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Literature / Joy in the Morning

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Joy in the Morning is a 1946 novel by P. G. Wodehouse.

It stars Wodehouse's most famous protagonists, Jeeves and Wooster. Amiable but dimwitted young aristocrat Bertie Wooster goes off to the bookstore to buy his hyperintelligent, hypercompetent valet Jeeves a book by the Dutch philosopher Spinoza. He is mistakenly given a book called Spindrift which was written by his ex-fiancee, Florence Craye—and at this exact moment Florence enters the bookstore and is impressed to see Bertie with her book. Bertie is terrified of getting caught up again with the intellectual, assertive Florence, but he seems to be safe, as Florence is engaged to one of Bertie's old schoolmates, Stilton Cheesewright. Like Bertie, Stilton comes from money, but unlike Bertie he wants to earn a living so he has taken a job as a policeman in the country village of Steeple Bumleigh.


As it happens, Bertie is going to Steeple Bumleigh. His terrifying Aunt Agatha lives there with her second husband, Percy Craye (Lord Worplesdon), Florence's father. Percy is guardian to Nobby Hopwood, a young lady and childhood friend of Bertie's. Nobby is engaged as well, to Boko Fittleworth, another of Bertie's old school chums. Boko is a writer who will soon be leaving for a Hollywood screenwriting job, and they want to get married right away, but Percy disapproves of Boko and won't give his permission and Nobby is still shy of her 21st birthday. Nobby asks her old friend Bertie for help in bringing Percy around.

If that weren't complicated enough, Percy is looking to merge his shipping business with that of an American magnate, Chichester Clam. Clam has arrived in England and Jeeves has been charged with arranging a clandestine meeting between the two businessmen. Bertie for his part has received an expensive brooch from Aunt Agatha, which he is to deliver to Florence in Steeple Bumleigh as a wedding present. Finally, there is Florence's little brother Edwin, a free-floating agent of chaos.


Comic hijinks, wacky misunderstandings, and romantic partner-swapping ensue in classic Wodehouse style.


