Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, the feckless young master and his erudite gentleman’s gentleman, creations of the great English humorist P.G. Wodehouse, are back, courtesy of his inspired fellow countryman and novelist Faulks (A Possible Life, 2012, etc.). This is the first Jeeves and Wooster novel in some 40 years.
Faulks notes modestly that he has “tried to provide an echo” of the originals. He has done more than that. He has captured Bertie’s voice, his innocent zest and his spirited banter with Jeeves to a fare-thee-well. This novel begins boldly with a role reversal—Bertie as servant waiting on Jeeves—but the real beginning is on the French Riviera, where Bertie meets a stunning beauty, Georgiana Meadowes. He’s smitten, she’s encouraging, but there’s a problem. Orphaned early, Georgiana has been raised lovingly by her uncle, Sir Henry Hackwood, currently strapped for cash. To help him save the family home, Georgiana feels obliged to marry a fella with moola: Her fiance has been designated. Back in London, there’s a further complication. Bertie’s best friend Woody had been engaged to Sir Henry’s daughter Amelia; a misunderstanding has caused the dear girl to break it off. Good egg that he is, Bertie sees his first order of business as reconciling Woody and Amelia. More misunderstandings ensue, resulting in Jeeves being mistaken for a peer of the realm by Sir Henry and invited to his home in deepest Dorset; to gain access to the premises, Bertie must willy-nilly become Jeeves’ manservant and fraternize below stairs. The comic possibilities are legion, and Faulks exploits them all, with Bertie threatening to land in the proverbial soup at every turn. Meanwhile, Jeeves, always a fount of knowledge, proves himself also a master strategist of the mating game. Bertie, still in thrall to his former teacher’s dictum (“Women are queer cattle”), needs nudging. A smackeroo on the lips from Georgiana during amateur theatricals does the trick.
Faulks has risen to the challenge splendidly with this "homage" to Wodehouse. Jeeves and Wooster live again!