Anyone who hasn’t read the original Jeeves and Wooster stories should start with the master himself, but fans longing for...


Everyone and his butler thinks he can do the Wodehouse voice. They’re all wrong, but Schott’s version, a painstaking facsimile rendered in spun sugar, has its own particular charm.

From 1915 to 1974, the British humorist and immortal genius P.G. Wodehouse tickled readers’ palates with tales of the well-born, well-heeled Bertie Wooster and his unflappable valet, Jeeves. Wodehouse balanced frenetic plots with wordplay that drew its zing from the contrast between Bertie’s breeziness and Jeeves’ formality. All the elements are here in Schott’s version: country weekends with the “Aged Relative,” impersonations, taxi chases, narrow escapes across rooftops, matrimonial engagements that threaten like thunderstorms. Familiar characters stay in character: Madeline Bassett moons over daisy chains, Roderick Spode stomps around in his fascist black shorts, Uncle Tom obsesses over antique silver, and Bingo, Freddie, Barmy, Tuppy, and Catsmeat booze it up with Bertie at the Drones Club. Schott, known for his charming trivia (Schott's Quintessential Miscellany, 2011, etc.), is capable of true Wodehousian flights in lines like “From across the auditorium came a clatter of chairs and the resounding ‘thud’ of a tall man overestimating a low door” or “The majority of Dronesmen suffer from advanced cases of ergophobia—a sloth-inducing affliction that is as crippling as it is contagious. Medical Science has hitherto been reluctant to recognize ergophobia as a genuine diagnosis, but if Medical Science ever popped into the Drones Club on a weekday afternoon, then Medical Science’s bow tie would spin round and round in amazement.” But where the master’s own voice seems to burble forth as effortlessly as a gutter’s in a downpour, Schott gives the impression of infinite—if gleeful—labor. He even includes endnotes. The endnotes are a joy, as one might expect from the author of Schott’s Miscellany, but still.

Anyone who hasn’t read the original Jeeves and Wooster stories should start with the master himself, but fans longing for more will welcome Schott’s homage, which was authorized by the Wodehouse estate.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-52460-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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