Much Obliged, Jeeves
Front cover and spine of first edition
|Author||P. G. Wodehouse|
|Publisher||Barrie & Jenkins|
|15 October 1971|
|LC Class||PZ3.W817 Ms FT MEADE|
|Preceded by||Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves|
|Followed by||Aunts Aren't Gentlemen|
Much Obliged, Jeeves is a comic novel by P. G. Wodehouse, first published in the United Kingdom on 15 October 1971 by Barrie & Jenkins, London, and in the United States on the same day by Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York under the name Jeeves and the Tie That Binds.
The two editions have slightly different endings. Wodehouse's American editor gave the US edition its title and rewrote the last page, adding Jeeves' disclosure about the eighteen pages from the Junior Ganymede Club Book, and his expressed desire to remain permanently in Wooster's employment.
Written only a few years before his death, Much Obliged, Jeeves is the second-to-last appearance of Wodehouse's characters, Jeeves and Bertie Wooster (the last being Aunts Aren't Gentlemen (1974)). It forms the fourth and final instalment of the Totleigh Towers saga, though it actually takes place at Brinkley Court, the home of Bertie's Aunt Dahlia, near the town of Market Snodsbury.
A heretofore unknown old school chum of Bertie's, Ginger Winship, is standing for the House of Commons in a by-election, and Aunt Dahlia has offered the use of Brinkley as a general H. Q. for the campaign. Dahlia persuades Bertie to come down to Brinkley to assist in the canvassing.
At luncheon before departing for Brinkley, Bertie discovers that Ginger's standing in the by-election is on the wishes of his fiancée. He also discovers that said fiancée has kept him out of the metropolis for several years, and discourages him from partaking in alcoholic stimulants. On arriving at Brinkley he discovers that this hard-hearted mystery woman is none other than Florence Craye, author of Spindrift, and former fiancée of both Percy Gorringe and Bertie himself. Bertie muses on how he might save his friend from a life of encountering Florence Craye every morning over the eggs and bacon.
Before he can make progress on that front, Bertie discovers there are other guests to the party at Brinkley. Roderick Spode, 8th Earl of Sidcup has come to deliver a speech or two for Ginger, and he has brought his fiancée, Madeline Bassett. Spode still believes Bertie to be a sneak-thief from the episodes of the umbrella, the silver cow-creamer, and the African curio, and has also warned Bertie that he should not expect to win Madeline back from him.
Also among the party is L. P. Runkle, a financier and collector, who has visited Brinkley to attempt to sell a valuable silver porringer to Tom Travers (who, sensibly, has fled the premises on hearing of the invasion from Totliegh Towers). Runkle was the employer of the late father of Tuppy Glossop, and made a pile on Tuppy's father's invention, but cut Tuppy and his father out of the action. Dahlia wants to soften up Runkle and get him to unbelt, so Tuppy can have his legacy and finally marry her daughter Angela.
Ginger's chances for election (and thus his engagement to Florence) are threatened by the spectre of Bingley, his former valet, who has purloined the Club Book of the Junior Ganymede Club and is threatening to sell it, and its explosive tales of Ginger's past, to his opponent or the local newspaper. Jeeves finds this most disturbing, and during a social visit to his fellow valet, slips him a Mickey Finn and recovers the book.
Surprisingly, this does not please Ginger. After disappointing Florence in his performance at the Council meeting, he has realised how wrong he was to have wanted to marry her, and has fallen in love with his secretary, Magnolia Glendennon. Spode, however, is entranced by the reception he is getting at his stump speeches for Ginger, and has floated the idea of renouncing his title and running for the Commons himself. This fails to delight Madeline, who sees her Countess coronet going pfut. Spode and Madeline have words, and Madeline starts muttering darkly about resigning herself to being Mrs Wooster.
Dahlia, meanwhile, failing to convince Runkle to give Tuppy his due, has purloined the silver porringer he wished to sell to Tom. Bertie tries to set this aright by returning the porringer, but is caught, and hides the object in his bureau drawer. While he muses on the four problems (returning the porringer; freeing Ginger from his honourable obligation to Florence; helping Dahlia extract Tuppy's due from Runkle; and reconciling Madeline to Spode to avoid marrying her himself), Jeeves takes matters in hand. At the candidate debate, Ginger listens to his opponent's speech, then promptly endorses her and resigns the race. Havoc ensues, in which Spode is pelted with produce. Florence breaks her engagement with Ginger, and he promptly elopes to London with Magnolia Glendennon.
Back at Brinkley, Bingley (in Runkle's employ) discovers the purloined porringer in Bertie's drawer, and Runkle accuses Bertie of the crime. On the one hand, Bertie faces an unjust stretch in durance vile; but, on the other hand, Florence quickly reverses her previous intent to renew her engagement to him, and he feels that, taken all in all, he has ended up the better for it. Spode realises he prefers the rarefied atmosphere of the House of Lords to the rough-and-tumble of the Commons, abandons his plans to renounce his title, and he and Madeline reconcile.
Finally, Jeeves nullifies Runkle as a force by revealing secrets written about him by Bingley in the Club Book. This not only prevents him from pressing charges against Bertie, but also forces him to give Tuppy his legacy. The story ends with Jeeves revealing to Bertie that he has also destroyed the nineteen pages that he had written about him, their relevance rendered nil by Jeeves' expressed presumption (confirmed by Bertie) that he may remain permanently in Bertie's service.
Brinkley (the name under which he was introduced in Thank You, Jeeves) is renamed Bingley, apparently due to the potential for confusion with this story's setting at Brinkley Court. This novel is significant as it is the first time in the Wooster canon that Jeeves' first name (Reginald) is revealed.
Version changes from the novel to the TV version
In the TV series Jeeves and Wooster, the book was dramatised as Series IV, Episode 6: The Ties That Bind; this was the last episode in the series.
Some changes were made in the TV version. While the section of the plot involving Harold "Ginger" Winship is left unchanged, and the seedy ex-butler who stole the Ganymede Club Book is still called Brinkley, Runkle and Aunt Dahlia are absent from the plot (the latter replaced with Aunt Agatha, who plays no major role). Tuppy Glossop used all his money to buy a huge drain pumper called "Plumbo Jumbo", and has to come in disguise when the drains at Totleigh plug up because Tuppy had previously antagonised the notoriously beefy and choleric Spode. When Ginger throws the election to elope with Magnolia, he causes Bertie to become engaged to both Florence Craye and Madeline Bassett simultaneously, as Spode renounced his title to stand for the election in Ginger's place. Bertie broke off with Florence by informing her that he was about to marry Madeline, and Jeeves finds a damaging secret about Spode (involving a kangaroo called Celia) which forced him to reclaim his title and marry Madeline, leaving Bertie free. However, there is a twist ending: because Tuppy was discovered by Spode, he was chased off the premises, leaving the Plumbo Jumbo running, and Bertie to try and fix it before the wedding; he only succeeds in making it worse. During the wedding, the pipes in the chapel start spewing out sewage, spraying the guests and ruining Totleigh Towers; Bertie is blamed, and the guests chase both Bertie and Jeeves around the chapel in the final scene, with the duo narrowly escaping to safety.
- The Russian Wodehouse Society's page, with a list of characters
- Summaries of most of P.G. Wodehouses books, information on characters