeves are summand to restore the larch to the thorn and God to the heavens. Matters are not helped by the further complication of the engagement of Madeline's cousin `Stiffy' Byng to the local Curate `Stinker' Pinker and that they require Sir Watkyn to give Stinker the Vicarage that is in his gift in order for the banns to be read. Also present is Wodehouse's most unfortunate Character, one Roderick Spode recently ascended to the title Lord Sidcup.

Gussie on being pushed to far by having to become vegetarian to curry favour with Madeline elopes with the cook and Jeeves must find away to prevent Madeline from marrying Bertie as the old standby whilst setting up Stinker up with a vicarage. He eventually brings about a fantastic conclusion with the un-witted assistance of Major Plank whom had previously conspired with Uncle Fred in `Uncle Dynamite'.

And so Wodehouse, again, leaves us in the best of all possible worlds with God in his heaven.
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