Well it is certainly not the best of Jeeves’ adventures as he barely makes his presence felt. The novel begins with him taking a break and heading to Herne Bay to do a spot of shrimping.
Bertie finds his affairs rather too hot to handle, as usual, and beseeches Jeeves to return. One expects things to spice up after that but again Jeeves is mostly absent from the scene of action. He does provide a deft touch at the end but by then it seems to be too little too late.Embed from Getty Images
Wooster is headed to his Aunt Dahlia’s lair at Brinkley Court and dark clouds seem to gather at the horizon. Of all aunts in Bertie’s life, Aunt Dahlia is by far the most benevolent one and is usually nice to him. But she has her rhythms as well and can turn into a wounded Tigress if the situation so demands.
She is presently in a spot of bother and wants Wooster to help : apparently her hubby is negotiating a business deal with a rich American gentleman named Cream at some remote location and to facilitate the same Mrs Cream (a successful crime story novelist) and the apple of her eye Mr. Wilbert (a.ka. Willie) have to be kept in good humour. Her trouble is that Willie has a bad reputation and is known to be playboy. He is showing romantic interest in Phyllis, (Aunt Dahlia is her Godmother), and there is an urgent need to intervene to disrupt the proceedings.
Wooster does not mind providing his services but the scene is further complicated by the presence of Aubrey Upjohn, step-father of Phyllis, who happens to be Bertie’s ex-School Master and a perfectly painful pill. To stagger ones imagination further there is the presence of spirited Ms. Roberta Wickham (Bobbie) who had been pursued for an alliance by Wooster in the past though he is now aware of his folly. Aunt Dahlia does not mind sparing resources and so she has even convinced the noted psychologist, Sir Roderick Glossop, to enact the role of a butler with the imaginative name of Swordfish. His purpose in life is to find evidence that Willie is off his rocker and unsuitable to demand the hand of Phyllis.
In this merry social setting steps in Bertie with no definite plans and in trademark style carries out a series of mis-steps. His fried, Kipper, too has a part to play though he is initially not present at the scene. The upshot is that Bobbie is in love with Kipper, who is the intellectual type and working as a reviewer with a newspaper. To convince her mother of the suitability of the match she decides to play ducks and drakes with Wooster’s life. She announces her engagement with Bertie in the Times to stagger her mother’s imagination who express dismay by fainting and calling Bertie names including gaby, guffin and nincompoop.
Bobbie uses the engagement bait on-and-off and Wooster hardly understands when he is coming or going. He gets further embroiled into her crazy plans : twice Mrs. Cream catches him rifling his son’s room (he is looking for a precious art exhibit from his uncle’s collection that he believes to have been purloined by Willie as he is a kleptomaniac) and gives gibberish explanation of looking for a mouse; next he plans to shove Upjohn into a lake so that Kipper can rescue him and get into his good books (a stratagem aimed at preventing Upjohn from suing Kipper’s paper for libel based on a review piece written by Kipper) – well he falls into the lake instead; and finally he is supposed to confront Upjohn and abuse him but is barely able to squeak a word.
He even fails to blackmail Upjohn to drop his libel plans in return for receiving his notes for the upcoming lecture at a school function where is the Chief Guest. Bobbie finally steps in to retrieve the situation and excels in the job.
The sad part if all along Jeeves is non-existent and missing from action. An interesting sidelight is Bertie making friends with Glossop and learning that he had been an adventurous kid in his times. Incidentally Glossop succeeds where Wooster failed and takes custody of the art artefact.
Things turn into pickle for Aunt Dahlia when two surprising facts are discovered almost simultaneously : Willie is not a bad one at all – it is his younger brother Wilfred who takes a rap for that and that Mrs. Cream has discovered that Glossop has stolen the art artefact for unknown to him it had actually been sold to her son. So we are headed to an ugly showdown finally as the convoluted plot seems to reach an end. Instead we have a neat ending with an ‘all-is-well-that-ends-well’ sign off. Jeeves finally intervenes to provided a magical solution although he does besmirch his Master’s name and reputation in the process.