Calling all PG Wodehouse fans, here is a story narrated by the butler Jeeves and not by his master, Bertie Wooster. That makes it highly unusual.
“Bertie Changes His Mind is the only story in the whole Wooster cycle which is related by Jeeves,” wrote Geoffrey Jaggard in Wooster’s World.
Wooster’s World, a handy companion to Wooster stories, was first published in 1967. Two more Wooster novels appeared after Wooster’s World. Much Obliged, Jeeves was published in 1971 and Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen in 1974.
Wooster was the narrator in both those novels, as in all other Wooster stories. So Bertie Changes His Mind remains the exception, with Jeeves as the narrator.
Bertie Changes His Mind appeared in the collection of stories, Carry On, Jeeves, published in 1925. You can also read the story online. The story was first printed in The Strand in August 1922.
The Sherlock Holmes short stories also first appeared in The Strand. The magazine published works by famous writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, , HG Wells and Agatha Christie.
Wodehouse also contributed numerous stories to The Strand, including Extricating Young Gussie, Uneasy Money, Jeeves and the Hard-Boiled Egg, Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit, Jeeves Takes Charge, Heart of a Goof, Comrade Bingo, Crime Wave at Blandings and Thank you, Jeeves. Here’s the full list.
Bertie Changes His Mind is unusual for two reasons:
- Jeeves is the narrator, and
- For once, Jeeves sounds exactly like Wooster.
In the other stories, where Wooster is the narrator, Jeeves comes across as a shrewd, unflappable, well-read bloke with a formal manner, saying things like ”We have here a communication from Lady Wickham”, “If you wait here, sir, I will return to your room to procure a suit of clothes.”
That formality is missing in Bertie Changes His Mind. It is written in a style as breezy as the other Wooster stories.
You would think Wooster is the narrator, not Jeeves.
The story will have you in stitches over Bertie’s ordeal in a girls’ school. Asked to give a talk, Bertie makes a mess, unthinkingly telling the girls the most inappropriate things — about what to bet on and the stockbroker and the chorus girl — before the school mistress cuts him off.
Wodehouse fans will recall a similar mess when Gussie gave a speech at a school prize-giving in Right Ho, Jeeves.
And guess who is to blame for Bertie’s ordeal?
But he has his reasons. And his purpose is served.