I came across this be googling ‘funny novels’. It was on the top of the list.
I would normally call it a flaw to say that a book needed research to read, but in this case I really should have looked into what I was getting myself into. Right Ho Jeeves is a middle novel in a very, very long running series about a man and his valet, the titular Jeeves.
I think that is all I really want to say about the book itself. I think the rest of my impressions of it were blinded by a certain cultural blindness to certain things from the UK. The notion of Butlers and valets is so alien to me that I initially had a hard time placing the book in a historic context. It was only when the characters practically teleported from England to the French riviera that I considered the possibility that the story may have a contemporary setting. I was until that point reading this as if it were more a contemporary of Le Nozze di Figaro. The notion that there were people of my grandparents generation that had personal servants seems bizarre, but I guess I am just unaware of these things.
The rest of the confusion came from picking up a book in the middle of the series. At the opening of this novel I was very confused as to what the hell was going on. Who the absolute fuck was this Jeeves, and why were people coming from across the hemisphere for his counsel? And if this Jeeves was damn wise and helpful to all these other people, why was he still wasting his time being this guys valet when he should clearly go into private enterprise?
That may be the most American sentence I have ever uttered.
I was kind of reminded of Terry Pratchett in some way. Pratchett, in my opinion a much better writer, had a way of writing novels so that even if they were in the middle of a series one didn’t feel lost. I read Feet of Clay with little introduction to the reoccurring characters and never felt lost.
At some point I did get the swing of the characters and the time period, and it was really only then that I started enjoying the novel. Not so much in a hilariously gut busting way, but in a way that would occasionally make me smile. I actually became interested in what was going on with this story. By the time I hit the end of this I was pretty happy to be going, and the story didn’t disappoint all that much either.
I’ll actually be happy to keep going with the Jeeves books, although I feel like it may do to read them in order.