Bertie Wooster (a young man about town) and his butler Jeeves (the very model of the modern manservant) - return in their first new novel in nearly forty years: Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks.
P.G. Wodehouse documented the lives of the inimitable Jeeves and Wooster for nearly sixty years, from their first appearance in 1915 ("Extricating Young Gussie") to his final completed novel (Aunts Aren't Gentlemen) in 1974. These two were the finest creations of a novelist widely proclaimed to be the finest comic English writer by critics and fans alike.
Now, forty years later, Bertie and Jeeves return in a hilarious affair of mix-ups and mishaps. With the approval of the Wodehouse estate, acclaimed novelist Sebastian Faulks brings these two back to life for their legion of fans. Bertie, nursing a bit of heartbreak over the recent engagement of one Georgina Meadowes to someone not named Wooster, agrees to "help" his old friend Peregrine "Woody" Beeching, whose own romance is foundering. That this means an outing to Dorset, away from an impending visit from Aunt Agatha, is merely an extra benefit.
Almost immediately, things go awry and the simple plan quickly becomes complicated. Jeeves ends up impersonating one Lord Etringham, while Bertie pretends to be Jeeves' manservant "Wilberforce," - and this all happens under the same roof as the now affianced Ms. Meadowes. From there the plot becomes even more hilarious and convoluted, in a brilliantly conceived, seamlessly written comic work worthy of the master himself.
This book is intended as a tribute from me, and on behalf
of any others who don't think it falls too lamentably short of
the mark to P. G. Wodehouse: a thank you for all the pleasure
his work has given. I have been reading him with joy and
admiration for almost half a century. I am no expert or mastermind
on things Wodehousean; I am just a fan.
The great man's descendants hope, I know, that a new novel may help to bring the characters of Jeeves and Bertie to a younger readership that lucky group of people who have yet to open The Mating Season or Right Ho, Jeeves. I hope so too, and I envy them the joys that lie in store.
To the old hands, meanwhile, I would say only this: that yes, I did understand the size of what I had taken on, and yes, it was as hard as I expected. Wodehouse's prose is a glorious thing; and there's the rub. I didn't want to write too close an imitation of that distinctive...
The book is funny, but it’s not laugh-out-loud hilarious like the originals are. At best, one can finagle an occasional chuckle. I suspect Faulks was too constrained by the parameters of his construct to really let loose and launch something on his own. By worrying too much about conforming to style, he loses some (although not all) substance. Of course one can hardly blame Faulks for this. This experiment is probably a case of darned if you do and darned if you don’t.
(Reviewed by Poornima Apte).
Full Review (1234 words).
Growing up in an extremely cramped one-bedroom apartment on the bottom floor of a multi-rise building in Mumbai, I was looking for one thing - escape. And while India had been independent for just around 25-odd years at that time, the vestiges of colonialism remained. Try as we might, my friends and I could never bring ourselves to call Mumbai's fantastic train station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. It would always be Victoria Terminus to us - in fact, even the name Mumbai took a while to sink in. Growing up, it had always been Bombay.
These colonial aftereffects showed themselves most readily in the English fiction my friends and I read. We grew up on a steady diet of Enid Blyton books in elementary school. The images of endless ...
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