Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks

 


arc provided by Random House UK through Netgalley

I was so incredibly happy to have been approved to review this title! P.G. Wodehouse is my absolutely favourite author and I do not allow a year to go by without rereading a few of his works, they really brighten up your day.

Faulks, in an author's note, made clear that he, "didn’t want to write too close an imitation of that distinctive music for fear of sounding flat or sharp." In my opinion this was a mistake.
It's absolutely jarring to read these beloved characters sounding as not quite the real thing. Yes, Wodehouse's style is far from easy to imitate - but if you search the vastness that is the internet you'll find plenty of tributes (viz.: fanfiction) which, despite portraying unlikely scenarios, manage to perfectly capture the tone in which the books were written. 
Then again, this too is fanfiction, so when non-published fanfiction is doing it better... well.

Faulks chose to place the action is a very specific time: the 1926 General Strike, something Wodehouse avoided, and with good reason - reading a Wodehouse book is leaving the real world behind and entering a world where your major concerns should be avoiding aunts and how to get your valet to approve your latest sartorial faux pas. If you ready yourself to read about Bertie Wooster's latest imbroglio you do so expecting levity, not the reminder that 800,000 coal miners were fighting for their income not to be further diminished. 

The plot was not up to Wodehouse standards. There is romance in the Jeeves books, there is comedy. But there is no romantic comedy, which is what this book turned out to be.

I'm being too harsh, I do realise it, and it must be said that I do it only because these characters are so dear to me.
The book, on its own, is quite enjoyable - had it featured other characters and not have been published as "Jeeves #16" I would have given it a higher rating. Faulks can write, and he can spin a good yarn. ...It's just not up to Wodehouse standards but, then again, what is?

I see this book intends to entice a new audience to experience Wodehouse and I wish it all the success in that endeavour but, to be honest, the best way to entice someone to read Wodehouse is to direct them towards the master's work itself, there is no short supply of it, for he was a marvellously prolific writer. 

I'd like to express my most heartfelt gratitude to the publishers for accepting my request to review this book! My review may, sadly, not be the best one to promote the book, but it was still a treat to get to read it!


Sebastian Faulk's official site

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