“My Man Jeeves”
Book Review

“Jeeves is my man, you know. Officially he pulls in his weekly wages for pressing my clothes and all that sort of thing; but actually he’s more like what the poet Johnnie called some bird of his acquaintance who was apt to rally round him in times of need—a guide, don’t you know; philosopher, if I remember rightly, and—I rather fancy—friend. I rely on him at every turn.”
– P. G. Wodehouse

I didn’t know what to expect from My Man Jeeves. I’d heard that author P. G. Wodehouse was funny; that’s it.

My Man Jeeves - Book review {lisanotes.com}

So what I got was a surprise.

For starters, My Man Jeeves isn’t just one fictional story; it’s a collection of short stories. Secondly, it’s not all about Jeeves—the wise valet (think Mr. Hughes, you Downton fans; or Ask Jeeves, the internet search engine) to Bertie Wooster—but also includes stories about other unrelated characters. And thirdly, it is definitely British (to this American anyway).

I liked it; I recommend it. I already put it on Jeff’s Kindle because I think he’ll appreciate the light-hearted stories and the style of wit, too, even though he, like me, may not always understand the terminology.

An interesting sidenote: My Man Jeeves was published as a book in 1919 in the UK, but all the short stories were first published in periodicals both in the US (The Saturday Evening Post) and in the UK (Strand).

Here’s a sampling of Wodehouse’s writing style from My Man Jeeves. Enjoy.

“She fitted into my biggest arm-chair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing arm-chairs tight about the hips that season.”

“I didn’t ask for details. Women with hair and chins like Mary’s may be angels most of the time, but, when they take off their wings for a bit, they aren’t half-hearted about it.”

“I was stunned by the man’s resource. ‘It’s brain,’ I said; ‘pure brain! What do you do to get like that, Jeeves? I believe you must eat a lot of fish, or something. Do you eat a lot of fish, Jeeves?’
‘No, sir.’
‘Oh, well, then, it’s just a gift, I take it; and if you aren’t born that way there’s no use worrying.’
‘Precisely, sir,’ said Jeeves. ‘If I might make the suggestion, sir, I should not continue to wear your present tie. The green shade gives you a slightly bilious air. I should strongly advocate the blue with the red domino pattern instead, sir.’
‘All right, Jeeves.’ I said humbly. ‘You know!’”

* * *

This book fits neatly into two of my 2014 Reading Challenges (yay!):

Have you ever read any of Wodehouse’s works? What did you think?




14 thoughts on ““My Man Jeeves”
Book Review

  1. floyd

    Funny, all those years of calling people “Jeeves” in jest, I never knew where the term came from… I don’t know when, but one of these days I’m gonna read that book! I love that type of prose!

  2. Beverley

    Just finished Very Good Jeeves, which i read purely from the point of, ‘I’ve never read one of those so i think i should.’ I enjoyed it, but i wouldn’t say i understood all the wit and i am definitely British.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Well if even you don’t get all the British wit, Beverley, I sure won’t feel bad that I didn’t. 🙂 It wasn’t enough to distract from my enjoyment though.

  3. Beth

    I’m a fan of Downton but I have so many non-fiction books I need and want to read that fiction never crosses my radar, Lisa! One of these days I’ll slow down enough for a good novel or book of short stories. 🙂

    I prayed for you and your family last week. I hope all went well for your FIL. I continue to lift him up daily.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I understand, Beth. Non-fiction is always my first love too; I have to remember to add in novels for variety because otherwise I’d not pick one up. I do enjoy them once I start, but it’s just not always on my radar.

      I appreciate you lifting up my f-i-l. It’s getting close to 24 hours since he had heart surgery so we’re seeing a little progress, but not much yet, which is to be expected.

  4. PL

    I love Wodehouse. I think when I was a teenager I must have read them all. Our son’s school’s headmaster (v religious) is also a big fan. No smut! No “issues”!

    He’s just as inventive with narrative structure and form as he is with the gags. A writer’s writer.

    Yes, it was all invented for the US market. Like the Scottish tartan kilt thing, a representation that has come home to roost.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      So when I get ready to read more Wodehouse, I’ll come to you for a recommendation. My husband has started reading My Man Jeeves himself and he’s not a big reader.

  5. Julie @ Smiling Shelves

    The fact that this book was short stories and that some were about another character definitely surprised me, too. I also read Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen this month, which is the last book in the Jeeves series. It was all one novel, so Wodehouse must have varied his style.

    That quote about the armchair had me laughing out loud when I read it. I’m glad you enjoyed it, too!

    1. Lisa

      I liked the short stories because I could read one then close the book (well, turn off my Kindle) and start fresh the next day. But overall I think I’d prefer the whole novel approach, so thanks for sharing about “Aunt…” Wodehouse is still very new to me.

  6. bekahcubed

    I just love Wodehouse’s commentary – and especially like how he describes Wooster and Jeeve’s little tiffs about some article or other of Wooster’s wardrobe. The bit about the mustache in one of the short stories pretty much put me over the edge to laughing out loud.

    1. Lisa

      I know; I should probably listen to an audiobook of Wodehouse because in those descriptions, I could almost hear the British accent which made it even better. 🙂

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