Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse read by Jonathan Cecil

Knotted locks and knitted socks…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Bertie isn’t keen on visiting Steeple Bumpleigh, home to Aunt Agatha, the most terrifying of his aunts. But Jeeves is keen to do a spot of fishing and Uncle Percy needs Jeeves’ help in finding a way to pull off a big business deal, so Bertie gives in gracefully. After all, Aunt Agatha is off elsewhere on a visit, ex-fiancée Florence Craye can be no threat to his bachelorhood now that she’s engaged to D’Arcy “Stilton” Cheesewright, and while his young cousin Edwin is always a pestilence, how much harm could one Boy Scout possibly do? But when Florence and Stilton fall out over Stilton’s insistence on being the village policeman and Edwin burns down Bertie’s cottage whilst doing his daily act of kindness, things take a sinister turn. Meantime Uncle Percy is refusing to allow his ward Nobby Hopwood to marry the light of her life, Boko Fittleworth. Even for Jeeves, it will be a tall order to set everything right…

….Florence was obviously in the grip of some powerful emotion. She quivered gently, as if in the early stages of palsy, and her face, as far as I could gather from the sketchy view I was able to obtain of it, was pale and set, like the white of a hard-boiled egg.
….“D’Arcy Cheesewright,” she said, getting right off the mark without so much as a preliminary ‘What ho, there’, “is an obstinate, mulish, pig-headed, overbearing, unimaginative, tyrannical jack-in-office!”
….Her words froze me to the core. I was conscious of a sense of frightful peril. Owing to young Edwin’s infernal officiousness, this pancake had been in receipt only a few hours earlier of a handsome diamond brooch, ostensibly a present from Bertram W., and now, right on top of it, she had had a falling out with Stilton, so substantial that it took her six distinct adjectives to describe him. When a girl uses six derogatory adjectives in her attempt to paint the portrait of the loved one, it means something. One may indicate a merely temporary tiff. Six is big stuff.

All the Jeeves and Wooster books have fundamentally the same plot, which is part of their charm but doesn’t make it easy to find new things to say in reviews! This is a particular favourite of mine, partly because I like Florence as one of Bertie’s recurring girlfriends – she’s not as drippy as Madeline nor as haughty as Honoria, and I often felt she would have been a serious contender in the matrimonial stakes had it not been for her desire to improve poor Bertie’s mind by forcing him to read highbrow literature. Bertie, as we know, prefers to relax with the latest murder mystery. Edwin and his acts of kindness bring trauma and despair to all his unwilling victims and much hilarity to the reader.

….“Oh, hullo, Bertie” he said, grinning all over his loathsome face.
….“Hullo, you frightful young squirt,” I responded civilly. “What are you doing here?”
….“Tidying up.”
….I touched on a point of absorbing interest.
….“Was it you who left that bally pail there?”
….“Where?”
….“In the middle of the hall.”
….“Coo! Yes, I remember now. I put it there to be out of the way.”
….“I see. Well, you’ll be amused to learn that I’ve nearly broken my leg.”
….He started. A fanatic gleam came into his eyes. He looked like a boy confronted with an unexpected saucer of ice cream.
….“I say! Have you really? This is a bit of bunce. I can give you first aid.”

The other thing I love is that this is the one in which Shakespeare’s fretful porpentine is a running joke. Some of you may have been fooled by my occasional use of quotes from Shakespeare, the great poets and even the Bible into thinking I am widely read and deeply intellectual. Not so! Almost every quote I know came to me via Bertie Wooster, and I’m pretty sure the fretful porpentine and I first met here…

….“Well, let me tell you, Jeeves, and you can paste this in your hat, shapeliness isn’t everything in this world. In fact, it sometimes seems to me that the more curved and lissome the members of the opposite sex, the more likely they are to set Hell’s foundations quivering. Do you recall telling me once about someone who told somebody he could tell him something which would make him think a bit? Knitted socks and porcupines entered into it, I remember.”
….“I think you may be referring to the ghost of the father of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, sir. Addressing his son, he said ‘I could a tale unfold whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood, make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres, thy knotted and combined locks to part and each particular hair to stand on end like quills upon the fretful porpentine.’”
….“That’s right. Locks, of course, not socks. Odd that he should have said porpentine when he meant porcupine. Slip of the tongue, no doubt, as often happens with ghosts.”

