Book Review: Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks

My husband and I recently celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary by duplicating many of our early dates – wandering around a bookstore, browsing for new books to buy and reading bits to each other out of magazines.

Definition of Love, Billy Rowlinson, Creative Commons via Flickr
Book Love

Knowing how much I love P.G. Wodehouse, and the Bertie/Jeeves stories in particular, my honey snatched this book off the New Release table as soon as he saw it, and brought it right over. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells (Jeeves and Wooster Book 16) bills itself as an “Homage”, and is set as a continuation (or resolution) of the Bertie/Jeeves series.

First the up-side: Mr. Faulks does a marvelous job of evoking the essence of Wodehousian story and language, without aping or falling into parody. Bertie’s unique voice is just as quirky and effervescent as we have come to expect. The plot is silly and convoluted, with plenty of embarrassing hijinks and four – count ’em four – sets of star-crossed lovers whose destinies must be untangled. Jeeves’ masterful machinations are finally revealed, to Bertie’s astonishment. In this regard, all is as it should be.

Now, for the downside – and it’s pretty significant. Bertie is in love, and this time it’s for real. (No spoilers here, the book jacket will tell you that). The problem is, in order for us to root for Bertie to win the heart of a woman we actually like, Bertie would have to change. He would need to become thoughtful, responsible, acquire some emotional depth – in other words, he’d have to grow up. So he does.

“But wait!” you may cry (as I did). “Bertie is Peter Pan in spats! He can’t grow up, he wouldn’t be Bertie any more!”

Ay, there’s the rub. It may be more realistic to have characters pause in sincere recollection of lost friends when the Great War is mentioned (for example), but it’s a bit like finding heart-healthy flax seeds in your chocolate mousse – it’s jarring and doesn’t belong in all that fluff.

Nevertheless, Mr. Faulks’ fluff is scrumptious and more than makes up for the occasional jolt of unwanted fibre. The book is thoroughly enjoyable and I recommend it as a sweet diversion for all Wodehouse fans. Just don’t take it too seriously.

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