Back in my late teens / early twenties I became OBSESSED with all things British. Part of this had to do with me going off to college and broadening my horizons…but mostly it was because I was in DC and being an international school the dorms were equipped with international television…Oh the BBC of the late 90s…how I adored you. Suddenly, instead of watching reruns of 90210 late at night, I was able to “broaden my horizons'” with the likes of Absolutely Fabulous, Keeping Up Appearances, and Are You Being Served? …Most importantly I was introduced to the comic genius of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie in Jeeves and Wooster. The show originally ran from 1990 to 93, but enjoyed re-runs when I was supposed to be in my three hour finite mathematics class…guess where I was most Monday afternoons?
Of course the show opened up the writings of P.G. Wodehouse to me and left a deep impression on what dry wit and humor are really supposed to be about. Like all college students my interests eventually moved on to other authors but I have always kept a special place in my heart for Bertie Wooster and his man Jeeves.
It wasn’t until a few days ago while I was shelving some audiobooks that I noticed a NEW (as in 2013, not 1920) title in the series…Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, an homage to P.G. Wodehouse by Sebastian Faulks. I was both ecstatic and apprehensive. Here was the chance to read something new about two of my favorite characters…but could it really ever live up to Wodehouse? I decided to grab the audiobook and just go for it, without even checking Goodreads (caution to the wind, my friends).
Faulks introduces the book by acknowledging that it was a huge undertaking to try and write Jeeves and Wooster. How can you ever match a classic? He didn’t want to impersonate Wodehouse’s writing, but he wanted to create something similar; a new tune that reminded you of a beloved classic hit. I think he was on the mark; I laughed at Faulks’s version of Wooster just as much as I did when first reading the Wodehouse books. The plot is convoluted, the conversations are dense and best of all, Bertie is up to his best scheming with Jeeves cleaning up after him.
If you are someone who has recently been obsessed with any of the hit TV shows about roughly the same time period making the rounds (Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Mr. Selfridge, Grantchester or even Penny Dreadful) but have never read the original Wodehouse novels, then I say give them a go. And while you are at it, pick up the new Jeeves by Faulks. I promise, you will laugh.