“New readers, as they say, start here; the old lags familiar with the Wooster family setup might like to practice a scale or two on the piano while I bring the tyros up to the mark on…” (Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks)
“This book is intended as a tribute – from me and on behalf of any other show don’t think it falls too lamentably short of the mark – to P.G. Wodehouse: a thank-you for all the pleasure his work has given. I have been reading him with joy and admiration for over half a century.” (Author’s Note by Sebastian Faulks)
I’ve checked out Jeeves and the Wedding Bells from the library on four separate occasions, always finding a reason to return it unread. I suppose I felt both that reading a Jeeves and Wooster not penned by Wodehouse would be bit of a betrayal, and also that a new one could never help living up to the original, so why bother? And yet, every so often I would hear a positive review and my curiosity would lead me to the library once more. In the end, the author’s note won me over. In it, Faulks admits that he’s merely writing fan fiction, and dares to hope merely that his work will bring a new readership to the old books. How could one take issue with such a timid, polite ambition?
After reading it, one cannot help but feel that Faulks’ assessment of his work was spot on. He doesn’t imitate Wodehouse perfectly – there are too many heavy handed historical references and muddled plot lines for that – but he does succeed in the summoning the essential Wooster reading experience of delight and lightheartedness. He also gives lifelong fans the happy ending denied them in the original series: an conclusion to Bertie’s seemingly life-long bachelorhood.