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Literature / Jeeves in the Offing

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Jeeves in the Offing (published in America as How Right You Are, Jeeves) is a 1960 novel by P. G. Wodehouse.

It is a Jeeves and Wooster story. Jeeves is going off on vacation, so Bertie is particularly pleased to get an invitation to stay with his Aunt Dahlia. As usual, Dahlia has a job for him. It seems that Dahlia's gorgeous but dim-witted goddaughter Phyllis Mills is staying at Brinkley Court. Also staying at Brinkley Court are Adela Cream and her son Willie, guests at the mansion while Adela's husband Homer is off making a big business deal with Dahlia's husband Thomas. This is a problem, because Willie Cream is a thrice-married, well-known rake and libertine—and he's been paying way too much attention to Phyllis. Aunt Dahlia has summoned Bertie to Brinkley to keep an eye out on Willie Cream and make sure he doesn't get too far with Phyllis. Bertie is less than pleased about this, because along with Phyllis came her stepfather, the Rev. Aubrey Upjohn. Upjohn was once the tyrannical, Dean Bitterman headmaster of the boarding school where young Bertie was educated, and Bertie fears him still.note 


Also staying at Brinkley Court is Bertie's old girlfriend and one-time fiancée, Bobbie Wickham. Bertie's mortal fear of marriage and Bobbie's high-spirited, mischievous Fiery Redhead nature make him nervous. Bertie is even more horrified when he sees an announcement in the newspaper that Roberta "Bobbie" Wickham has gotten engaged to one Bertram Wooster.


  • Buxom Is Better: Although he's a Celibate Hero and he finds her annoying, Bertie does note that Phyllis Mills is "well-stacked".
  • Continuity Nod: Many, probably more than usual.
    • Rev. Aubrey Upjohn, central to many of Bertie's unpleasant memories of boarding school, finally makes an appearance in the series.
    • Bertie remembers Bobbie Wickham getting him to puncture Sir Roderick's hot water bottle, which was the plot of short story "Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit".
    • The topic of the 23 cats that Sir Roderick found in Bertie's bedroom is mentioned again; this happened in "Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch" (where it was three cats).
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    • The silver cow creamer that is a MacGuffin in this novel was also a MacGuffin in The Code of the Woosters.
  • The Ditz: Phyllis, who is a sweetheart but also very very dumb.
    Phyllis: [about her father taking libel action against a newspaper] It's this book Daddy wrote about preparatory schools. He wrote a book about preparatory schools. Did you know he had written a book about preparatory schools?
    Aunt Dahlia: Hadn't an inkling. Nobody tells me anything.
    Phyllis: Well, he wrote this book about preparatory schools. It was about preparatory schools.
    Aunt Dahlia: About preparatory schools, was it?
  • Exact Words: Bobbie tells Mrs. Cream that "Swordfish" the butler "has been with Sir Roderick Glossop for years."
  • Fiery Redhead: Bobbie Wickham, who is volatile and high-spirited and always disturbing the peace and getting Bertie involved in some wacky hijinks. Bertie remembers (word-for-word) the description of Bobbie by Jeeves in "Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit":
    Jeeves: In my opinion Miss Wickham lacks seriousness, sir. She is too volatile and frivolous....I would always hesitate to recommend as a life partner a young lady with quite such a vivid shade of red hair.
  • Foreshadowing: It's established that Aubrey Upjohn has to give a speech at Market Snodsbury school and that he is hopeless at extemporaneous speaking and must use prepared remarks. That's how the good guys get the upper hand over Upjohn in the end; Jeeves steals his speech. That forces Upjohn to drop the libel suit against Reggie.
  • Grammar Nazi: An entire paragraph where Dahlia is raging at Aubrey Upjohn is continually interrupted by Bertie noting how his aunt confuses "who" and "whom".
  • Grande Dame: Bertie describes his aunt as usually "genial" but says she can be "the haughtiest of grandes dames" when she's offended, as she is when Upjohn demands she kick Reggie Herring out of the house.
  • Hidden Depths: Sir Roderick Glossop, the "nerve specialist" aka "looney doctor", who is stealthily observing Willie Cream. Glossop was once an antagonist to Bertie, but in this book Bertie discovers that when he was a young man Glossop was often involved in the same sort of silly adventures that Bertie regularly gets into. He even made a habit of sneaking biscuits from the headmaster's office just like Bertie did with Upjohn.
  • MacGuffin: Once again, Uncle Tom's silver cow creamer. Willie Cream steals it (or so Bertie thinks), leading Bertie to sneak into Cream's room twice to look for it, and get caught by Willie's mother both times.
  • Mistaken Identity: It turns out that all the worrying that Bertie and Dahlia and Sir Roderick did over Willie Cream was pointless, because the guest in their house is Wilbert Cream—responsible, upstanding, wealthy college professor—while the drunken kleptomaniac they're worrying about is his younger brother Wilfred.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Bertie Wooster employs one, which forces him to use some strange constructions when talking about Aunt Dahlia, who is Sir Swears-a-Lot.
    "She...uttered an ejaculation, far from suitable to mixed company, which she had no doubt picked up from a fellow Nimrod in her hunting days."
  • Overly Nervous Flop Sweat: Bertie resorts to "handkerchiefing my upper slopes, which had become generously bedewed", after Mrs. Cream correctly deduces that Swordfish the butler isn't really a butler (he's Roderick Glossop).
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Sir Roderick, who is surreptitiously watching Willie Cream to judge just how crazy he is, has assumed the identity of a butler named "Swordfish".
  • Poor Communication Kills: Bobbie Wickham announces her engagement to Bertie because she knows her mother hates Bertie—the idea is to soften Mom up for the man she really wants to marry, Reggie Herring. Unfortunately she doesn't tell Reggie about this, so he reads the Announcements section of the paper, believes he's been dumped, and writes her an angry letter. She receives it, and dumps him for real.
  • Rake Take: In the backstory. Bertie remembers with irritation how he once stepped on a rake and had the handle hit him on the nose, which caused his companion Bobbie Wickham to roar with laughter.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Bertie, Bobbie, and Sir Roderick come up with a scheme in which Bertie will push Upjohn into the lake, followed by Freddie fishing Upjohn out, which will win Freddie Rev. Upjohn's esteem. As they wait for Upjohn to arrive, Freddie hides in the bushes, and Bertie says "his upper lip was stiff."
  • Title Drop: Only in the American edition. Jeeves explains that it was worth embarrassing Bertie in order to checkmate Upjohn and get the Cream deal done. Bertie, who really likes his uncle Tom, says "how right you are, Jeeves," and the book ends.

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