Jonathan Cecil is the perfect narrator for these books. His Bertie is Bertie, and he’s brilliant at creating appropriate voices and personas for the whole cast of characters. In this one, there’s a fabulous scene where Uncle Percy gets riotously drunk and Cecil’s performance had me chuckling and guffawing all the way through. If you need a bit of joy in the morning, the evening or any other time, I heartily recommend this and the other Jeeves audiobooks. Forget the pasta and toilet roll – stockpile these in preparation for your social distancing. What better company could you possibly have?

Audible UK Link
Audible US Link

46 thoughts on “Joy in the Morning by PG Wodehouse read by Jonathan Cecil

  1. There’s something rich about these novels, FictionFan, even if it’s hard to say new things about the books after a certain point. I love the wit, the great characters, and the clever story arcs. And, after all, if Dame Agatha was a fan of Wodehouse, that’s good enough for me!

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  2. Your review has tempted me to go and read a Wodehouse right now just for the sake of it. Pure escapism. I read this one years ago, but I think it was a different narrator, possibly Martin Jarvis. Like everyone else, I could really do with a bit of light relief at the moment, so I might get hold of this and re-read it.

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    • I listened to one of the Martin Jarvis recordings a few years ago and thought he was excellent too, but somehow Cecil just is my idea of what Bertie should sound like! I can see I’m going to be reading a lot of Wodehouse and Christie over the next few weeks, and I may have to dig out some Georgette Heyer too! This is not a time for Russian classics, I feel… 😉

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  3. The Wodehouse novels are so funny! Even this line made me laugh out loud:

    “Hullo, you frightful young squirt,” I responded civilly.

    In a day in which there is bad news all around, books like this are sorely needed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I know – I just love the way he uses language! I’m not sure people ever really spoke like this, but I wish they did! Yep, Wodehouse and Christie ought to be made available on prescription for the next few weeks or months… 😀

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    • Excellent plan! I listened to one of the Martin Jarvis recordings a while ago and thought he was great too, but somehow Jonathan Cecil just is my idea of what Bertie should sound like! 😀

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    • I’ve adored Wodehouse for decades, especially the Jeeves and Wooster books! Definitely worth your while – and because they’re so much fun and the plots don’t really matter too much, they’re incredibly quick reads, I find.

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    • I know, I’ve been thinking about that – how much harder this would have been even twenty years ago. But now as well as all being able to keep in touch with friends and family quite easily, there’s also online shopping if we’re really forced to self-isolate. These books are great fun, Debbie – highly recommended!

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    • Haha! I reckon they could save a fortune in time and tuition fees by just getting Eng-Lit students to read Wodehouse rather than all the actual literature… plus classes would be so much more fun!

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  4. Perfect timing, this sounds like a great way of distracting yourself from the news for a little while! Or should we just embrace the whole thing and reread Station Eleven? 😉 Anyway, we are starting to do rotations at work, so I will work from home the next two weeks. Need some great books or other entertainment to look forward to in order to get through this!

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    • Hahaha – I’m banning virus-type dystopian novels from my TBR, though I may read some alien invasion destroys earth stories – seems like a quicker and less stressful way to go! 😉 I’m finding I don’t have enough concentration for serious books, so I can see I’m going to be reading a lot of vintage crime and cosies for a while…

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  5. Jeeves hasn’t grabbed me strongly previously, but I absolutely love you reviews and highlights of the books. Maybe I’ll give the audio version a go. And speaking of Russian classics, I am actually engrossed in Grossman’s Life and Fate at the moment!

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    • I’m not quite as big a fan of the rest of Wodehouse’s output, but I adore Bertie Wooster. I’ve given up the attempt to do proper reviews of them though – it’s so much easier and fun to just fill the page with quotes! The Jonathan Cecil audios are great – he’s the perfect Bertie. I’m always so ashamed of how few Russian classics I’ve read – a massive hole in my reading. Maybe I should have a section of them next time I do a Classics Club list… maybe! Hope you’re enjoying it – bet it’s not as funny as Wodehouse though…, 😉

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