©1938, 1966 Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, held by Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate; (P)1990, 2000 Chivers Audio Books
St. Louis, Missouri
Evelyn Waugh was about right when he said, “Mr. Wodehouse's idyllic world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in.”
This classic from the Monarch or Royal of the Master—he apparently used both brands of typewriter in the course of a longish authorial career—has certainly released me more than once from dull hours and duller cares. In a bookshelf with more high spots than a can-can line, Code of the Woosters is one of the highest; a story that delights no matter how many times I listen to it—and I generally fit it in at least once a year, in the autumn, the season in which the story is set.
The tonic effect of Wodehouse is, I believe, heightened with repeated listening. The rhythm of his sentences and then the almost bulletproof good humor of his perspective, begin to seep into your system and you notice bits of his Drones Club jargon in your own speech. Rather than say you don’t want to see someone, you observe that you’d run a mile in tight shoes to avoid them. Instead of merely feeling relieved, you start singing like a relieved nightingale. Don’t fight it. It means the inoculation against Modern Times is taking effect and the cure is working.
I’m not going to say a word about the plot because with Woodhouse plot is everything and it’s my object here to give away nothing. He once said that, on average, he generated around 400 pages of notes to work out the plot of one of his books—a book that generally ran half that length. Let’s just say that I’ve always suspected the notes for this plot may have run a tad longer. It in complex, contorted and convoluted, all words which, in the world according to Wodehouse, are good things.
One of the peculiarities about audio books is that, if there are different recordings of a book, the version you first heard becomes THE version; no others will satisfy. This is especially so with a writer like Wodehouse, where every inflection makes a difference. Years ago I first listened to this version of this book on audiocassette. So the fact that I think Jonathan Cecil is at his very best on this one may be due merely to my early, Lorenzian imprinting. Nevertheless, there it is.
Buy it, listen to it—and repeat the dose as often as needed.
Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.
Oh Bertie, Bertie, Bertie! He is so innocently devoid of any common sense! He follows his social callings (hence the name, Code of the Woosters) without any consideration for what he's getting himself into, nor idea of how to extricate himself (and sometimes his friends) from the silly dilemmas they get themselves into. However, there is always Jeeves, the miraculously competent and clever "gentleman's gentleman" who quietly provides the rescue every single time.
In this case, in addition to Bertie's helping his best friend with his love life, he is forced to help his aunt obtain an item from an antique shop at a lower cost by pretending to eye it beforehand while uttering disparaging remarks about it to the shop owner. If only it had been that simple. The entire thing turns into a comedy of errors as the object turns up elsewhere and has to be retrieved by subterfuge (or so they believe). The result is a laugh out loud scramble for the possession, which, of course, only Jeeves can resolve through his background resourcefulness.
P.G. Wodehouse is, of course, the most famous English author who ever took on the pomposity and sometimes silliness of the English aristocracy. He does it in such a light-hearted way that one does not feel he meant to be hurtful, but merely to poke a bit bit of innocent fun and perhaps show the contrast between people with nothing but idle time on their hands and the harder working classes. These books have found their way into the classic realm (at least as far as I'm concerned), and I like to read/listen to them when I've just had a bit much of the serious stuff in life. The narration of Jonathon Cecil seems just perfect to me. I so enjoy this book (and all Wodehouse books), and hope you will too.
I loved this story when I saw the Stephen Fry/Hugh Laurie version. Listening to the whole book is even better. I've found that P.G. Wodehouse stories are wonderful companions on car trips. The miles seem to go by much faster when you're laughing.
I don't believe I've met a Wodehouse story I didn't like. This one is hilarious and Jonathan Cecil is fabulous! His impersonation of Aunt Dahlia is a thing of beauty.
I'm a country potter, gardener, flute player and tin tinker living with my husband, an electrical engineer & cabinet maker.
Loved the films on TV but the book is super. In watching the program the characters might wink or hiss but in the book the full expression of the emotion or reaction is sketched in detail. In hilarious detail. I very much enjoyed this book.
This was my first Jeeves and Wooster paperback long, long ago. Hearing it now from audible brought it all back and got me started on working my way through the whole series. Jonathan Cecil is a really good reader, too (even if you have Hugh Laurie & Stephen Fry's voices set in your mind from the TV episodes). My vision-impaired father agrees that Cecil's reading is what makes these books just great. BTW - Wikipedia has a complete listing of the whole series in chronological order under the "Jeeves" heading. Try to get the books read by Cecil whenever possible - they are still releasing random titles read by him as of this writing.
I love Wodehouse anyway I can get it. This was a good performance and good story. Will listen to it again.
very short atte..
What I like best, about any of the Jeeves and Wooster books, is the formula. Young wealthy people with no real problems and no common sense, toddle about in mansions, or steam-liners, or gentleman's clubs in lust, greed, or general confusion. Then Jeeves fixes everything. It is all fluff.
Absolutely. I've read all of Wodehouse's works and, although they are great in book form, they are even better in audiobook format. This is especially true with Jonathan Cecil as narrator. His character presentations are impeccable.
As is the case in many Wodehouse books it takes a little while to set everything up. Then, once all the pieces are in place, it is one riotous encounter after another. I won't ruin any of the specific moments, but even after having read the book and knowing generally what was coming, I had tears pouring out of my eyes I was laughing so hard at times!
Aunt Dahlia is classic, but they are all phenomenal.
The Code of the Woosters and its immediate predecessor Right Ho, Jeeves are two of my absolute favorite of Wodehouse.
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