Jeeves & the Wedding Bells

by Sebastian Faulks

Published 2013

Apologies – apparently I forgot to take a picture of this one before sending it back to the library!

So yes, here we have an actual Jeeves & Wooster book not written by P.G. Wodehouse.  What is this sacreligiousness, you ask?  It is, in fact, a surprisingly fun story written by someone who obviously loves Wodehouse’s work and characters.

Let’s be honest: I was more than a little terrified of this book.  I am a HUGE Wodehouse fan (for those of you who have only been following me for a day), and have recently been reading through all of the Wooster stories in their published order.  Then I saw that Faulks was publishing another book, with the permission of the Wodehouse estate, I was filled with equal parts horror and anticipation.  Then my book blog friend, FictionFan, published a review on the book.  I was stunned to find that the review was actually a positive one!  Since FictionFan holds Bertie and Jeeves in the same high esteem as myself, I was slightly more confident going into the reading that it wasn’t going to be absolutely dreadful.

Faulks is pleasantly candid about the fact that he knows he isn’t Wodehouse.  He writes the book, he tells us, out of a love for Wodehouse and his work, and a desire that perhaps a fresh story added to the collection will help to encourage a new generation of readers to pick up one of Wodehouse’s tales.  He has written a story that, I think, captures the essence of Wooster and Jeeves without attempting to be Wodehouse, and I think that that was what made this book readable.

The story was fun, with much chaos and role-swapping and assumed identities and star-crossed lovers (all Wodehouse hallmarks).  However, I never, at any point, forgot that I was reading the work of someone other than Wodehouse, and even if I had been given the story without any identifying features, I still would have known it wasn’t Wodehouse.  The main reason, as FictionFan also mentioned, was the way that Faulks introduced, for lack of a better term, real time into his story.

I think that one of the most wonderful parts of the Wodehouse stories is the way that they don’t actually fit into a real period of history.  It’s almost like he created an alternate universe, one in which the Great War never occurred and Britain didn’t lose such a huge number of their young men to the trenches and the horrors thereof.  In Wodehouse’s England, everything is lighthearted and merry; aunts and terriers are the most dangerous foes, and serious subjects (like death and illness and major familial strife) are more or less completely avoided.  That is what makes his books so genius and so completely uplifting and hilarious.  There is no dark matter, no background story, no historic setting.  Wodehouse’s stories take place in a world that has never existed, the early 1900’s without any wars or the Great Depression.

Faulks, in contrast, introduces historical context into the story multiple times.  Not in a long, drawn-out way, and not with specific dates, but he definitely mentions people dying on the Lusitania and other events that would have taken place around World War I.  The death of Bertie’s parents is spoken of as a reason for him to bond with the girl with whom he has fallen in love.  In short, the story is a bit more real, and thus not as light.

Some reviews that I have read have disagreed with having Bertie fall in love (for real this time), but I didn’t mind that part of  the story, even though it strays from Wodehouse formula (his stories tend to be a bit sitcomish – everyone more or less ends up where they started).  Wodehouse never really concluded the Wooster tales – he was still writing books at the time of his death.  Somehow, for me (perhaps because I’ve just read ALL of the Wooster stories), Faulks’s story seems like a fitting conclusion for the series – loose ends are tied and all is golden.

And I think that that was how I felt when I finished this book – I felt as though the story was really finished.  It was almost as though the Faulks story was an epilogue to all of the Wooster books Wodehouse had written.

Overall, this was a surprisingly enjoyable read.  While not imbued with Wodehouse magic, Faulks nevertheless brings to life Wooster and Jeeves and then sends them off into the sunset, content and companionable.  Definitely a recommendation for anyone who has loved that pair through the years.

The Cat-Nappers



by P.G. Wodehouse

Published 1974

And so we arrive at the final volume of Bertie/Jeeves adventures.  I don’t know that Wodehouse necessarily intended it to be the final volume (although he was in his 90’s when he wrote it, so he had to have at least suspected that it could be), and it is filled with precisely the sort of entanglements and misunderstands that compound every Wodehouse novel.

