The Best Books by P. G. Wodehouse You Should Read

Photo of Paula Zamorano Osorio
18 October 2016

Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse became one of the most successful English comic writers of the 20th century. Literary genius and a light approach to life allowed him to play with language in a unique fashion, giving an individual spark to every novel through vivid descriptions, sharp wit, outrageous pomposity, running themes and ridiculous but lovable characters. Once you have read one, it is impossible not to fall in love with the rest of Wodehouse’s masterpieces.

P. G. Wodehouse | © Unknown/WikiCommons

Piccadilly Jim

Descriptive language doesn’t get much better than that of Wodehouse, but in his blockbusting novel, Piccadilly Jim, it has never been wittier. This story won the hearts of readers on both sides of the Atlantic and demonstrates Wodehouse’s skill for writing about Britain for his American readers and vice-versa. Centered round a reforming playboy Jimmy Crocker who is determined to seduce the girl of his dreams, this comic gem of a novel sees the return of old characters, a kidnappee and the classic impostors on a comedy-filled romantic adventure.

Joy in the Morning

Written during the Second World War in Germany itself, Wodehouse’s escapist work leaves behind the horrors and bitterness of life, bringing brightness and laughter with it instead. Recalling the old days of balls and butlers, this novel is a nostalgic memory of a world which was lost to war forever, yet immortalized within its pages. Wodehouse’s best characters are back in this story, which promises hilarious scenes when Bertie is forced to visit his terrible Aunt Agatha at the picturesque Steeple Bumpleigh. Love, jealousy, mésalliances, mistaken identities, and plans which go awry can mean only one thing: Jeeves will be back to set things right once again.

P. G. Wodehouse | © Jim McDougall/Flickr

Something Fresh

The year of 1915 saw the publishing of Wodehouse’s comic debut novel, Something Fresh, set in Blandings Castle, home to the Emsworth family. Blandings Castle is never lacking an impostor, and so to get the saga going with a bang, Wodehouse includes not one but two impostors in this hilarious series opener. The plot thickens as a valuable Egyptian scarab, which mysteriously came into Lord Emsworth’s possession, goes missing. The perfect combination of intrigue, love matters and wit make Something Fresh a novel that you simply cannot put down.

The Code of the Woosters | © Steven P.Rodriguez/Flickr

Thank you, Jeeves

Introducing Britain’s iconic duo Jeeves and Bertram Wooster and their comical world, Thank you, Jeeves is the kick-start to Wodehouse’s much-loved second series. The end is far off when Jeeves resigns because of Bertie’s frequent and tuneless banjo playing in the opening pages of the novel, leaving Bertie to fend for himself in a dire situation of calamity and confusion. However, he does not last long before he is in great need of Jeeves’ help. Wodehouse reaches a whole new level of outrageous hilarity in this terrific series starter.

The Mating Season

Without an impersonation or two, Wodehouse’s novels would not be complete and so much is true in The Mating Season. In the second novel of the Totleigh Tower’s saga, all is peaceful at Deverill Hall, the splendid Tudor manor house in the picturesque village of King’s Deverill. Or so it would seem. With gentleman Bertie Wooster about, it is only a matter of time before a good-turn-gone-wrong leads to trouble. The Mating Season sees Bertie impersonating his good friend Gussie Fink-Nottle (who later impersonates the former) in an attempt to get him out of an awkward position. Wodehouse leaves it up to Jeeves to use his brains – and of course, a good disguise – to save the day.

Totleigh Towers/Highclere Castle | © Richard Munckton/WikiCommons

Right Ho, Jeeves

Second in the Jeeves and Wooster series, Right Ho, Jeeves in yet another comic masterpiece dealing with love troubles and broken hearts. Despite his kind-hearted plans to give his friends a helping hand, Bertie Wooster’s best intentions, as often happens, lead only to chaos and hilarious misunderstandings. Luckily, Jeeves is on the scene to ingeniously put things right. Often regarded as being the single funniest piece of sustained writing in the English language, the scene in which Gussie Fink-Nottle presents the prizes at Market Snodsbury Grammar School steals the lime-light. Wodehouse’s side-splitting story-telling and unparalleled comic brilliance shine brightly from the pages of this unforgettable classic.

Reading Wodehouse | © Steven P.Rodriguez/Flickr

Jeeves in the Offing

Jeeves in the Offing is the eighth novel of the series and is another fantastically witty work. This time, Jeeves is on holiday, but inevitably, trouble finds Bertie. Set in Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia’s establishment, Brinkley Court, this story has what every Wodehouse novel has, only there is one crucial difference: Jeeves, who only makes an appearance far into the book. Funny, full of engagements and featuring that ever-needed impostor, Jeeves in the Offing offers the some of the best written comedy that the country has seen.

Jeeves The Musical | © Damien Slattery/WikiCommons

Summer Lightning

The Emsworth family is back for a third full-length adventure in Blandings Castle, titled Summer Lightning. Panic spreads through the castle, as Hon. Galahad Threepwood dedicates himself to writing his telling reminiscences, in which secrets and follies are revealed that could be reputation destroyers. Whilst several of the characters plot and plan methods of preventing such memories from being stirred up, the Empress of Blandings, Lord Emsworth’s beloved sow, is extraordinarily kidnapped. This timeless comedy, which involves a double-dealing detective, disguises and a crazy ex-secretary, has been adapted twice for the screen and once for the stage.

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