AUNTS AREN’T GENTLEMEN by P.G. Wodehouse
âI was particularly anxious to get together with Jeeves and hear what he had to say about the strange experience through which I had just passed, as strange an e. as had come my way in what you might call a month of Sundays.â
Reviewed by Poornima Apte (AUG 18, 2010)
For me, P. G. Wodehouse and eighth grade totally belong together. I spent all of eighth grade reading whatever Wodehouse I could get my hands on and totally inhabited the lives of Bertie Wooster, Jeeves and Blandings Castle. I still remember my friends and I writing letters to each other in the Wodehouse style: âHow are you? Hope youâre in the pink of h.â That sort of stuff.
That instantly recognizable style of writing is also here in Aunts Arenât Gentlemenâone of the many Wodehouse novels being re-released by Overlook Press for the 25th anniversary of his death. This is a Jeeves caper, which means the stoic butler is again rescuing his employer, Bertie Wooster, from comically sticky situations.
Most Wodehouse works are elaborately plotted and quite theatrical. In the best of Wodehouse writing there are many layers of comedic problems to be resolved and the humor arises from the various entanglements the characters find themselves in. A fair amount of the comedy is also physicalâcharacters literally falling into and out of traps much to their surprise. In that sense they are perfect material for sitcoms. In fact a few of the âFraserâ episodes seemed to have a Wodehouse touchâcharacters walking in and out of doors into situations that only the viewer (reader) understood the humor of.
It wasnât just Wodehouseâs infinitely loopy plots and comedic situations that made his stories so funny. There was also the writing. Although arguably Wodehouse didnât do as much irony as is otherwise a cornerstone of British comedy, his writing nevertheless shows a dry sense of humor. His was also a style of writing that showed an immense respect of and love for the languageâin that sense too, it was very âEnglish.â Bertie Wooster, for example, often consults with Jeeves about the mot juste to describe many of his feelings. Hereâs an example:
âI shall begin by saying that Miss Cook, to whom Iâm engaged, is a lady for whom I have the utmost esteem and respect, but on certain matters we do notâŚwhatâs the expression?â
âSee eye-to-eye sir?â
âThatâs right. And unfortunately those matters are the whatâd-you-call-it of my whole policy. What is it that policies have?â
âI think the word for which you are groping, sir, may possibly be cornerstone.â
Back to the book, in Aunts Arenât Gentlemen, Bertie is recommended a visit to the countryside by his doctor who thinks such a stay could do wonders for his health. As is to be expected in a Jeeves caper, even the sleepy little town of Somerset is wired full of traps and doesnât give Bertie a momentâs rest.
In the story, Bertieâs Aunt Dahlia books him a cottage in town. Before long this rental is being used as a point of rendezvous between two loversâVanessa Cook and Orlo Porter. Ms. Cook once rejected Bertieâs own advances and here, after a huge fight with her boyfriend, she attaches herself to Bertie instead. This is unwelcome news to Bertie and he must find a way of saying No to the pushy Vanessa. A parallel plot revolves around the theft of a catâa cat that has a vital role to play in an upcoming horse race.
As with other Jeeves stories, complications arise at many points until the end when everything gets resolved well and the story has a happy ending.
Aunts Arenât Gentlemen isnât the best of Wodehouseâs very entertaining work. While the dashes of humor and the style of writing are still here, the plot is not as elaborately plotted as the Jeeves ones usually are. In other words, for a reader new to Wodehouse, this would not be the book to start with. I would recommend Leave it to Jeeves or Pigs Have Wings (a great introduction to the fun at Blandings Castle) instead.
But for those familiar with Wodehouse and Jeeves, Aunts Arenât Gentlemen will serve up some good chucklesâitâs light-hearted reading especially on a dreary afternoon. Wodehouse aficionados will relish revisiting with Bertie, Aunt Dahlia and Jeeves and adding this handsome volume to their collection. For me, it definitely was a nice trip down Memory L.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 5 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Overlook Hardcover (April 2, 2009)|
|AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK?||Not Yet|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Wikipedia page on P.G. Wodehouse|
|EXTRAS:||Wikipedia on Jeeves|
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||More Wodehouse on MostlyFiction:|
Jeeves and Bertie:
- My Man Jeeves: Stories (1919)
- The Inimitable Jeeves: Stories (1923)
- Carry On, Jeeves: Stories (1925)
- Very Good, Jeeves: Stories (1930)
- Thank You, Jeeves (1934)
- Right Ho, Jeeves (1934)
- The Code of the Woosters (1938)
- Joy in the Morning (1946)
- Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit (1954)
- The Return of Jeeves (1953)
- Jeeves in the Offing (1960)
- Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves (1969)
- Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971)
- Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen (1974)
Also, a story in each of these collections:
Newest Jeeves story:
- Jeeves and the Wedding Bells (November 2013)