173–178: The Inimitable Jeeves; The Castle of Adventure; Carry On, Jeeves; The Sea of Adventure; Journey to the River Sea; and Jeeves in the Offing

I have said before, and it continues to be the case, that I regard myself as being on something of a sacred mission to spread the Good News of Wodehouse’s non-Wooster work. It’s very important to note that that’s not because I don’t love them. I do. Jeeves and Wooster are glorious comic creations. I’m just don’t think they’re Wodehouse’s absolute best, and I’m very keen that people should look beyond them as well.

The Inimitable Jeeves is the first book, in which a number of previously-published short stories were stitched together into an episodic novel. Carry On, Jeeves, the second book, is much more a classic collection of short stories, of which the first is the excellent “Jeeves Takes Charge”, recounting the first appearance of the silent-footed brainbox into Bertie’s life. It also concludes with the only story narrated by Jeeves, “Bertie Changes His Mind”. Jeeves in the Offing is a much later work (1960, whereas the first two come from the 1920s), and is most notable (and wonderful) for its treatment of Sir Roderick Glossop. It is also a full-service novel, unlike the others.

Bertie, like Psmith, is an incorrigible dandy. “Personally, if anyone had told me a tie like that suited me, I should have risen and struck them on the mazzard, regardless of their age and sex,” he says in The Inimitable Jeeves, and in Carry On, Jeeves catalogues his evening clothes for the benefit of a friend whose preferences are less rigid:

“Jeeves,” I said coldly. “How many suits of evening clothes have we?”

“We have three suits of full evening dress, sir; two dinner jackets –”


“For practical purposes two only, sir. If you remember, we cannot wear the third. We also have seven white waistcoats.”

“And shirts?”

“Four dozen, sir.”

“And white ties?”

“The first two shallow shelves in the chest of drawers are completely filled with our white ties, sir.”

It is interesting that the way he chooses to drive home, in “Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg”, how “pipped” he was is to tell us that he “as near as a toucher put on a white tie with a dinner-jacket.” Here he and his valet are two hearts that beat as one, with the caveat that Bertie is often slightly more experimental, regarding Jeeves as something of a hidebound traditionalist – “prejudiced and reactionary” – especially in the eveningwear department, where at various points he expresses disapproval of a red cummerbund (“The effect, sir, is loud in the extreme”), a white mess jacket (“accidentally” ruined whilst ironing), and soft silk shirts (“‘At Le Touquet the Prince of Wales buzzed into the Casino one night with soft silk shirt complete.’ ‘His Royal Highness, sir, may permit himself a certain licence which in your own case –’”).

Absolutely not to be missed, justly famous, and yet apt to pinch a bit of the limelight that should, perhaps, be spread rather more liberally over the Wodehouse canon. That’s all I’m saying.

Interspersed with the Jeeves and Wooster, I indulged in a bit of adventure writing – Blyton’s Castle of Adventure and Sea of Adventure, in that order. This eight-book series, of which the two just named are numbers two and four, takes a new cast of characters: two sets of siblings (Philip and Dinah Mannering and Jack and Lucy-Ann Trent), all looked after by Philip and Dinah’s mother. (The other three parents are dead before the series begins.) The stories are particularly notable in that they feature the enigmatic Bill Smugs (real name Bill Cunningham), a half-bald secret agent of some description, whose presence lends the four’s adventures an imprimatur of officiality not to be found in the Famous Five or Secret Seven books. It represents a nice change of pace.

I also had a quick browse of Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea, possibly her most famous effort. Having already read The Star of Kazan, I wasn’t so struck this time by the contrast with her adult writing in A Song for Summer. This one is another excellent book.

The Inimitable Jeeves
Author PG Wodehouse
Published 1924
Pages 218
Best line “We Woosters do not lightly forget. At least, we do – some things – appointments, and people’s birthdays, and letters to post, and all that – but not an absolute bally insult like the above.”
Best character Bingo Little.

The Castle of Adventure
Author Enid Blyton
Published 1946
Pages 184
Best character Mrs Mannering.

Carry On, Jeeves
Author PG Wodehouse
Published 1925
Pages 227
Best character “Bicky” Bickersteth.

The Sea of Adventure
Author Enid Blyton
Published 1948
Pages 186
Best character Bill Smugs.

Journey to the River Sea
Author Eva Ibbotson
Published 2001
Pages 296
Best character Clovis.

Jeeves in the Offing
Author PG Wodehouse
Published 1960
Pages 170
Best character Sir Roderick Glossop.


7 thoughts on “173–178: The Inimitable Jeeves; The Castle of Adventure; Carry On, Jeeves; The Sea of Adventure; Journey to the River Sea; and Jeeves in the Offing

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