😆 😀 😆 😀 😆
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.
‘It’s what that Greek chap said when – ’
‘You mean “Eureka!”’
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!!