Jeeves and the King of Clubs (2018)

Ben Schott

For the P.G. Wodehouse fan the idea of bringing back such a beloved duo such as Jeeves and Wooster will either bring out delight or dread. Indeed, the words you find others using often reveals their framing of such endeavours; is this a tribute, homage, pastiche, an imitation…?

Whilst neither parody nor insult, let us start with the "most disagreeable, sir." Rather jarring were the voluminous and Miscellany-like footnotes that let you know that the many allusions and references are all checked, correct and contemporaneous. All too clever by half and would ironically be a negative trait if this was personified by a character within the novel itself. Bertie's uncharactestic knowledge of literature was also eyebrow-raising: whilst he should always have the mot juste within easy reach — especially for that perfect parliamentary insult — Schott's Wooster was just a bit too learned and bookish, ultimately lacking that blithe An Idiot Abroad element that makes him so affably charming.

Furthermore, Wodehouse's far-right Black Shorts group (who "seek to promote the British way of life, the British sense of fair play and the British love of Britishness") was foregrounded a little too much for my taste. One surely reaches for Wodehouse to escape contemporary political noise and nonsense, to be transported to that almost-timeless antebellum world which, of course, never really existed in the first place?

Saying that, the all-important vernacular is full of "snap and vim", the eponymous valet himself is superbly captured, and the plot has enough derring-do and high jinks to possibly assuage even the most ardent fan. The fantastic set pieces in both a Savile Row tailor and a ladies underwear store might be worth the price of admission alone.

To be sure, this is certainly ersatz Wodehouse, but should one acquire it? «Indeed, sir,» intoned Jeeves.