Debra has written a great review on P.G. Wodehouse’s “Code of the Woosters”!
Welcome to the world of Bertie Wooster – where friends are known as “good eggs”, where aunts, (in particular, Wooster’s), shove their nephews into scrapes for purposes that never quite work out, but which their valets, (in particular, Wooster’s), get them out of. Through the pages of Wodehouse’s books I have enjoyed time and again the misadventures in this unique environment. The Code of the Woosters especially is one of my favorite gateways to the Wooster world. I can’t recall how many times I have “relived” poor Bertie’s troubles in this unforgettable British adventure.
This tale is told from the point of view of Bertie Wooster. Bertie is a lazy, clueless person whose character in one way relates to that of Winnie-the-Pooh (Bertie is a “bachelor” of very little brain). His valet, the intellectual Jeeves, only emphasizes the feeblemindedness of Bertie. This passage from the book where Wooster is asking Sir Watkyn if he can marry Watkyn’s daughter helps paint a picture of Bertie’s rather one-of-a-kind personality:
“Have you ever thought about love, Sir Watkyn? …I wonder if you have noticed a very rummy thing about it…You can’t get away from it. Love, I mean. Wherever you go, there it is, buzzing along in every class of live. Quite remarkable. Take newts, for instance.”
“Are you quite well, Mr. Wooster?”
However, Bertie does know how to tell a good story, and his descriptions of the characters of both Bertie’s friends and enemies are very amusing.
“I remember Mrs. Bingo Little telling me…that Bingo said poetic things to her about sunsets-his best friends being perfectly aware, of course, that the old egg never noticed a sunset in his life and that, if he did…the only thing he would say about it would be that it reminded him of a slice of roast beef, cooked just right.” Classic.
Typical of Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters is a fun-filled story with a wild plot that contains multiple twists, sub-plots and sub-sub-plots. In an attempt to avoid confusion by the reader, this review will only list a few of the sub-plots.
In order to keep himself from falling prey to the same fate, Bertie has to work hard to keep loopy, newt-crazy Gussie Finknottle engaged to wishy-washy Madeline Basset. It ain’t easy! The formidable Sir Watkyn and a certain notebook chock-full of insults prove difficult obstacles.
In the meantime, pushy Aunt Dahlia blackmails Bertie into stealing a cow creamer. The devious Stiffy gets Bertie to try to trick her father into approving her fiancé, Sir Watkyn concerns himself with stealing a cook for his establishment, and Spode-of-the-one-track- mind seeks revenge on Finknottle. I’ll leave it at that, but how could anyone resist reading a story with an extreme plot like that?
Wooster’s tale includes vast quantities of blackmail, burglary, unwelcome engagements, and what Aunt Dahlia calls “underhanded skullduggery”. (Yes, this book does include engagements, but I am so thankful to say that the romances in Wodehouse’s books are kept firmly in the background, and this book also happily contains NO MUSHY STUFF. Three cheers for Wodehouse!!!) The characters are also so well-suited to the plot, and the contrasts between the various life-like characters in this book are quite comical!
The Code of the Woosters is a story that is unfortunately missed by a great many people. But it is also a story that should not be missed (at least by anyone with half a sense of humor)! Fresh hilarity, unique characters, and an element of suspense all merge to make this novel no less than exceptional!
Read The Code of the Woosters – you won’t regret it.
(Debra is a college student majoring in public policy.)