When Bertie Wooster goes to Totleigh Towers to pour oil on the troubled waters of a lovers’ breach between Madeline Bassett and Gussie Fink-Nottle, he isn’t expecting to see Aunt Dahlia there – nor to be instructed by her to steal some silver. But purloining the antique cow creamer from under the baleful nose of Sir Watkyn Bassett is the least of Bertie’s tasks. He has to restore true love to both Madeline and Gussie and to the Revd ‘Stinker’ Pinker and Stiffy Byng – and confound the insane ambitions of would-be Dictator Roderick Spode and his Black Shorts. It’s a situation that only Jeeves can unravel. Writing at the very height of his powers, in The Code of the Woosters, P.G. Wodehouse delivers what might be the most delightfully funny book ever committed to paper.
It’s been a long time since I last picked up one of Wodehouse’s books and within a few pages, it reinforced the idea that it was a terribly long overdue decision that needed putting right. Coming across the word hornswoggle was the icing on the cake.
It was a silver cow, but when I say ‘cow’, don’t go running away with the idea of some decent, self-respecting cudster such as you may observe loading grass into itself in the nearest meadow. This was a sinister, learing, Underworld sort of animal, the kind that would spit out of the side of its mouth for two pence.
Wodehouse’s uniquely written style is just brilliant, the language is the best part of the book, which is saying a lot as the book is an exceedingly witty study in comedy. This offsets the characters, who don’t have much depth but that is fine as it is all about the elaborate plotting. The phrasing of each sentence is a delight, and raised many a smile with the whimsical nature with which it presents itself. Perhaps it is a bit stereotypical of Englishness but that is also one of the novel’s many charms.