I have really, REALLY enjoyed reading all of the Bertie books in their published order.  While I had read almost all of them at one time or another, it had always been rather haphazard and slapdash, just grabbing up whatever one happened to be handy.  While each one reads independently without any trouble, reading them in order has really increased my enjoyment of each book.  Seeing characters reappear and watching background stories chase from one book to another just adds to the delight and the understanding of exactly how big of a pickle Bertie is in this time.

As always, Wodehouse’s knack of perfect description has to the potential to make me laugh out loud:

He couldn’t have been more emotional if he had been a big shot in the Foreign Office and I a heavily veiled woman diffusing a strange exotic scent whom he had caught getting away with the Naval Treaty.


The aunt to whom I alluded was my good and deserving Aunt Dahlia, not to be confused with my Aunt Agatha who eats broken bottles and is strongly suspected of turning into a werewolf at the time of the full moon.  Aunt Dahlia is as good a sort as ever said “Tally Ho” to a fox … If she ever turned into a werewolf, it would be one of those jolly breezy werewolves whom it is a pleasure to know.

Pure gold, folks.

As an aside, I accidentally checked out a large-print edition, so I felt like I was flying through this book.

The alternate title for this book is also its final line, and, to me, truly sums up not only this story, but every story Wodehouse ever wrote:  “Aunts aren’t gentlemen.”

So I’ve read three more P.G. Wodehouse books late, and rather than telling you how amazing they are (because they ARE), I’m just going to post up some quotes.  :-D  (Please note that I am “block quoting” every-other one so you can tell where one ends and new one begins, because I am positive that you will read them ALL.)

As an aside, it is SO MUCH FUN to read the Jeeves/Wooster books in order.  I had no idea how much they built on each other, but all the characters who revolve through his pages make a lot more sense reading the books in chronological order.  Even though each is perfectly readable as a stand-alone (that’s how I have always read them before!), the pleasure and humor is greatly added to by reading them in order.  Guys, these books are SO FUNNY.  The quotes below, while they make you smile, won’t make you laugh out loud as reading them in their proper context will.  I promise.  As the quote on the front cover on one edition assures you:  “It’s impossible to be unhappy while reading the adventures of Jeeves and Wooster.”  And that, my friends, is the truth.

I’ve seen him a couple of times in the [Rugby] arena and was profoundly impressed by his virtuosity.  Rugby football is more or less a sealed book to me, I never having gone in for it, but even I could see that he was good …  Like the Canadian Mounted Police, he always got his man, and when he did so the air was vibrant with the excited cries of morticians in the audience making bids for the body.  [1]

And so it came about that some five minutes later I stood once more outside the Blue Room with Bobbie beside me …  Knowing that Bobbie would be on sentry-go made all the difference.  Any gangster will tell you that the strain and anxiety of busting a safe are greatly diminished if you’ve a lookout man ready at any moment to say “Cheese it, the cops!”  [2]

“Do you recall telling me once about someone who told somebody he could tell him something which would make him think a bit?  Knitted socks and porcupines entered into it, I remember.”

“I think you may be referring to the ghost of the father of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, sir.  Addressing his son, he said, ‘I could a tale unfold whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood, make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres, thy knotted and combined locks to part and each particular hair to stand on end like quills upon the fretful porpentine.”

“That’s right.  Locks, of course, not socks.  Odd that he should have said porpentine when he meant porcupine.  Slip of the tongue, no doubt, as so often happens with ghosts.”  [2]

“I’ve seldom had a sharper attack of euphoria.  …  Mind you, I don’t know how long it will last.  Too often it is when one feels fizziest that the storm clouds begin doing their stuff.”

“Very true, sir.  Full many a glorious morning have I seen flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye, kissing with golden face the meadows green, gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy, Anon permit the basest clouds to ride with ugly rack on his celestial face and from the forlorn world his visage hide, stealing unseen to west with this disgrace.”

