P. G. Wodehouse is a name that has lingered in the back of my mind through the years yet I never picked up a single book of his until last year. I wonder if anyone else is in the same boat? Wodehouse is usually credited with being the most popular English humourist of all time and he has a legion of fans both in this country and abroad so I did feel a little embarassed at not having read any Wodehouse all these years. I hadn't even seen the Jeeves and Wooster television series until a couple of years ago! Crikey!
It was, in fact, the television series that got me into reading my first Wodehouse. Stephen Fry (Jeeves) and Hugh Laurie (Wooster) were superb and thoroughly entertaining and I loved the banter between the two. I watched the whole series over Christmas with friends (what a jolly way to spend it!) and simply breathed in the jazzy notes of the theme-tune and the set pieces and costumes of the thirties. I even managed to get my hands on the very rare soundtrack, which in itself is hilarious, and features may songs of the era sung by the multi-talented Hugh Laurie.
Well, what was my first choice when a year later a Wodehouse book finally caught my eye? Sadly, the excellent television series spoilt the Jeeves and Wooster stories for me as - upon checking out Wikipedia et al - I discovered that the series took heavily from the initial books. The plots were still fresh in my mind and I confess that all the constant engagements and dis-engagements in the series grated after a while. Indeed, a lot of the plots seemed to usually revolve around someone getting engaged to the wrong person (a lot of the time Wooster) and then trying to comically get themselves out of it. So when in a bookshop, I spied the freshly printed covers of a line of Wodehouse novels published by Arrow Books, I was inspired to read him. The cover and plot of The Adventures of Sally took my fancy and seemed to promise a light and cheerful read. This is a standalone novel and I was charmed in the initial parts of the book and then the famous Wodehousian complications took off. I enjoyed it and have since read another stand-alone Wodehouse entitled Quick Service, which was also fun.
I have a teeny tiny collection of Wodehouse (pictured left) and have tried to read the first short stories about Jeeves and Wooster without success, as I know how the stories will end. Perhaps I need to give it more time? Wodehouse was immensely prolific and created various worlds and recurring characters, as well as several stand-alone novels. The worlds of Psmith, Blandings, Ukridge as well as Jeeves are revered in many circles and I feel the need to enter them and experience the magic that so many others speak of. I confess that the TV series and books I read have not delivered entirely to this degree but they have been pleasant. I keep thinking that I'm missing something and that I should read on... Anyone else feel this way or still having to really get into Wodehouse? To date, I consider E. F. Benson to be my favourite English humourist and I took to his Mapp and Lucia novels instantly. I feel that I have to work a little with Wodehouse as so many of the plots I've picked up for perusal have revolved around couples in love trying to get married or get out of the wrong engagement. What say you?