Pick of the Week: Jeeves and the Wedding Bells

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I've been meaning to read comic writer P.G. Wodehouse's works for a long time, but somehow never got around to it. So when a homage to Wodehouse came out recently by Sebastian Faulks called Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, I decided to give it a go.

Wodehouse first caught my attention when I noticed he was mentioned so often by other writers when asked whose work they admired, including George Orwell, Lev Grossman and Christopher Hitchens. Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, declared that "Wodehouse is the greatest comic writer ever.'' Even Agatha Christie dedicated one of her novels to Wodehouse, "whose books and stories have brightened my life for many years.''

The Wodehouse family hoped that Faulks' book would introduce new readers to the delightful characters of Jeeves and Wooster and Wodehouse's other extensive works. Wodehouse wrote about the duo's misadventures in dozens of short stories and 11 novels over a period of more than 50 years. Bertram "Bertie'' Wooster is a young, well-to-do British gentleman who manages to get into all sorts of scrapes. He often is rescued by his brilliant valet, Jeeves, who quotes Plato and Shakespeare with ease. The stories generally take place in the early 1900s, before the Great War.

In their latest adventure, Bertie is summoned to the estate of Sir Henry Hackwood to help his childhood friend, Woody, mend fences with his fiancée, Amelia, who is Sir Henry's daughter. Bertie is ecstatic  when he finds that the beautiful Georgiana Meadows, whom he met in France, also is at the estate.

Through some comic twists, Jeeves ends up being mistaken for the gentleman, while Bertie pretends to be Jeeves' valet, Wilberforce. Jeeves of course is wonderful in his role and fits right in, especially with his knowledge of horseracing. Bertie, who can't even make a cup of tea, struggles with his part.

The result is hilarious fun. I enjoyed this book so much that I hope Faulks continues to write about Bertie and Jeeves. He certainly left the door open for sequels. In the meantime, I look forward to exploring the delights of P.G. Wodehouse.

--Jo Hansen, jhansen@cooklib.org


Jo Hansen has been a Readers’ Advisor at Cook Library for several years, after a 20-year career as a newspaper journalist. Libraries rock! She especially enjoys literary and historical fiction as well as mysteries and fantasy. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she enjoys playing with her chocolate Labrador Yogi Bear and watching great movies.