Sonderbooks Stand-out

Sonderbooks Book Review of

Thank You, Jeeves

by P. G. Wodehouse
performed by Alexander Spencer

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Thank You, Jeeves

by P. G. Wodehouse
performed by Alexander Spencer

Reviewed September 3, 2008.
Recorded Books, 1984. Originally published in 1934. 6 compact discs, 6 hours.
Starred Review.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2008: Audiobooks, #7

I've decided that the ultimate audiobook for a long drive is anything by P. G. Wodehouse, read by someone like Alexander Spencer, with an exquisite English accent. When you're laughing out loud, you can't possibly fall asleep at the wheel.

I think of P. G. Wodehouse as the Seinfeld of 1930's England. The rich young gentlemen get into elaborately entangled comic situations, which all come together for a big laugh in the end.

In Thank You, Jeeves, Bertie Wooster actually accepts Jeeves' resignation. Bertie is dedicating himself to playing the banjolele, and Jeeves cannot tolerate it. However, they both end up in Chuffnall Regis, where Bertie's old school friend, Chuffy (Lord Chuffnall), is falling in love with Pauline Stoker, a millionaire's daughter who was once engaged to Bertie.

In the mess that results, involving captivity on a yacht, sleeping in sheds, a chase with a chopper, a cottage on fire, black-faced minstrels, and the temptations of kippered herring, only Jeeves has the brain capable of sorting things out and orchestrating a happy ending for everyone.

While I was in the middle of listening to this book, I found myself thinking about heliotrope pajamas. You see, Bertie finds Pauline Stoker in his bed, wearing his heliotrope pajamas, and finds her quite fetching. Doesn't the phrase "heliotrope pajamas" have a ring to it? (All the more so when you've been listening to it rather than merely reading it. I found myself saying the phrase over to myself.)

I mused, "I wonder what color exactly are heliotrope pajamas?" Well, my son heard me, and looked up heliotrope on Wikipedia. He showed me exactly the shade. (I pretty much had it right, for the record!) But he looked at the references to "Heliotrope in popular culture" and was surprised to find exactly the scene I had mentioned: "In Thank You, Jeeves, Bertie Wooster returns home to find Pauline Stoker in his heliotrope pajamas after swimming ashore from her father's yacht."

So you see, not only can you get lots of laughs, you can also learn the full story of the legendary heliotrope pajamas of Bertie Wooster.