This season, if you want to give the gift of laughter and a cozy escape from these dark days, you can’t go wrong with a novel by the humorist P.G. Wodehouse, the creator of Bertie Wooster and his valet extraordinaire, Jeeves. In the past, I’ve had to make do with uninspired dog-eared paperbacks found in secondhand bookshops but, now—thanks to the great Overlook Press — we have The Collector’s Wodehouse editions. This uniform series in hardcovers is handsomely crafted, designed by Peter B. Willberg, with wonderful cover illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski.
By my count, there are 46 titles in the series, which is more than enough to keep the merriment flowing throughout the New Year.
Furthermore, these novels need not be a “guilty pleasure” since, in between the chuckles and guffaws, one can savor the sentences of a master stylist. Here, for example, is Bertie’s take on a violin solo at a local concert hall in The Mating Season:
Except for knowing that when you’ve heard one, you’ve heard them all, I’m not really an authority on violin solos, so cannot state definitively whether La Pulbrook’s was or was not a credit to the accomplices who had taught her the use of the instrument. It was loud in spots and less loud in other spots, and it had that quality which I have noticed in all violin solos, of seeming to last much longer than it actually did.
I recently went on a Wodehouse binge, reading in quick succession the delightful A Damsel in Distress, The Mating Season, and Meet Mr Mulliner. That trio simply whets my appetite for more, and you can bet I’ll be toasting P.G. on New Year’s Eve.