14) PG Wodehouse — Right Ho, Jeeves
Fifth in the Jeeves and Wooster books. Jeeves is called upon by Gussie Fink-Nottle to assist in the problem of Gussie being desperately in love with Madeline Bassett, but too shy to talk to anyone but his newts. Bertie, feeling jealous of the respect showered upon Jeeves, feels that he can do better. He gets his opportunity when the first attempt by Jeeves is a failure. Needless to say, nothing can possibly go wrong with Bertie’s plan. And certainly not when he also attempts to fix the broken engagement between his cousin Angela and his old chum Tuppy.
It all goes wrong, and naturally is all put right again by Jeeves. You could call it formulaic, except that part of the charm is in knowing that this will happen, and watching how Wodehouse does it, with some of the funniest writing it’s ever been my pleasure to read. The prose truly does scintillate, absurdity piled ever higher as Bertie prattles on.
And a curious thing — as I read it, I heard it in Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry’s voices. Those two did such a superb job of this novel in their tv adaptation that I think I will forever hear the dialogue just as they said it.