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Literature / Ring for Jeeves

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Ring for Jeeves is a 1953 novel by P. G. Wodehouse.

It is a Jeeves and Wooster novel—sort of, that is, in that it features hypercompetent uber-valet Jeeves, but not his master, brainless aristocrat Bertie Wooster. In this edition Bertie is off screen, and Jeeves has entered into temporary employment with Bill Belfry, the Earl of Rowcester. Bill is, like many British nobles in the post-World War II era, broke. His sister Monica and her husband Sir Roderick arrive with good news: Monica has lined up a sale of their huge mansion, to Mrs. Rosalinda Spottsworth, an American widow.

The sale of the house should facilitate broke Bill's impending marriage to Jill Wyvern, the local vet. However, there is a complication: Bill has been working as a bookie to earn some money, and in that capacity he ran up a £3000 debt to one C.G. Biggar. Captain Biggar, who is searching intently for Bill in order to get his money, also happens to know Mrs. Spottsworth, the prospective buyer of Bill's mansion—he was on the hunting expedition in which her husband was killed. And there's another, more serious complication: Bill knows Rosalinda Spottsworth as well. As it turns out, she was his girlfriend, before they broke up and she got married.


Comic hijinks ensue.


  • Adaptation Deviation: For some reason, the American edition moved Chapter 1 (Rosalinda and Biggar meeting in the pub) to Chapter 5.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The American edition made some curious changes. First, the title of the book was changed from Ring for Jeeves to The Return of Jeeves. Second, Bill became the Earl of Towcester, not Rowcester.
  • Buxom Is Better: "Bill, as I remember it, was always more of a lad for the buxom, voluptuous type."
  • Contrived Coincidence: A hunter from Africa running into an old client's wife in a pub in England, and said hunter chasing after a bookie who just happens to be the ex-boyfriend of said wife. Mrs. Spottsworth for her part doesn't believe it's a coincidence at all.
    "In her lexicon there was no such word as coincidence. These things, she held, were meant."
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  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: George Orwell observed of Wodehouse that he never permitted himself the luxury of a sex joke, but in this book, Rory repeatedly observes of his wife Monica that after spending the summer in Cannes, she's "tanned all over", the strong implication being that she's been sunbathing nude. Monica makes no attempt to deny this.
  • Gold Digger: The narration notes that Rosalinda left her small hometown and went off to the big city with the express purpose of landing a rich husband, and she succeeded. Capt. Biggar for his part doesn't want to be accused of this, which is why he can't bring himself to approach a woman worth $42 million.
  • Great White Hunter: Captain Biggar's job—he actually refers to himself as a "White Hunter". The narration remarked that he looks like he belongs in Kenya and is out of place in an English pub. Also how he met Rosalinda, as it was on his hunting expedition that Rosalinda's second husband got killed by a lion.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Uses the old phrase "coming out", to describe a teenaged woman's debut on the social scene.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Most of the British aristocracy. Sir Roderick works at Harrige's.note  Bill, who is an earl, had to start working as a bookie to raise some cash.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro Pay: The first paragraph notes that "Rowcester" is pronounced "roaster".
  • The Load: Rory, who has an incredible aptitude for inconvenient remarks. He makes comments about how the Abbey is drafty and damp in the presence of prospective buyer Rosalinda. He talks about how Bill used to like girls with bigger racks in the presence of Bill's fiancée Jill. He winds up revealing the chest that contains Bill's costume, thus revealing Bill as the bookie to Capt. Biggar. And when Bill finally succeeds in shaking the locket out of Rosalinda's dress, Rory sees it and tells her, thus ruining the scheme.
  • Love at First Sight: Happened to Captain Biggar in Africa when he first met Rosalinda.
  • Oddball in the Series: As noted above, this is the only Jeeves and Wooster novel that does not include Bertie Wooster. And in the absence of Bertie, this is also the only Jeeves and Wooster novel that is told in the third person, as opposed to first-person narration. Further, this novel makes far more references to current events than other novels in the Jeeves and Wooster series, explicitly mentioning how the socialist government of Clement Attlee is forcing the British aristocracy to find gainful employment.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: William Belfry, Earl of Rowcester, for Bertie Wooster—both handsome, affable, dimwitted aristocrats. The likely reason for this is that in this novel, Jeeves is helping his master get married, which is something confirmed bachelor Bertie Wooster would never need.
  • Title Drop: Monica recommends "Ring for Jeeves" late in the novel when Bill is in despair.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Rory and Monica. He's a rather beefy, red-faced aristocrat, she's described as "small and vivacious" and has a penchant for sunbathing naked. They're very fond of each other, though.
  • Unable to Support a Wife: Bill wanted to earn some cash before marrying Jill, which is somewhat illogical, as she already had a job as a vet.
  • Verbal Irony: When excoriating Bill for gambling on horses, Jill says no one ever pulls off "fantastic doubles" that win "thousands of pounds." Bill groans, because that is exactly what Captain Biggar did when Bill was bookmaking.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: An actual plot point, as the pendant that Bill is trying to steal (It Makes Sense in Context) plunges instead down into the recesses of Rosalinda's dress.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Rosalinda insists that it's this, not Contrived Coincidence, that brought her and Capt. Biggar together.

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