“Exactly,”  I said.  I couldn’t have put it better myself.  “One always has to budget for a change in the weather.”  [3]

“She’s like one of those princesses in the fairy tales who set fellows some task to perform, as it might be scaling a mountain of glass or bringing  her a hair from the beard of the Great Cham of Tartary, and gave them the brush-off when they couldn’t make the grade.”

I recalled the princesses of whom he spoke, and I had always thought them rather fatheads.  I mean to say, what sort of foundation for a happy marriage is the bridegroom’s ability to scale mountains of glass?  A fellow probably wouldn’t be called on to do it more than about once every ten years, if that.  [3]

It was one of those heavy, sultry afternoons when Nature seems to be saying to itself, “Now shall I or shall I not scare the pants off these people with a hell of a thunderstorm?”  [3]


[1] Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, 1962

[2]  How Right You Are, Jeeves, 1960

[3]  Much Obliged, Jeeves, 1971

The Return of Jeeves

(This story is included in a single-bound collection of five Wodehouse novels, so I don’t have a picture of it to share!)

by: P.G. Wodehouse

Published 1953

I had never before read this particular Wodehouse novel, and when I started it, I realized that Wodehouse had done the unthinkable:  He separate Bertie from Jeeves.  For the entire book.  I kid you not.

The story opens with Jeeves serving as a butler at Towcester Abbey, the ancestral home of William Egerton Osingham belfry, ninth Earl of Towcester, more commonly known as Bill.  I was quite distressed until Jeeves explained where Bertie had got to:

“My relations with Mr. Wooster continue uniformly cordial, but circumstances have compelled a temporary separation.  Mr. Wooster is attending a school which does not permit its student body to employ gentlemen’s personal gentlemen.”

“A school?”

“An institution designed to teach the aristocracy to fend for itself, m’lord.  Mr. Wooster, though his finances are still quite sound, feels that it is prudent to build for the future, in case the social revolution should set in with even greater severity.  Mr. Wooster – I can hardly mention this without some display of emotion – is actually learning to darn his own socks.  The course he is taking includes boot-cleaning, sock-darning, bed-making and primary-grade cooking.”

The story moves along with the usual Wodehouseian methods, and classic descriptions such as

It was one of those lovely nights which occur from time to time in an English June, mitigating the rigors of the island summer and causing manufacturers of raincoats and umbrellas to wonder uneasily if they have been mistaken in supposing England to be an earthly Paradise for men of their profession.

Still, though, it’s like chocolate without peanut butter.  It’s good, it’s fun, but you know it could be better.  My favorite part of the Jeeves stories is actually Bertie’s narration, and I missed it a great deal during this story.  It was a fun time, but I really felt as though the story could have been told without Jeeves, especially as some of his actions seemed out of character (dressing up in a ridiculously garish disguise to help Bill be a bookie?  What?!), so this Wodehouse garnishes a 3/5.

The Mating Season



by P.G. Wodehouse

Published 1949

I was reading this book while eating my lunch at the park, and kept getting weird looks because I was laughing out loud.  I honestly could not stop laughing at this book, which involves Wodehouse’s favorite ploy:  No one is going by their own name.

Here is what I don’t understand about Wodehouse: he often uses the same shtick, yet it’s always hilarious.  For instance, in this book, there is a community fundraiser, a kind of talent show where locals sing songs or recite poetry or whatever.  Wodehouse has used this same scenario in multiple other stories, yet this chapter was the funniest in the entire book; I tried to read the chapter out loud to Mom (she and I bond over our love for Wodehouse), and was laughing too hard to even finish reading it.  Truly, no one can describe a scene like this man can.  His ability to create the perfect simile is unparalleled.

Reading the Bertie and Jeeves books in order has been extremely fun.  Many of them I have read at various times and in random order, but reading them in their actual published order has enabled me to really enjoy the introduction and reintroduction of favorite characters, especially the many women Bertie finds himself engaged (and unengaged) to.

Highly recommend this Wodehouse; it’s a true classic.  5/5.

