With a return to life anticipated nearly as much as Buffy’s, Jeeves and Wooster sprung back to action this month with a new adventure written by Sebastian Faulks nearly 40 years afters creator P.G. Wodehouse’s death.
Due to a series of extenuating circumstances, Bertie Wooster, recently returned from a very pleasurable sojourn in Cannes, finds himself at the home of Sir Henry Hackwood. Bertie is, of course, familiar with the set-up at a country house. He can always rely on Jeeves, his loyal butler to have packed the correct number of trousers and is a natural at cocktail hour. But this time, it is Jeeves who can be found in the drawing room, while Bertie finds himself below stairs.
Those familiar with Jeeves’ and Wooster’s adventures will quickly find themselves in familiar territory as crazy caper follows seemingly clever but bizarrely amusing Wooster logic in a head-long rush into amusement. The humorous and wittily fast-paced writing for which Wodehouse was well-known is reprised quite elegantly in this revival by Faulks. The PG Wodehouse estate chose brilliantly in asking him to do the writing which the new author calls a tribute.
There is a slightly greater depth to Bertie which comes as no surprise from the author of Birdsong and On Green Dolphin Street. Jeeves is a dash muted and more in the background but not entirely noticeably so. Faulks’s influence seems to disappear entirely when in the most active parts of the story and it takes some remembering to realise that this is not the original author. Wodehouse was a prolific writer in life and Jeeves and Wooster have featured in many adventures. This could fit in and blend among any of them.
The writing borrows its style easily from the gloriously rich descriptions of which Wodehouse was well-known. Full of adjectives and words so round in the mouth that they make you want to spit them out as they are too big to chew. For example, see the description of Bertie’s friend Woody, below:
His features might best be described as craggy, with the old beak pretty prominent, the eyes on the hooded side and the hair generally in need of ten minutes in the barber’s chair, but the opposite sex were drawn to his scruffy figure as moths to the last candle before wax rationing.
This is a most splendid and entertaining story and it makes me sad and hopeful at the same time. I want the Wodehouse adventures to remain never-ending and can only hope Faulks picks up the mantle once again.
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells is undoubtedly my favourite book of the year so far.