Aunts aren’t gentlemen” is one of my favourite Wodehouse novels. The the 10 quotations below are some of the funniest I have found.
The cover of my Folio Society edition of “Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen”
That’s a high bar: see eg my reviews of Thank You, Jeeves (click link for five wondrous quotations) Right Ho, Jeeves (click for 14 fruity quotes) and Ring for Jeeves, which also teemed with quotables.
So for all you Wodehouse aficionados out there, here are ten exquisite quotations from Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen:
- ‘Nice girl,’ I said, for there is never any harm in giving the old salve. ‘And, of course, radiant-beauty-wise in the top ten.’ [Orlo’s] eyes bulged, at the same time flashing, as if he were on the verge of making a fiery far-to-the-left speech. ‘You know her?’ he said, and his voice was low and guttural, like that of a bulldog which has attempted to swallow a chump chop and only got it down halfway.
- ‘He couldn’t have been more emotional if he had been a big shot in the Foreign Office and I a heavily veiled woman diffusing a strange exotic scent whom he had caught getting away with the Naval Treaty.’
- ‘What asses horses are, Jeeves.’ ‘Certainly their mentality is open to criticism, sir.’
- ‘Wooster, you blasted slimy creeping crawling serpent, I might have expected this!’ It was plain that he was not glad to see me.
- Jeeves, I need scarcely say, had vanished like a family spectre at the crack of dawn.
- She uttered a sound rather like an elephant taking its foot out of a mud hole in a Burmese teak forest.
- ‘You have to be like one of those Red Indians I used to read about in Fenimore Cooper’s books when I was a child, the fellows who never let a twig snap beneath their feet, and I’m not built for that.’ There was justice in this. I believe the old relative was sylph-like in her youth, but the years have brought with them a certain solidity, and any twig trodden on by her in the evening of her life would go off like the explosion of a gas main.
- I took a deep breath. It was some small comfort to feel that she was at the end of a telephone wire a mile and a half away. You can never be certain what aunts will do when at close quarters.
- He heaved a sigh, as if he had found a dead mouse at the bottom of his tankard.
- ‘It’s an extraordinary thing; anyone looking at you would write you off as a brainless nincompoop with about as much intelligence as a dead rabbit.’ ‘Thank you, Porter, old chap.’ ‘Not at all, Wooster, old man.’
- A lifetime of getting socks on the jaw from the fist of Fate has made Bertram Wooster’s face an inscrutable mask, and no-one would have suspected that I was not as calm as an oyster on the half-shell as I started out.
I was surprised to discover that Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, published in 1974, was the last Jeeves novel Wodehouse wrote. It is indistinguishable in style and quality from Thank You, Jeeves, published in 1934, and appeared no less than 72 years (sic) after his first novel, The Pothunters, in 1902. Wodehouse died in February 1975, aged 93, one month after being knighted in the New Year Honours.
P.P.S For my own comic writing, see my Seven Hotel Stories: