PG Wodehouse fans should be delighted by this novel. Faulks revives our favorite duo, Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, for a fun summertime romp at Lord Henry’s country estate. At stake is the happiness of Bertie Wooster’s friend Woody. His engagement to Lord Henry’s daughter Amelia is in jeopardy due to a combination of misunderstanding and financial crisis. Complicating the situation are Amelia’s beautiful and lively cousin Georgiana and a hilarious plot contrivance that requires Bertie to play the valet Wilberforce to Jeeves’ Lord Etringham.
If you don’t know who Jeeves and Wooster are, you should do yourself a favor and read all of Wodehouse’s novels. ALL OF THEM. They are classics of modern British humor and utterly delightful. Bertie Wooster is a doofus with money and a brainy valet named Jeeves. Bertie is always getting into some sort of trouble with his idiot chums and disappointing his various severe aunts. The banter is witty and sharp, and reflective of the 1930s upper crust social scene. I remember reading these books in high school and college and laughing out loud. Faulks succeeds at capturing the spirit of Wodehouse, Jeeves and Wooster in this book. Some of the outstanding lines:
The Red Lion was a four-ale bar with a handful of lowbrowed sons of toil who looked as though they might be related to one another in ways frowned on by the Old Testament.
My heart, already skipping the odd one from the prolonged eye contact, now began to beat the sort of rhythm you hear in the Congo before the missionary gets lobbed into the bouillon.
Little did I know, as I set fire to an after-breakfast gasper in the cottage garden, what the lead-filled sock of fate had in store for me.
The plot is suitably farcical with the signature slapstick moments we might expect from an homage to Wodehouse (Bertie getting stuck on the roof of the house wrapped in a sheet, Bertie breaking and entering). I was a little surprised by the ending, and some Wodehouse purists might baulk at it, but I thought it was rather sweet. If you enjoyed Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, Wodehouse is for you, and so is Faulks. And you should try to track down the 1990s Jeeves and Wooster TV series starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. I was humming the theme music through this whole novel.