Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, by Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks's book Jeeves and the Wedding Bells: An Homage to P.G. Wodehouse was formally approved by Wodehouse's heirs, who apparently hope that Faulks can introduce a new generation of readers to Wodehouse's most famous creations: the “mentally negligible” Englishman Bertie Wooster and his ever-resourceful valet, Jeeves. Frankly, I doubt it. I mean, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells might amuse Wodehouse groupies*, but why on earth would anyone shell out $26 for Faulks's version who wasn't already a fan?

Faulks's glorified fanfic totally legit novel opens with a role reversal: Bertie is disguised as a valet, while Jeeves is pretending to be a nobleman named Lord Etringham. The pair are attempting to assist Bertie's childhood friend Woody, whose engagement to Amelia Hackwood has recently been called off. Unfortunately, Bertie has troubles of his own—in addition to being the world's least-competent manservant, he has finally fallen in love himself, but the lady in question, Georgiana Meadowes, is engaged to another. Thankfully, Jeeves is at hand, discreetly arranging everyone's future happiness...

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells offers a passable imitation of Wodehouse's dialogue, borrows heavily from his plots, and recycles his characters. It's also sugary and sentimental and goes far too easy on Bertie, who (for once) manages to skate through the story with minimal humiliation. Faulks does his best, bless him, but never comes within a mile of capturing the tone of Wodehouse's storytelling. Look: reading Wodehouse is a lot like reading poetry. His style—an inimitable blend of topsy-turvy comedy, vivid language, and undiluted lunacy—was always greater than the sum of its parts, and successfully recreating it would require something a hell of a lot more impressive than this faithful but formulaic blend of familiar names, vintage slang, and hapless-bachelor hijinks.

*At least, those groupies who can get over the fact that the official publisher's description(!!!) refers to Jeeves as a butler. So, like... maybe six people?
Posted by: Julianka


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