1923. (1999 release date for audiobook). Blackstone Audiobooks. 6 discs.
Read by Frederick Davidson.
Jeeves has long been a familiar name without being a familiar personality; I often heard his name referenced in pop culture as the consummate butler. Wanting to get acquainted with the ‘real’ Jeeves and desiring to experience Wodehouse for the first time, I picked this audio CD off the shelf in the library.
The book is told from the first-person perspective of Bertie Wooster, a young man who is a member of the “idle rich.” He likes gambling, traveling, and occasionally wearing items of clothing so ridiculous that they offend Jeeves’ impeccable sensibilities. Jeeves is Bertie’s valet and is responsible for coolly saving Bertie & his friends from many a scrape (though in a manner and timing all of Jeeves’ own choosing.)
Other characters include Bertie’s friend ‘Bingo’ who falls in love with every young woman he meets, Bertie’s Aunt Agatha who constantly seeks to ‘improve’ Bertie by marrying him off, and Bertie’s twin cousins, Claude and Eustace whose mischievous ways reminded me of the Weasley twins from Harry Potter.
I thoroughly enjoyed the ten interlinked stories in this collection (only the one set in New York City was slightly less than great). My favorite story was perhaps the one where Bingo, Bertie, and various others are so desperate for gambling schemes in the country that they set odds on the winners of the village festival games. They listen in to village gossip for inside information, cultivate a promising lad for the sprint, and pin hopes on a long-shot choice in the girls’ egg-and-spoon race. (It rather reminded me of that one episode of the Office where the Dunder Mifflin employees start betting on everything.)
The humor of The Inimitable Jeeves is exactly the kind I like: dry and witty. To try and convey a sense of the wit, I will include one of the lines I particularly enjoyed. The context for the quote is that Bertie has been having lunch with his prospective father-in-law at his flat, when they both hear some yowling from Bertie’s bedroom (Bertie does not own a cat.)
It sounded as though all the cats in London, assisted by delegates from outlying suburbs, had got together to settle their differences once and for all.
I quite like the “delegates from outlying suburbs” applying to cats.
As an audio book experience, The Inimitable Jeeves may so far be my favorite. Frederick Davidson was a dream of a reader. I loved all his voices for the characters. I will have to see if my library carries any more Jeeves audio CD’s with him as a reader (though Davidson – real name: David Case – sadly passed away in 2005).
Bookphilia – “The Inimitable Jeeves is, like the other Wodehouse books I’ve read, just a silly romp and good-natured poke at the idle rich.”
Let’s Eat, Grandpa . .. “I could tell this series of story was written earlier in Wodehouse’s very prolific writing career. It just wasn’t quite as tight as some of his other books.”
Stella Matutina – “Bertie’s voice is absolutely delightful! I love all the odd little expressions he throws out there, and I think Wodehouse has done an admirable job of painting him as well-meaning but inept.”