My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Somehow the plot of “The Code of the Woosters” — which starts with the attempted theft of a cow-creamer and rapidly expands to include temporarily failed engagements, threats of violence, policeman’s hats and determined aunts — seems more complex than it actually is. In fact, it’s really quite thin, a well-crafted clothesline on which Wodehouse can hang his sparkling wit and set pieces.
Because of that, the book didn’t impress me as much as “The Inimitable Jeeves,” which has less plot and more wit. Also, Bertie actually seems to have gotten smarter — it’s almost as if he didn’t need Jeeves at all to extract him from his messes. (Perish the thought!)
And though the names of his pals and family are good for a chuckle — how can you not love a name like Gussie Fink-Nottle? — there are some characters who are too annoying even for the certain kind of clueless upper-class Englishperson Wodehouse specializes in, such as Stephanie “Stiffy” Byng, who made me want to skip pages every time she appeared. The book also features the thuggish Roderick Spode, head of the Black Shorts and based on Oswald Mosley. At least he gets his; Stiffy gets away with her flightiness.
Still, even average Wodehouse is wonderful Wodehouse, so thumbs-up for “Code.” If Bertie never lets a pal down, Wodehouse never lets a reader down, either.