Joy in the Morning



by P.G. Wodehouse

Published 1947

Okay, so I realize that I said that The Code of the Woosters was probably my favorite Wodehouse book, but Joy in the Morning!  Well, it’s right up there, too.  Instead of talking about this book, I would simply like to quote for you its opening pages (the first sentence is one of Wodehouse’s most beautiful, I think):

After the thing was all over, when peril had ceased to loom and happy endings had been distributed in heaping handfuls and we were driving home with our hats on the sides of our heads, having shaken the dust of Steeple Bumpleigh from our tyres, I confessed to Jeeves that there had been moments during the recent proceedings when Bertram Wooster, though no weakling, had come very near to despair.

“Within a toucher, Jeeves.”

“Unquestionably affairs had developed a certain menacing trend, sir.”

“I saw no ray of hope.  It looked to me as if the blue bird had thrown in the towel and formally ceased to function.  And yet here we are, all boomps-a-daisy.  Makes one think a bit, that.”

“Yes, sir.”

“There’s an expression on the tip of my tongue which seems to me to sum the whole thing up.  Or, rather, when I saw an expression, I mean a saying.  A wheeze.  A gag.  What, I believe, is called a saw.  Something about Joy doing something.”

“Joy cometh in the morning, sir?”

“That’s the baby.  Not one of your things, is it?”

“No, sir.”

“Well, it’s dashed good,” I said.

And I still think there can be no neater way of putting in a nutshell the outcome of the super-sticky affair of Nobby Hopwood, Stilton Cheesewright, Florence Craye, my Uncle Percy, J. Chichester Clam, Edwin the Boy Scout and old Boko Fittleworth–or, as my biographers will probably call it, the Steeple Bumpleigh Horror.

If that doesn’t make you want to read Wodehouse, you simply weren’t meant to do so.

The Code of the Woosters



by P.G. Wodehouse

Published 1938

If you’ve read more than five of my posts, you’ve already realized that I am a huge fan of Wodehouse.  His mastery of description is beyond compare.  His characters are hilarious, his plot lines ludicrous, and he somehow manages to write entertaining and involving stores without a single true villain.

The Code of the Woosters is one of my very, very favorites of his (which is saying a lot).  Bertie is in prime form in this cow-creamer focused adventure.  Wodehouse’s plots are far too convoluted to attempt to summarize (whenever you do, it sounds ridiculous bizarre instead of hilarious).  I simply do not understand how, at the end of every single chapter, he can find one sentence that leaves feeling as though the rug has just been jerked out from beneath you, and whirls you into the next chapter.

All I can say is what I say every time I review a Wodehouse book: if you haven’t read one, your life has, hitherto, been a waste.  I recommend rectifying the situation ASAP.

Carry On, Jeeves



by P.G. Wodehouse

Published 1925

Isn’t this the creepiest cover art ever?!  I don’t know who designed these.  The actual editions of the books are delightful–perfectly bound and just the right size–but the covers!  Dreadful!

Luckily, the content is just as delightful as ever.  I do love Bertie and Jeeves; however, I am more fond of the full-length novels involving this pair than I am these collections of short stories.  This book is worth picking up, though, if for no other reason than the last story, told from the first-person view of, not Bertie (as usual) but Jeeves himself.  Perfect!


The Inimitable Jeeves



by P.G. Wodehouse

Published 1923

While this book does not include the first appearance of Jeeves, it is the first collection of short stories devoted solely to the famous butler and his lovable master.  If you have never read a Jeeves and Wooster book, stop whatever you’re doing right now and find one immediately.  These books are a treasure.

That said, I prefer some of Wodehouse’s later works of Jeeves, which are full-length.  While these short stories tie together loosely, each chapter is basically independent, and so, for me, the theme of “Bertie has a piece of clothing Jeeves doesn’t like.  Bertie has a problem.  Jeeves solves the problem.  Bertie gets rid of the despised piece of clothing” gets a little redundant.  But despite that, I still cannot read Wodehouse in public because I start laughing out loud and people look at me as though I’ve gone crazy.  He is a definite favorite.