A valiant show, old boy.
Sebastian Faulk has set himself a difficult task: to write in the style of a man who wrote as no one else ever had. Wodehouse’s style, his lightness and clever touch with a plot, and mostly, his two memorable characters, have set him apart from other writers of his generation & others. (And if you’ve never read Wodehouse, shame on you.) Mr. Faulk makes a reasonable job of it.
The plot, like any good J. & W. tale, is convoluted, improbable, and full of whacky characters and whackier nicknames, and is hardly important, except as a vehicle to get old Bertie into trouble, and for Jeeves to rescue him in the politest manner possible. It involves yet another old chum of Bertie’s, on the verge of marriage, except that, well, I don’t know, something is in the way. Bertram resolves to salvage the situation, and of course, sets it into a death spiral. Jeeves and the fickle hand of fate conspire to save the situation, with a little help from a Wm. Shakespeare.
I don’t believe, given the title, that this is going to be a spoiler (SPOILER ALERT) but this also results in Bertie’s engagement as well. Not that he hasn’t been engaged in the past; on the contrary, he’s made something of a career of it. But this time does seem to be a bit different. The delights of a third romantic entanglement I will leave the reader to discover on his or her own.
Faulk does a good job of recreating Bertie’s voice (read, in my head, by Hugh Laurie, of course). His flailing ineptness at literary quotations, singular slang, and peculiar point of view come right through. My only complaint is that there is too little of Jeeves. The valiant valet spends much of the tale impersonating a lord, leaving Bertie to his own devices. I imagine even his nearest & dearest become weary of Bertie’s unrelieved company after a while.
While I would like to see another adventure from Mr. Faulk, I sincerely hope that he doesn’t take the avenue that seems most obvious: somehow disrupting Bertie’s newfound nearly marital bliss. It seems the obvious next step to disrupt his engagement, but I would love to see Bertie flounder through newlywed days (and perhaps, someday, parenthood).
Send round the wedding announcement; I’ll clink the crystal to the Wooster (and Jeeves) happiness.