  • As the Good Book Says...: Bertie, relieved at the Happy Ending, says he remembers a saying, "Something about Joy doing something." Jeeves says "Joy cometh in the morning, sir?" It's from the 30th Psalm: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
  • Bookends: The novel ends with Bertie driving home, remembering that "wheeze" about Joy again, then saying "But we went into all that before, didn't we?"
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Edwin is an example, even as he relentlessly tries to perform good deeds as a Scout.
  • Buxom Is Better: Bertie is horrified at the prospect of marrying Florence, but he can't stop himself from praising her curvaceous figure—"that profile of hers, which was a considerable profile and tended to make a man commit himself to statements which he later regretted".
  • Can't Get in Trouble for Nuthin': Bertie tries everything to get Florence Craye to call off their engagement. Finally he kicks her beloved little brother in the pants, and she thanks him: he had destroyed some of her scrapbooks, and she was going to kick him herself.
  • Children Are Innocent: Subverted, as almost always with children in the Jeeves and Wooster catalog. Edwin Craye's attempt to "catch up" on his daily good deeds results in a house burning to the ground (without him in it, unfortunately enough from Bertie's point of view). Later, Bertie's scheme to break up with Edwin's sister by kicking the kid in the backside backfires when it turns out she and her father have also been victims of these 'good deeds', and are profoundly grateful to Bertie.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Bertie recalls how Lord Worplesdon chased him a mile with a hunting crop for smoking one of Lord Worplesdon's cigars when Bertie was 15—this is previously mentioned in short story "Jeeves Takes Charge".
    • When Jeeves suggests replacing the brooch Bertie has lost with another, Bertie remembers that Jeeves had the same idea when they switched out dogs in "Episode of the Dog McIntosh".
    • When thinking about getting into mischief in other people's "dark gardens", Bertie remembers having to sneak out and ring the fire bell at Aunt Dahlia's place, the plot of Right Ho, Jeeves, and being urged by Bobbie Wickham to drop a flowerpot through the roof of a greenhouse, the plot of short story "Jeeves and the Kid Clementina".
  • Enter Stage Window: Bertie climbs though Boko's window, rather than entering through the door, because...well, he just does.
  • Eye Pop: A rare example of this trope outside of animation, as Bertie goes into exhaustive detail about how Stilton's eyes pop out of his head when he's enraged.
    "There was a pause, during which he tried to catch my eye and I tried to avoid his. Stilton’s eye, even in repose, is nothing to write home about, being a sort of hard blue and rather bulging. In moments of emotion, it tends to protrude even farther, like that of an irascible snail, the general effect being rather displeasing."
  • The Ghost: Bertie (and thus the reader) never actually meets Chichester Clam. And while he's definitely met Aunt Agatha in previous stories, in this one she remains an off-stage looming menace. Jeeves invokes her supposed return to help bring about various happy endings.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: An unusual variant, when Jeeves steals Stilton Cheesewright's police uniform, so Bertie will have a costume for the costume ball.
  • Gratuitous Latin: Bertie sometimes quotes Latin tags, usually of the schoolboy variety, quite unnecessarily. Jeeves's are usually more apposite, but he isn't above showing off either.
    Jeeves: Precisely, sir. Rem acu tetigisti.
    Bertie: Rem—?
    Jeeves: Acu tetigisti, sir. A Latin expression, literally meaning "you have touched the matter with a needle". A more idiomatic rendering would be—
    Bertie: Put my finger on the nub?
    Jeeves: Exactly, sir.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Uncle Percy "ejaculated" the word "what" five times in a row when he blundered into Bertie in the garden.
  • How We Got Here: The novel opens with the words "After the thing was all over, when peril had ceased to loom and happy endings had been distributed in heaping handfuls...", as Bertie, driving back to London from Steeple Bumbleigh, reflects on how narrow was his escape. Then we jump back to the beginning of the story.
  • Invincible Classic Car: Boko Fittleworth's car is an early example:
    It was a thing about the size of a young tank, which he had bought second-hand in his less oofy days and refused to part with because its admirable solidity served him so well in the give and take of traffic. He told me once that it brushed ordinary sports models aside like flies, and that his money would be on it even in the event of a collision with an omnibus.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: Bertie decides to engineer a breakup with Florence by giving her little brother Edwin a good swift kick in the butt. It backfires, as Florence was looking to do just that herself.
  • Meddlesome Patrolman: Stilton of course turns up on duty as the village policeman when Bertie least wants to see him.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Bertie never swears and never repeats the swear words of others. So that's why, when an enraged Uncle Percy lets loose a curse word, Bertie says "Nothing else could have explained the crisp, mouth-filling expletive which now proceeded from him like a shot out of a gun. It sounded to me like something he must have picked up from one of the sea captains in his employment."
  • Shaped Like Itself: Uncle Percy's rather ineffective way to describe a fawn.
    Percy: “The timid fawn that shivers and shakes and at the slightest suspicion of danger starts like a fawn.”
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Bertie brags about his ability to "keep the lip stiff and upper and make the best of things." It's complete nonsense, of course, as Bertie panics easily.
  • Strictly Formula: Sticks close to the formula that Wodehouse used for all his novels. There's at least one young couple that is engaged, and in this case, two couples. There are romantic tangles in the relationships, as always. Bertie blunders into an Accidental Engagement, as always. Bertie is entrusted with some mission by one of his aunts (here, Agatha), which he bungles. Finally, Jeeves swoops in and saves the day.
  • Title Drop: See As the Good Book Says... above.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In an early chapter, a house burns down. This is barely mentioned throughout the rest of the novel, not even by the owner.
    Percy (to Bertie): "I should have known that the first thing you would do, before so much as unpacking, would be to burn the place to the ground!"
  • Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names: Bertie is astonished to hear that his Uncle Percy is going to be meeting with an American named "Chichester Clam".
    Bertie: I think the strain to which I have been subjected must have affected my hearing. You sound to me just as if you were saying Chicester Clam.