Joy in the Morning (Wodehouse novel)
First US edition
|Author||P. G. Wodehouse|
|Publisher||Herbert Jenkins, Doubleday, Doran|
|22 August 1946|
|Media type||Print ()|
|Preceded by||The Code of the Woosters|
|Followed by||The Mating Season|
Joy in the Morning is a novel by P.G. Wodehouse, first published in the United States on 22 August 1946, by Doubleday & Co., New York, and in the United Kingdom on 2 June 1947, by Herbert Jenkins, London. Some later American paperback editions bore the title Jeeves in the Morning.
The title derives from an English translation of Psalms 30:5:
- "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
Wodehouse was working on the novel in Le Touquet (France) before he was interned by the occupying German authorities. He completed the book in Germany after his wife, Ethel, brought the unfinished manuscript with her when she joined her husband in Berlin. The manuscript was completed in Degenershausen, a small village in the Harz mountains.
- Bertie is persuaded to brave the home of his fearsome Aunt Agatha and her husband Lord Worplesdon, knowing that his former fiancée, the beautiful and formidably intellectual Lady Florence Craye will also be in attendance. What ensues will come to be remembered as The Steeple Bumpleigh Horror, with Bertie under constant threat of engagement to Craye, violence from her oafish suitor Stilton Cheesewright, the unfortunate interventions of her young brother Edwin and unnamed peril from the acid tongue of Aunt Agatha. Only the masterful Jeeves can save the day.
More detailed summary
- While buying a present for Jeeves in a London bookshop, Bertie meets Florence Craye, a serious, intellectual girl to whom he was once engaged. She mistakenly thinks that Bertie is trying to improve his mind by reading Spinoza and her own book Spindrift. Shortly afterwards, Bertie meets his college friend D'Arcy 'Stilton' Cheesewright, discovering that Stilton is engaged to Florence and that he shows Othello-like jealousy. Meanwhile, Jeeves has been consulted by Lord (Percy) Worplesdon, who is the father of Florence and the second husband of Bertie's formidable Aunt Agatha, as Worplesdon wants to arrange a clandestine meeting with an American businessman, Chichester Clam, to discuss a business merger. Jeeves suggests that Bertie should stay at a cottage (called 'Wee Nooke') near Uncle Percy's home, Bumpleigh Hall, where the two businessmen would be able to meet in secret. Aunt Agatha, who is away from home, has bought a brooch as a birthday present for her step-daughter Florence and asks Bertie to deliver it to Steeple Bumpleigh.
- Bertie drives to the country with Zenobia 'Nobby' Hopwood, a girl "liberally endowed with oomph", who is engaged to Bertie's old friend George 'Boko' Fittleworth, a writer who lives in Steeple Bumpleigh. Before the black spot passed to Stilton, Boko, too, was engaged to Florence. Lord Worplesdon, Nobby's guardian, detests Boko and will not approve the Nobby-Boko marriage, so Bertie offers to put in a good word for the couple. On arrival, Bertie bumps into Stilton, who is the village policeman, much to the annoyance of Florence, who thinks Stilton should become an M.P. Stilton is convinced that Bertie is wooing Florence and tells him to leave. At Wee Nooke, Bertie encounters Florence's young brother Edwin, a boy scout who is hell-bent on doing a daily act of kindness. The cottage burns down when Edwin attempts to clean the chimney using gunpowder and paraffin. Lord Worplesdon blames Bertie for the conflagration; he then invites Jeeves to stay at the Hall but Bertie has to lodge with Boko. In the confusion Bertie has lost Aunt Agatha's present for Florence, so he sends Jeeves back to London to obtain a replacement brooch.
- In a scheme to improve his standing with Lord Worplesdon, Boko suggest that he should pretend to prevent a burglary at the Hall, with Bertie playing the role of the burglar. While preparing the break in, Bertie is interrupted by Edwin. Attempting to calm his nerves by a walk in the garden, Bertie meets Jeeves who tells him that Lord Worplesdon and Chichester Clam have arranged to get together in the potting shed. Boko mistakes Clam for an intruder and locks him in the shed, deranging Clam's nerves and further enraging Lord Worplesdon. Nobby berates Boko but quickly forgives him. To improve Boko's standing, Jeeves suggests that the following morning Boko should interrupt Bertie while he is heaping verbal abuse on Lord Worplesdon, but Bertie refuses to do this. In the darkness of the garden, Edwin mistakes Bertie for a burglar and biffs him on the head with a stick. Edwin tells Bertie that Florence and Stilton have fallen out and that he has found the brooch dropped earlier by Bertie, then delivered it to Florence. Since she believes that this was a present from Bertie, Florence decides to revive their engagement, much to Bertie's horror.
