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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Jeeves & Wooster by P.G. Wodehouse

Due to my new fascination with the 1920s-1930s (books and films such as The Heart of Thomas and Les Amitiés Particulières got me into this, I swear) and my love of classical comedy, my dad found Jeeves & Wooster for me, and I'm in love with the series! At the moment I'm halfway through the series, and I've read the first volume of the Jeeves Omnibus obsessively whilst in France. So I suppose this is a review for TV and book.

The Jeeves and Wooster book and TV series both follow the theme of master and valet; Jeeves is the intelligent, calculating valet who always remains stoical and has a solution to everything, and Bertie Wooster is the master, who is labelled as one of the 'Idle rich'. He doesn't really have an ambition in life except to have fun, and is always getting himself into trouble, and relying on Jeeves to get him out of it. Sometimes he is even arrested by the police for schoolboy-like pranks!

First of all, the series has never failed to make me laugh. The comedy is light, innocent and very witty compared with the comedies produced today that lean more towards a satirical, sarcastic side of things. The part about Roderick Spode, an intimidating dictator-like character secretly designing ladies lingerie, and not being able to beat Bertie and his friend Gussie to a pulp because he knows all about 'Eulalie', without actually knowing a thing about 'Eulalie' had me howling for days whenever I thought about it!

Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie make the best Jeeves and Bertie Wooster portrayals, and I couldn't imagine anybody else playing these characters half as well as they did. I've watched every season of Black Adder (another comedy I adore) and I've come to the conclusion that they're just amazing actors all round. Everything from their voices, to facial expressions and dress suit P.G. Wodehouse's characters to a T! Whist reading the books, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry's voices are the voices I imagine for the characters, and it's always their faces I see for Bertie and Jeeves.

As for the book, I couldn't put it down! The Jeeves series is one of the best books I've ever read. It's very amusing, very different to anything else I've seen, and extremely casual as it is set from Bertie's point-of-view. The language used by Bertie and his peers sometimes is comedy in itself - after all, I'm British, but to me, they sound really stereotypically British, like the sitting down for an afternoon tea party whilst eating cucumber sandwiches and crumpets kind of British. Yet, I suppose that is the way they spoke in the twenties and thirties? Either way, they sound very posh, and I love the phrases and exclamations that Bertie makes. For example, he 'says "bally" as a euphemism for "bloody", and exclaims, "By Jove!" every so often. There is more, but those are the expressions off the top of my head.

Can I just say that I love the characters? Bertie Wooster in particular. I love his attitude, the fact that he is always in good humour, and very gentlemanly, cheerful and charming to everyone. He is really funny, and has a good outlook on life. In fact, I think he must be somewhere in my top five favourite characters! I also really like Jeeves, as he is very trim and proper, intelligent and independent. Somewhat, in the series he seems almost too good to be true, leaving everybody wishing they had a manservant just like him (including me).

I would recommend this book and TV series to anybody. It is something that anyone would enjoy as it is so light and funny. Soon I hope to find time to watch the rest of the episodes, and some extra time to read the next few volumes of the Jeeves Omnibus.

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