This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Jeeves in the Offing
Series: Jeeves Omnibus #4.2
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
An old friend Bertie went to preparatory school with, Reginald “Kipper” Herring, is staying with Bertie for a week. Bertie eagerly accepts an invitation from his aunt, Aunt Dahlia, to her home, Brinkley Court, since Jeeves is about to go to Herne Bay on holiday. Aunt Dahlia’s husband, Bertie’s Uncle Tom, is trying to make a business deal with an American named Homer Cream. While the two of them are in Harrogate, Mr. Cream’s wife Adela Cream, an author of mystery stories, and their son Wilbert Cream are staying at Brinkley Court. The mischievous Roberta “Bobbie” Wickham, and Aubrey Upjohn, who was once Bertie and Kipper’s oppressive headmaster, will also be there, along with Phyllis Mills. She is Upjohn’s stepdaughter and Aunt Dahlia’s goddaughter. Upjohn hopes to stand for a local election after giving a speech at the Market Snodsbury grammar school, and Phyllis is typing his speech.
Before going to Brinkley Court, Bertie learns that Kipper, who works for a weekly paper and is vengeful towards Upjohn, wrote a scathing, anonymous review of Upjohn’s recently published book. Jeeves tells Bertie that Willie Cream is a notorious troublemaking playboy known as “Broadway Willie”. After Jeeves leaves, Bertie sees a jarring announcement in The Times stating that he is engaged to Bobbie.
At Brinkley Court, Bertie finds Wilbert Cream reading poetry to Phyllis. He then finds Bobbie, who assures him that the engagement announcement was merely to scare her mother, who dislikes Bertie, into approving the man Bobbie really wants to marry, Reginald Herring.
While her regular butler Seppings is away on holiday, the psychiatrist Sir Roderick Glossop is working undercover for Aunt Dahlia as a butler named Swordfish. Upjohn is urging his daughter Phyllis to marry Wilbert. Aunt Dahlia does not approve of Willie’s reputation, so at her behest, Glossop is there to observe Wilbert’s behaviour. Bertie tries to keep Wilbert away from Phyllis. By letter, Jeeves informs Bertie that Willie Cream is a kleptomaniac. Uncle Tom’s silver cow-creamer goes missing.
While Bobbie is away, Kipper comes to Brinkley Court. He was engaged to Bobbie, but thinks it is over after seeing the marriage announcement for Bertie and Bobbie. He is relieved when Bertie tells him the announcement was fake. Glossop searches Wilbert Cream’s room for the cow-creamer, and bonds with Bertie. Bobbie ends her engagement to Kipper after reading an angry letter he wrote when he first saw the marriage announcement, and proclaims she will marry Bertie. Bertie does not want to marry her, but is prevented by his personal code from turning down any woman, so he drives to Herne Bay to get help from Jeeves. Jeeves agrees to return to Brinkley with Bertie. Bobbie soon forgives Kipper’s letter, but Kipper, to spite Bobbie, becomes engaged to Phyllis.
Aunt Dahlia tells Bertie that Wilbert Cream did not steal the cow-creamer. Uncle Tom sold it to him. Meanwhile, Upjohn intends to sue Kipper’s paper for libel. While his review was mostly legitimate, a small libellous portion was secretly added by Bobbie. Apologetic, Bobbie reconciles with Kipper. Glossop suggests that Kipper save his job by rescuing Upjohn from drowning. After Bertie and Bobbie fail to push Upjohn in the nearby lake, Bertie and Phyllis’s dog Poppet fall in instead. Kipper dives in to help Bertie, mistaking him for Upjohn, and Wilbert dives in to help Phyllis’s dog Poppet. Moved, Phyllis gets engaged to Wilbert. This initially upsets Aunt Dahlia, though it turns out that Wilbert is not actually the infamous Broadway Willie: that is his younger brother, Wilfred.
Upjohn becomes aware that Kipper wrote the scathing review and refuses to stay in the same house. Jeeves packs for Upjohn, neglecting to pack Upjohn’s typed speech. After receiving the typescript from Jeeves, Bobbie makes Upjohn withdraw his libel suit before she returns it to him.
Thinking Wilbert stole it, Glossop confiscated the cow-creamer. Adela Cream finds the cow-creamer in Glossop’s room and thinks he stole it. To prevent a misunderstanding, Glossop has revealed his true occupation. Following Jeeves’s advice, Glossop has claimed he had been brought to observe Bertie and had recovered the cow-creamer from Bertie’s room. Bertie is upset that the Cream family thinks he is a kleptomaniac, but Jeeves placates Bertie by saying that he has the satisfaction of helping his uncle. Bertie, remembering receiving gifts from Uncle Tom while at prep school, replies, “How right you are, Jeeves!”
By this time I have begun to realize that most stories about Jeeves and Wooster follow a loose pattern. Bertie gets ensnared into some imbroglio or other. He makes the situation worse by trying to solve it himself. He asks Jeeves for help. Jeeves apparently makes things worse but in the end reveals that that was just a part of his machinations and everything turns out according to plan.
Sure enough, this had most of those elements. Jeeves plays a VERY small part in this novel while Bertie tries to solve things on his own multiple times (usually he learns after one disastrous attempt) and of course, his attempts are huge failures.
In most of these stories by Wodehouse I tend to find at least one character very annoying. Sometimes it is Bertie Wooster, sometimes it is one of his friends, sometimes it is one of the love interests of his friends and sometimes it is the “villain” of the story. This time around it was the love interest Roberta “Bobby” Wickham. I wanted to take her over my knee and just paddle her for the absolute nonsense she spouted and completely idiotic actions she took. I considered knocking this down to a 3star just because of her, she really annoyed me that much.
Other than her, I enjoyed this quite a bit. I’d read this back in ’07 but honestly, I don’t remember reading it or any of the details so it was like I read it for the first time all over again. Apparently I also enjoyed it a lot more this time around, as last time I only gave it 2 stars. I’m guessing I had even less empathy for Bobby Wickham back then 😀