The Return of Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (review by Andrew R. ’17)

The Return of Jeeves: A Jeeves and Bertie NovelThe Return of Jeeves: A Jeeves and Bertie Novel by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

These days, nearly half a century after the death of P. G. Wodehouse and twice that long since his first books were published, readers tend to remember only one subset of his canon: the Jeeves and Wooster novels, which follow bumbling young aristocrat Bertie and his suave, brilliant butler Jeeves as they dodge the salvos of undesirable jobs (and occasional death threats) hurled at them by Bertie’s overbearing aunts. Well, Wodehouse is worthy of plenty of complimentary adjectives—he’s witty, endearing, and well-paced, to start—but “versatile” isn’t one of them. In The Return of Jeeves, Bertie is off on vacation, so Jeeves has been left to take care of Bill Towcester (pronounced “Toaster”), a bumbling young aristocrat with overbearing female relatives. Sound familiar? And yet, despite the fact that nothing in the plot marks a radical departure from the Jeeves and Wooster pattern, the narrative feels uncomfortable and clunky, more like a Wodehouse impersonator than Wodehouse himself. The humorist is exceedingly good at toying with the same characters in the same situations and same settings, but, as I was disappointed to discover, he has trouble with even the slightest variations on his trademark theme. – Andrew R. ’17

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