thecatnappersBertie Takes It Easy In The Country

Author: P.G. Wodehouse 

At the mercy of a dire doctor, Bertie is going to retire from the up and coming city life of a busy bachelor and enjoy some country time with the “aged relative,” the inimitable Aunt Dahlia. Seeking to get away from it all has rather landed him in the soup. Especially when an old flame now attached to a torturous revolutionary saunters her moody way back into Bertie’s quiet life, Aunt Dahlia makes an exceptionally ill placed bet on the horses, Mr. Plank mistakes Bertie as the infamous criminal Alpine Joe (again), and Bertie’s needy relations task him with cat napping from a most fearful man. Bertie will never be so glad for city life as when this misadventure is cleared up with some matrimonial bliss (thankfully not his) and the return of a noisy feline with a propensity to show up at the very worst possible moments.

Since my tween years, I’ve long been a fan of P.G. Wodehouse, particularly his Jeeves and Wooster series. The clueless but all around good chap Bertie, swaning through society in his bold Drone’s Club ties and fanciful walking socks is at the mercy of friends and relatives far more scheming (and admittedly more mercenary) than our luckless bachelor. Only one thing keeps Bertie ahead of the relentless mob of relatives: his astute butler Jeeves marked with good taste and clever last minute plans. Together the duo weathers the ridiculous pomposity of situational comedy and the waning aristocratic world, encountering every kind of over-the-top extravaganza along the way. Merging dry wit, irony, sarcasm, situational, and even physical comedy, Bertie Wooster and his faithful butler have seen it all – and the adventure is hardly over yet. And just when Bertie thought he would get some quiet too.

I remember the paperback my mother had when I was a child with the colorful and stealthily amusing visage of two cat thieves on hands in knees in a cheery looking barn. The cover just intrigued me as a child and while Wodehouse with his stiff-upper-lip British humor (and his irreverent mocking of the aforesaid) was beyond my abilities, I did love staring at that book cover and wondering what kind of secret, dastardly world involved cat-napping. So, when I ran across the audiobook version while having a library prowl, the memories swarmed back and I swooped down to finally unravel the greatest mystery of all – why does a fancy aristocratic dandy and his butler want to (or need to) steal a feline? Finally, after over twenty years of waiting, I would have the answer to that perplexing childhood riddle and the story behind the picture that just captured me so devotedly.

While filled with the usual verve and the addicting Wodehouse dialogue, The Cat Nappers actually wasn’t my favorite of the Bertie and Jeeves misadventures. Not that I didn’t enjoy the rollicking novel with it’s unsurpassed chattiness and turns of phrase complimented by the seriously bizarre and unlucky turns of events. It’s just that when, you know, compared with other Bertie adventures (who can forget Totleigh Towers and the cow creamer) it’s almost . . .  well, sedate. Just a slight quibble with an otherwise faultless read which only suffers in comparison with some of my favorite Wodehouse moments.

Still the verve and absurdity we have come to cherish is all there, situations piling and comingling into a delightful mess with a cute animal at the center of the fracas. The audio book version, read by Frederick Davidson, captures all the light hearted, good natured, clean comedy putting a smile on the reader’s (or in this case listener’s) face and a song in our winter weary hearts. Be of good cheer fellow readers and follow Wooster through yet another encounter with dastardly relatives and pure ill luck. Recommended.

–        Frances Carden

[AMAZONPRODUCTS asin=”0786198974″]
Frances Carden
Latest posts by Frances Carden (see all)