Narrator: Jonathan Cecil
Length: 6 hrs 50 mins
Publisher: Audible Studios
Audible release: 2012
One nice thing about Jeeves and Wooster books is that listening to them never feels like a life long commitment. Jonathan Cecil despatches ‘Very good Jeeves’ in a mere six hours fifty minutes. I listened at 1.8 times speed in the audible app and got through the entire thing in just under 5 relaxing baths. Too many authors seem to feel that they haven’t done a decent days work if they produce anything less than at least 20 hours of solid listening. Value for money, perhaps, but quite a commitment on the bathing front.
I was under the impression that I was listening to the fourth book in the Jeeves and Wooster cannon. However, in the first of what I seem to remember being a number of funny author prologues, Mr Wodehouse disagrees with me. It would seem that, in his mind at least, The series starts with ‘The inimitable Jeeves’. I could argue the point, but it seems like a good call.
So, ’Very good Jeeves’ is the third collection of hilariously funny stories focussed entirely on the antics of Bertie Wooster and his valet, Jeeves. They feel like the fireside reminiscences of an amiable idiot. I listened to them over what has been an ice cold weekend that ended in the first fall of snow that we’ve had for a couple of years. The news is full of the latest GPT3 chatbot that’s coming for all our jobs mixed with tales of destitution brought on by the latest cost of living crisis. All this meant I was in the mood for cosy comedy, and that’s what I got.
My favourite thing in all of these stories is Wodehouse’s turn of phrase. He has got Bertie’s voice just right, and Cecil was born for the role. As I listened it really felt like Bertie was speaking directly too me.
If I had a criticism of some of the earlier stories, it would be that Jeeves was a bit too presumptuous. He didn’t quite hit the right note of being wholly survive and yet wholly in charge at the same time. In these stories the balance is spot on, right down to the way he ever so tactfully expresses his opinion of Bertie’s portrait in ‘The spot of art’ and on the vase Bertie accidentally bought in ‘The inferiority complex of old Sippy’.
There isn’t one of these stories that I wouldn’t listen to again. It is yet another great collection that is thoroughly worth your time. And as Wodehouse says in his introduction, though you could listen to it on its own, you wouldn’t lose if you got stuck into ‘The inimitable Jeeves’ and ‘Carry on Jeeves’ as well.