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Carry On, Jeeves (A Jeeves and Bertie Novel) Hardcover – March 31, 2003
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"The very definition of British humor . . . and as Overlook continues its reissue of these absurd souffles, you can buy the work for yourself in suave hardcover volumes, the dust jackets as natty as the prose."
About the Author
P. G. Wodehouse (1881–1975) spent much of his life in Southampton, New York, but was born in England and educated in Surrey. He became an American citizen in 1955. In a literary career spanning more than seventy years, he published more than ninety books and twenty film scripts, and collaborated on more than thirty plays and musical comedies.
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Most stories have the same structure: one of Wooster's pals, all of whom are upper class and hopeless sinecures, totally dependent on their rich aunts or uncles for sustenance, gets himself entangled in a silly contretemps of some sort. Wooster "rallies round" to his aid, calling upon his man Jeeves' superior strategic mind to provide the ruse that will save the day. It is only in the end of the story when the full nature of Jeeves' ploy is fully realized by Wooster and us.
The stories are very well written, and engaging from the first letter to the last. They kept me constantly on the smile, often on the chuckle, and occasionally made me laugh out loud, particularly during the final story, "Bertie Changes his Mind".
Wodehouse is a master of the English language. His vocabulary is very rich but very precise: i would often send a fumbling hand for the dictionary, and unflinchingly discover that the lexical definition of the word under consideration fits the usage to the T. He extracts every last drop of comedy from starchy, musty grammatical constructs, such as "Often of a spring morning", used to great effect in a memorable passage from one of the stories, "The Artistic Career of Corky".
I cannot recommend this book enough. I'd been searching for a while for a book that would make me laugh. My penultimate attempt was Christopher Moore's "Fool"; suffice it to say that it is now on indefinite loan to one of my least favorite acquaintances. But from "Carry On, Jeeves" i shall not easily part.
Cecil's character voices are pitch perfect. If you've ever heard Madeline Bassett's voice in your head saying that "the stars are God's daisy chain," it probably sounds exactly like Cecil's breathless falsetto. And he perfectly captures Aunt Dahlia's purring timbre as she sardonically instructs Bertie on the steps he must take to drown himself in the kitchen garden pond.
Cecil manages to slip seamlessly from one voice to another. Though the scene of Gussie Fink-Nottle awarding prizes at Market Snodsbury Grammar School is generally ranked as one of the funniest scenes in literature and Cecil's impersonation of the normally abstemious Gussie now slurring drunk at the podium was certainly inspired, the real high point of this audio version is Cecil's virtuoso reenactment of star chef Anatole's fit of the vapors spoken in some sort of "Provence-anglais," with Bertie, Aunt Dahlia, Gussie, and Seppings the uptight butler taking seamless part in the conversation. Listen and you will gain a new appreciation of the genius of Wodehouse - and Cecil.
I've listened to other Wodehouse audio stylists and Cecil's performances are by far the best. Unlike many other readers, each voice sounds absolutely unique - I often wonder what Cecil's real voice sounds like.
If you're interested in trying Wooster on audio, try this one first. Best heard while driving to work - it's always great to start the day with a laugh.