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A sporting talent denied; The Real Jeeves by Brian Halford BOOKREVIEW.

Byline: Brian Halford

Perhaps the first thing that strikes the reader when picking up a copy of Brian Halford's engaging and wellresearched 'The Real Jeeves' is an immediate sense of contrast.

Against a sepia background, a heavy crimson colour protrudes from both a cricket ball and a poppy, deliberately contrasting the conviviality of summer afternoons spent playing cricket and the dark spectre of the First World War.

Percy Jeeves was an outstanding cricketer as the series of contemporary reports, reproduced here, prove, but his fame came later, following the creation of his literary namesake, PG Wodehouse's 'inimitable' Jeeves.

Wodehouse saw Jeeves play cricket only once, but the author considered his name and onfield manner ideal in a different, non-sporting context as Bertie Wooster's suave butler.

Tracking Jeeves' career from his days as a precocious talent, Halford does an admirable job illustrating the cricketer's rise. His reports of Jeeves's performances are carefully detailed, often interspersed with anecdotes which add enjoyable pace to the book's narrative.

Yet Jeeves's story is of a sporting talent denied - as so many were once they strode gallantly off to war.

George Orwell once suggested that the candid writing of soldiers on the Western Front was more revealing than most of the contemporary literature produced by intellectuals. Halford succeeds in weaving some of these writings into the final chapters, ensuring that the harsh conflicts which came to dominate Jeeves' life take on a palpable form.

Strangely, his life, in turn, suddenly becomes far more meaningful. The afternoons playing cricket feel even more distant and poignant, reminding the reader of the senseless devastation caused by war.

PG Wodehouse may have saved the Jeeves surname from anonymity, but Brian Halford has successfully told the tale of the real Jeeves who perished on the Western Front. His body, which thrilled thousands of cricket fans, was never retrieved from the battlefield.

We've teamed up with Sports Book of the Month & have a copy of THE REAL JEEVES to give away.

To win, go to their website (www.sportsbookofthemonth.com) and answer the following question: What was PG Wodehouse's first name? | Sports book of the month price: PS13.43, saving 23% on rrp
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Title Annotation:Sport; Opinion, Columns
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 29, 2013
Words:361
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