Jeeves in the Offing

August 17, 2011

The daily drizzle has ceased. The sun is shining. There are no papers to grade. So what season of the year brings these delights? Why summer, of course, and that means it’s time once again to settle down with another installment of Bertie and Jeeves.

All of this delightfully “shallow” reading has been coordinated with two glorious trips. The long drive in July from Portland to Ashland (via Bend, the Newberry Caldera, and Crater Lake) was embellished with a thoroughly enjoyable book-on-CD version of Jeeves Takes Charge. Then, in anticipation of last week’s trip to Manzanita, my wife checked out Jeeves in the Offing for me from the local library (she had forgotten that I have the entire Jeeves compendium sitting on my shelf in my office, but no matter, a slimmer volume makes better company).

Jeeves Takes Charge borrows its name from one of the short stories in this collection. We learn how Bertram Wooster, suffering from a hangover and lacking the services of a valet, hired Jeeves and learned to accept his lot under this enlightened and thoroughly benevolent dictator. As Jeeves puts it, “I endeavor to give satisfaction.” If only every dictator in human history had operated on this basis, what a paradise this would be!

Jeeves in the Offing is a much later work from 1960 and Jeeves spends most of it on holiday outside the story. Still, the fish-enhanced man-of-few-words is up to the task in front of him and handles all predicaments with ease. The chief p. facing Bertie and his friends involves the union of young two couples, Kipper Herring + Roberta Wickham and Wilbert Cream + Priscilla Mills (I suppose there is a distant echo of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and all ends well, of course. More unexpected is the unexpectedly matey friendship that appears between Bertie and his long-time nemesis, Sir Roderick Glossop!

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