The obvious (to me) minimum requirement for a good day at the beach is a Wodehouse novel, a comfortable chair and a good cooler full of foodstuffs. So picture my alarm on going to the local library, en route to said beach, and finding the shelves empty of Wodehouse scribblings. One of the excellent library staff pointed out that there is a writer who has written a tip of the hat to the Comic Master, so I borrowed that book “Jeeves and the Wedding Bells”.
There’s a certain charm about a forgery when it’s clear it’s a “homage”. Sebastian Faulks has written a homage to P G Wodehouse, called “Jeeves and the wedding bells”.
The idea is that it should point the way to the Real Thing, by showing new and younger readers the comic delights of Wodehouse prose. As a lifetime reader of P G, I found the book a little difficult to cope with. It was a faint echo of the real thing. Tremendous chutzpah, if that is the word for it, to attempt, but like re-enacting the Battle of Hastings with an assortment of pleasure seekers on the beach at Dover…. somewhat lacking the energy of the original, eh what? Not quite getting it over to the local peasantry.
Mr Wodehouse has such a strong writing style, that he is easy to copy for a very short time, a few pages, perhaps a short story. But this book highlights how impossible it is to have the thousand twists and turns that flesh is heir to, as that chappy William Shake something or other would say. What the average reader on the Clapham Omnibus wants is a book which cuts straight to the action in scene one, whereas in the hands of Mr Faulks, there is an overlong Chapter One to introduce us to the dramatis personnae. There’s a fair bit of humming and clearing the throat before we get to the main course as it were.
The best part about the book was at the back – the invitation to have a gander at the Wodehouse society facebook page and website. The contrast of social media and nearly a century old fiction causes the old melon to throb a bit, with a fair bit of Bobby Wickhamesque crashing of gears.