I rarely decide what I will read next until I have actually finished the book in hand, so to speak. When I finished my last novel (Bring Up the Bodies) I had found it to be such an intense read, that I decided to opt for something much lighter hearted next. My life has also been under a certain amount of strain lately, so I decided that I definitely wanted something fun and non-demanding, which would distract and entertain me for a chapter or two each night.

So what did I choose? Sebastian Faulks’ tribute to P. G. Wodehouse: Jeeves and the Wedding Bells.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks

I loved every episode of the famous Jeeves and Wooster television series, but I have only ever read one of the P. G. Wodehouse books so far. I read The Inimitable Jeeves early last year and thoroughly enjoyed. It was every bit as good as I had hoped it might be: genuinely funny and actually very clever and well written. In short, my estimation of P. G. Wodehouse is very high. So, the question that entered my mind as I picked up this Sebastian Faulks homage was whether a different author – even a very talented one – could successfully produce anything worthy of the Jeeves and Wooster name?

Happily, I found that this was a rare example of someone taking a great work, and producing something that was actually very complementary and enjoyable. Obviously this is not a book written by P. G. Wodehouse, but as a novel written as a tribute to him, I think that Sebastian Faulks has achieved a resounding success.

There is a good and surprisingly complex plot, featuring, as ever, a huge country house, intimidating great aunts, misunderstandings, and various characters who are experiencing trouble in love. In fact, we find Bertie has recently fallen for the beautiful Georgiana Meadowes, a girl he describes as being a “hazard to male shipping”.

I won’t attempt to cover the plot here, but suffice it to say that Jeeves and Wooster find that their roles have been temporarily reversed in this escapade. This provides some of the book’s comic moments, as poor Bertie struggles with even the simplest of his manservant duties.

As well as the other familiar features of a good Wodehouse yarn, most importantly we have Jeeves behaving and speaking like the Jeeves we know and love, and we have Bertie getting himself into many a typical Wooster scrape and coming out with some brilliant turns of phrase in the process. In fact, I really wish I had made a note of more of the best snippets as I was reading this book, as Faulks has Bertie produce some great lines. Here are just a couple of examples I could find as I thumbed through the book again:

Upon entering a local village pub:

The Red Lion was a four-ale bar with a handful of lowbrowed sons of toil who looked as though they might be related to one another in ways frowned on by the Old Testament.

Reflecting on the catastrophe he had caused when serving at table on evening:

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.

This is an extremely fun and funny book, which I am sure that any Jeeves and Wooster fan will enjoy (even if it is not perhaps quite the same as reading a P. G. Wodehouse original).

If you liked this, you would almost certainly enjoy The Inimitable Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse.

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