- Bertie returns to Boko's cottage. Bertie agrees to tick off Uncle Percy in return for Boko's advice, won through experience, on how to alienate Florence. Jeeves discloses to Bertie that the rift in the Florence-Boko engagement occurred after Boko booted Edwin in the seat of the pants. Bertie decides to do the same, ensuring that Florence is present to observe, but it doesn't work: she actually approves of his action, as Edwin has just messed up her scrap album. Nobby promises Bertie to show Florence a letter which he wrote containing a lot of abusive remarks about Florence, in return for Bertie playing his part in the abusive interview with his Uncle Percy. Bertie visits his uncle's study but his intentions change when he sees Boko being forcibly escorted from the grounds by a gardener wielding a pitchfork. His uncle is in a surprisingly genial mood: he invites Bertie to join him in champagne and cigars and congratulates Bertie on kicking Edwin. Percy asks Bertie for ideas on how to re-arrange the secret meeting with Clam but both Bertie and Jeeves are baffled. Bertie brings Nobby up-to-date and she also looks to Jeeves for a plan. Jeeves now suggests that Lord Worplesdon and Clam meet in disguise at the fancy-dress ball to take place in East Wibley that night.
- Lord Worplesdon wears a Sindbad (sic) the Sailor costume that Bertie brought from London in anticipation of the ball. Bertie meets Stilton who is upset because of Florence's intention to marry Bertie. To equip Bertie for the ball, Jeeves purloins Stilton's police uniform, which Bertie very reluctantly agrees to wear. At the ball, Lord Worplesdon's negotiations with Clam have been successfully concluded by the time Bertie arrives late. Despite being pleased with the deal and "stinko", Lord Worplesdon still detests Boko but is mollified when he hears that Boko has also kicked Edwin and will shortly be starting a job in Hollywood, 6,000 miles away from Steeple Bumpleigh.
- In the morning, Stilton arrives at Boko's cottage to arrest Bertie for the theft of his uniform, with evidence provided by Edwin, but he has to leave to obtain an arrest warrant. Bertie goes to the garage to escape by car, but discovers that Uncle Percy has been accidentally locked in the garage overnight. Percy emerges furious with Boko but is horror-struck when Jeeves informs him that Lady Agatha has returned unexpectedly. Jeeves suggests a way out to avoid Percy having to tell his wife that he attended the ball: Lord Worplesdon should say that he spent the evening discussing the wedding plans with Nobby and Boko, then slept at the cottage overnight. Stilton returns, intending to arrest Bertie, but Lord Worplesdon rebukes him and refuses to sign the warrant. But Bertie remains without a good reason to evade the engagement with Florence, as Edwin has destroyed the abusive letter that he wanted from Nobby. Bertie is saved only when Florence decides to marry Stilton after he resigns from the police force in disgust at Lord Worplesdon's underhanded behaviour. Jeeves confesses to Bertie that his announcement regarding Lady Agatha's return was a fabrication to put pressure on Lord Worplesdon, and the pair escape from Steeple Bumpleigh by car.
Robert McCrum, author of a recent biography of Wodehouse, states that Joy in the Morning is "thought by a fervent minority to be his masterpiece". Richard Usborne, who wrote several books about Wodehouse, considered that Joy in the Morning was perhaps the best of the author's books: "If I had to pick one as his happiest, best constructed and most jewel-encrusted, I'd say Joy in the Morning...". However, Frances Donaldson, who also wrote a biography of Wodehouse, did not rate the book quite so highly, considering that some of Wodehouse's other novels, including the Jeeves-Wooster stories Right Ho, Jeeves and The Mating Season were superior.
Usborne used Joy in the Morning to highlight the extreme perils of attempting to translate Wodehouse's English into another language, in view of the hotch-potch of slangs, quotations and allusions that Wodehouse employs. He compares Wodehouse's original text with a translation of Joy in the Morning into French by Denyse and Benoît de Fanscolombe, published by Amiot-Dumont under the title Jeeves, au secours!. Thus Wodehouse's phrase "to give the little snurge six of the best with a bludgeon" becomes, in French, "flanquer au maudit galopin une volée de martinet".
References and sources
- McIlvaine, E., Sherby, L.S. and Heineman, J.H. (1990) P.G. Wodehouse: A comprehensive bibliography and checklist. New York: James H. Heineman, pp. 80–81. ISBN 087008125X
- Donaldson 1982, p. 294 of Allison & Busby edition
- McCrum 2004, p.325
- McCrum 2004, p. 269
- Usborne 1961, p. 13
- Donaldson 1982, p. 29 of Allison & Busby edition
- 'The French for Wodehouse': included in Usborne 1961 as an Appendix; shorter version in Usborne 2002
- Donaldson, Frances (1982), P. G. Wodehouse – A Biography, Weidenfield & Nicholson; reissued 1992 by Allison & Busby.
- McCrum, Robert (2004), Wodehouse – A Life, Penguin Viking.
- Usborne, Richard (1961), Wodehouse at Work, Herbert Jenkins.
- Usborne, Richard (2002), Plum Sauce – A P. G. Wodehouse Companion, Ebury Press.