Jeeves and the King of Clubs: A Novel in Homage to P.G. Wodehouse

Image of Jeeves and the King of Clubs: A Novel in Homage to P.G. Wodehouse
Release Date: 
November 6, 2018
Little, Brown & Company
Reviewed by: 

Jeeves and the King of Clubs is an experience not to be missed, a rollicking satire of stiff upper lips and gentlemanly capers in which even the title is a play on words.”

Young Master Bertie Wooster has just returned from Monte Carlo—“Only so much baccarat to play, only so many promenades to toe”—when he and his gentleman’s personal gentleman, Jeeves, are enlisted by Lord McAuslan, Jeeves’ former employer.

Seems a certain nobleman named Sidcup, an aspiring fascist, is suspected of helping countries that are enemies of Britain and receiving funds from those same countries.  Since the time is post-World War One and pre-WW2, McAuslan would like Bertie and Jeeves to keep an eye on said nobleman for Her Majesty’s government.

Bertie’s free for the moment, because his club the Drones, is closed for the summer. Since Jeeves’ club, the Junior Ganymede, is an establishment where one may find information, good, bad, or indifferent, on any gentleman who hires a personal staff, the two are ready-made for the job.

“Knowing what you don’t know is a form of knowledge, and very different from the ignorance of not knowing what you don’t know. The Junior Ganymede is as concerned  with unearthing questions as supplying answers.”

Bertie soon finds his assignment complicated by several factors, including loaning money to a friend to buy a gift for a young lady of whom he’s enamored, the young lady being one of Bertie’s many former fiancées; obtaining a first class review for the opening of a play for the same former fiancée (by promising the critic membership in his club); and the intervention of his Aunt Dahlia who has decided to invent a Worcestershire sauce that will rival Lea & Perrins and insists Bertie help her in her scheme.

Learning Lord Sidcup will be at his aunt’s that weekend, Bertie’s only too glad to oblige.

“Of all the aunts that grip for dear life to the Wooster family tree, Aunt Dahlia is very much the cream of the crop, not simply a good egg, but an egg that, more often than not, emerges from the frying pan sunny side up.”

This adventure doesn’t turn out as expected but it does afford Bertie the chance to sabotage a bit of campaigning to “Make Britain Better” by Lord Sidcup and his Black Shorts, those “knobby-kneed misfits who follow him around saluting like marionettes.” Bertie manages this in his own unique style, assisted by a herd of swine and the Worcester Full Regimental marching band.  

This is between masquerading as Aunt Dahlia’s chef Anatole, and meeting Lord McAuslan’s niece Iona, a bit of a dazzler who has a sense of humor and adventure pretty close to Bertie’s own.

With all Bertie has going on, one might think he wouldn’t be able to complete this assignment for His Lordship, but in the inimitable Wooster style, he manages to do exactly that, throwing into the mix a finalizing several betrothals, placing a winning bet on the races at Kempton Park, and including a hair-raising taxi chase across London that would’ve made the Keystone Kops proud.

It’s enough to “get the old ticker beating a tarantella,” but after all—getting there is half the fun.

This novel, authorized by the Woodhouse estate, is called an homage to the author known affectionately as “Plum,” and it doesn’t fall far from the mark in its style and content. From the very first page until the final one, Mr. Schott’s method of composition mirrors the original, employing both madcap adventure and the wordplay that is characteristic of Wodehouse novels.

The Jeeves fan will marvel at how close author Schott’s style mirrors the original.

Even those readers who may not be familiar with the characters of “Young Mawster” Bertie Wooster and his gentleman’s personal gentleman, will certainly recognize the name  “Jeeves,” as that most commonly and erroneously assign it to a butler instead of a valet.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

The Endnotes following the novel carries the statement that the Oxford English Dictionary features 1,525 P. G. Wodehouse quotations. For the reader’s edification, included in this section is a list of 26 words for which Wodehouse is credited “first quotation,” as well as annotations for many places, phrases, and events mentioned in the story.

Jeeves and the King of Clubs is an experience not to be missed, a rollicking satire of stiff upper lips and gentlemanly capers in which even the title is a play on words.