Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks

jeeves and the wedding bellsSpot on, Faulks, old chap! Simply spiffing!

😆 😀 😆 😀 😆

Those of you who kindly read my reviews on a regular basis will know that the thing that is most likely to make me spit, splutter and curse is someone messing with an author I love. And yet somehow, I can’t seem to resist. So when I heard that Sebastian Faulks was about to publish a new Jeeves book, I knew I had to read it as soon as it came out – and polished up both my spittoon and my curses in preparation…

‘And what was his attitude towards Georgiana?’
Jeeves considered. One could almost hear the cogwheels of that great brain whirring as he selected the mot juste. It was a pity that, when it came, it was one with which I was unfamiliar.
‘I should say his attitude was complaisant, sir.’
‘Complacent, do you mean?’
‘I fancy either adjective might apply, sir.’
‘Hmm.’ While unsure of the difference, I was fairly certain neither was quite up to snuff.

I’m delighted to admit I was wrong! Faulks has come up with something so close to perfect that I’m left with almost nothing to criticise. So let’s get my minor quibbles over straight away. Once or twice, Faulks brings us into the real world with a mention of deaths in WW1 or of Bertie’s loss of his own parents when he was very young – as we know, Wodehouse’s world rarely, if ever, impinged on the real one, especially in the Jeeves books. The plot has lots of things I loved, but one aspect is so far from the premise of the originals that, while enjoyable, it doesn’t ring completely true. And the story dips just a little in the middle, I felt.

‘ “Dear as remembered kisses after death, sir. And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign’d On lips that are for others.”’
‘Is that helpful?’
‘It was intended by the poet Tennyson as a consolation, I believe, sir.’
‘Well, you tell him from me what to do with his consoling.’

BUT – Faulks has got the overall tone completely right and the dialogue, especially between Bertie and Jeeves, is wonderful! Scarcely a false note, throughout. The plot is suitably convoluted, we meet some old friends and the special sunshine of Wodehouse’s world is back to warm us all again.

Meanwhile I sprang from the bench like the fellow in his bath when inspiration suddenly struck him.
‘Bazooka!’ I cried.
‘What?’
‘It’s what that Greek chap said when – ’
‘You mean “Eureka!”’
‘Do I?’

Sebastian Faulks
Sebastian Faulks

When Bertie’s old chum Woody Beeching asks for Jeeves’ advice on how to patch things up with his fiancée, Bertie and Jeeves set off to Kingston St Giles to render assistance. A motley crew are collected under the roof of Melbury Hall – not just Woody, his girlfriend and her parents, but also Georgiana, a lovely young popsy Bertie had met before on the Côte d’Azur and, of course, fallen in love with. Add in Georgiana’s fiancé, a cast of servants, a couple of old school chums of Aunt Agatha, and a forthcoming village entertainment, and all the ingredients are there for a perfect Wooster stew. For typically Bertie-ish reasons, the situation is further complicated when Jeeves is mistaken for a Lord and Bertie has to play the part of Jeeves’ valet…

It was perhaps a mistake to remove one hand and try to steady the bowl from beneath, as it may have been this manoeuvre that caused the wretched thing to flip over. It was certainly, on reflection, an error of judgement to attempt to remove approximately five helpings of gooseberry fool from Dame Judith Puxley’s lap with a Georgian tablespoon.

In the introduction, Faulks explains that it is hoped a ‘new’ Jeeves will tempt new readers to read the originals. I’m happy to say that I would also heartily recommend this to the most die-hard Wodehouse fan – there may be tiny bits that jar, but the overall effect is totally wonderful – in fact, top hole, spiffing and really quite oojah-cum-spliff! The hardback is a lovely quality, with a good-size font and spacing, and the dustjacket is beautifully designed and nicely tactile. All-in-all – close your ears, Scrooges – a perfect Christmas gift. Enjoy!!

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30 thoughts on “Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks

  1. FictioniFan – Good to hear that this one got it spot-on. As you say, so often it all turns out very badly and I generally don’t like a ‘changing of the guard’ when it comes to classic characters either. But every once in a while… And Jeeves is such a great character too. I’m sure you know this, but P.G. Wodehouse was one of Agatha Christie’s fans, and the feeling was, so I understand, mutual.

    • There’s something similar about the worlds they created – St Mary Mead always reminds me of the villages in Wodehouse’s world. The sun always shines and the characters have a similarity – all those retired colonels and fierce old ladies. Just that Christie bumps one or two off while Wodehouse marries one or two off! Which is the worst fate? 😉

    • I saw an interview with him yesterday, and he really does seem to adore Wodehouse. I won’t try to tempt you, but this one really is a homage rather than a pastiche – you can tell he loves the books and tries hard not to do anything too awful to them…

    • I chuckled a lot with this one – and loved the ‘Bazooka’ part!

      Funnily enough, I thought you’d be quite taken by oojah-cum-spliff – great word, isn’t it? And quite Punchy-ish…

        • If you haven’t read PG Wodehouse, you really, really should…but start with the original Jeeves books rather than the Faulks.

          It’s a Wodehouse-ism – one of many. He is also the man who said ‘I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.’ Not to mention ‘It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.’

  2. Don’t know if I have the guts to try this – I usually come out in a rash at the thought of a continuer (except if it’s a Holmes, for some reason), but your review is encouraging…….

    • The best I’ve read – better than any of the Holmes pastiches. This really isn’t pastiche, it’s definitely homage. So long as you can cope with Bertie falling in love with an appropriate female for once…

      It made me laugh out loud umpteen times, and only made me twinge occasionally.

      • What on earth could possibly count as an appropriate female for Bertie? – one of nature’s bachelors, if ever I saw one! I don’t read Wodehouse as much as you do, but I feel a reread coming on.

        • Ah, but he was always looking for the perfect woman – it was just that he kept finding Madeleines and Honorias! I only really love the Jeeves books – I was never as thrilled by any of his other series. It’s Bertie who makes the books special…

  3. I’m excited to hear you thought well of this book – especially since the copy I reserved just came in at the library today! I’ve been reading all the Jeeves/Wooster books in publication order and only have one left, so this one has timed well. Just reading the introduction of the book, and the way that Wodehouse’s Jeeves/Wooster titles are listed in the front (*above* Faulks’s other works, no less) encourages me to think that this book will be worth the time.

    • I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It really made me laugh out loud several times and he’s got Bertie’s voice just right. That was quick of the library – it was only published two days ago! I do hope you enjoy it – let me know what you think. (I’ll see your review, of course.) 😀

  4. It’s years since I read any Jeeves, no make that decades, but this makes me not only want to read Faulks version but, as he hoped go back to the Wodehouse originals. My only worry is that here is another writer using someone else’s inspiration rather than their own. have so many of our best authors run out of ideas of their own?

  5. Great review! Only problem I had was with the ending. The dumb situations Bertie got himself into all along, due to falling for the wrong girls were sort of the whole point of his life.. 😛

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