Crikey! How Did That Happen? by Ian Strathcarron

Bertiee Wooster

My grateful thanks to Aimee at Bookollective for a copy of Crikey! How Did That Happen?: The [Refreshingly Unauthorised] Biography of Sir Bertram Wooster, KG by Ian Strathcarron in return for an honest review and for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

Crikey! How Did That Happen?: The [Refreshingly Unauthorised] Biography of Sir Bertram Wooster, KG is available for purchase here.

Crikey! How Did That Happen?:

The [Refreshingly Unauthorised] Biography of Sir Bertram Wooster, KG

Bertiee Wooster

Up until now we have only known Bertie Wooster in his mid-twenties; this is his first whole life biography, told in ten short stories at seven year intervals.

Thus we first meet Bertie aged seven, in 1907, at Malvern House prep school, then follow him to Eton aged fourteen and Oxford at twenty-one. We meet Jeeves when Bertie is twenty-eight and then they go their separate ways: Jeeves to the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace and Bertie to the French Riviera at its most glamorous, causing havoc with Somerset Maugham and Alfred Hitchcock, before being accidentally captured by the Italian fascists and spending Christmas Day 1942 with Mussolini.

After WWII Bertie resumes his career in musical cabaret, headlining the Royal Variety Performance in 1949, before being pitched into the machinations of Hollywood at its prime in 1956. In 1963, Bertie, caught up in the zeitgeist, finds himself in the Himalayas with the Maharishi and then we say goodbye to a very much alive Sir Bertram in 1970 in Mustique, where he becomes involved in a murder mystery with many of the leading tax exiles and celebrities of the day.

My review of Crikey! How Did That Happen?: 

The [Refreshingly Unauthorised] Biography of Sir Bertram Wooster, KG

Ten stories giving insight into Bertie Wooster’s life from 1907 to 1970.

By rights I shouldn’t enjoy Crikey! How Did That Happen? as it occasionally exemplifies an era of politically incorrect attitudes, but I really did! Ian Strathcarron has captured the essence of the original P.G. Wodehouse style with alacrity and aplomb so that it was very much like reading the original stories. The authorial voice is incredibly effective. I could hear it clearly in my head.

The stories themselves are very amusing and present a fuller insight into Bertie as a character, (I loved Private Eye‘s renaming of him!) but what I really enjoyed was the presentation of Britain’s social history behind them. There’s a vivid picture of the upper middle classes in the twentieth century that, whilst being stereotypical in faith with the original stimulus books, also presents an evocative image of bygone eras. I was surprised by some of the real people referred to as not all the references were entirely favourable and you’ll have to read the book to find out who they are!

Behind the jolly japes and ‘what-ho’ dialogue making up the entertaining stories are actually some poignant and thought provoking elements too, particularly in the WW1 deaths announced at Bertie’s school. There’s often a sly vindictiveness or deceitfulness  in the behaviours presented and I found myself feeling guilty at laughing at thefts, deaths and adultery so that I was surprised by how much this book made me think as well as entertained me.

I found Crikey! How Did That Happen? amusing, entertaining and jolly good fun. I think it’s a must read for all Wodehouse fans.

About Ian Strathcarron


Lord Strathcarron is a travel writer, publisher, mediator and counsellor. He lived in the Orient for many years.

When not writing, he owns the art book publisher Unicorn Press Ltd.

You can follow Lord Strathcarron on Twitter @ianstrathcarron.

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