Imagine PG Wodehouse with a twist: Could Jeeves become gamekeeper to Wooster’s poacher?

Sebastian Faulks’s homage to Woodhouse is out on Thursday

It was one of those November mornings when the heavens open like a cold shower at some below-par preparatory school and the day dawns grey and grim as one of Aunt Agatha’s frowns. Although a silver pot of the murkiest brew did its bit to lift the spirits of your special correspondent Bertram Wooster, my bleary eye then turned to the object beside the breakfast tray. A book, no less. The old heart sank a notch or two. It has a habit of doing that whenever the estimable Jeeves takes it on himself to educate his employer, who has never pretended to be the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer.

Which weighty tome had the indispensable gentleman’s gentleman chosen to inflict on yours truly? Perchance a brain-scrambling chunk of Kant, Spinoza or some other pointy-headed Teuton of the kind Jeeves browses for a little light relief. But no: Jeeves and the Wedding Bells proclaimed a cover dressed up in a style that some chap in faded corduroys at the Slade would no doubt call “Art Deco”. Hey-ho, I thought. That amiable leech PG Wodehouse has been sucking our blood again to concoct another of those implausible tales in which Jeeves glides through every obstacle like a sleek pike in a pool. Then the plot thickened. The author’s name was “Sebastian Faulks”. I knew a Faulks at Malvern House. Rum cove: always writing stories. Had the infant scribbler returned to cash in on my literary fame?

Not before time, the oracle himself emerged to lighten our darkness.

“I say Jeeves, I thought that friend Wodehouse had a pretty tight grip on our adventures? The ‘franchise’ as our pals across the pond say. How did this Faulks fellow buy himself a slice of pie?”

That colossus of the buttling arts drew himself up to his full height. My job, I knew, was to maintain a positively golden silence as his words of wisdom wafted into the shell-like.

“Sir, perhaps I may venture a few remarks on the state of the publishing industry. Times are, it seems, hard. In such a climate the best-loved ‘brands’, as they say, shine with an ever-greater lustre. What finer ruse, then, than to invite the most esteemed authors of today to don the garb of their illustrious predecessors?  Joanna Trollope has rewritten Miss Austen’s Sense & Sensibility for the age of what are called ‘social media’. William Boyd has penned a new escapade for Commander James Bond. Sophie Hannah, a writer of ‘psychological thrillers’ and erstwhile poet, has been authorised by the estate of Dame Agatha Christie to devise a new mystery for Monsieur Hercule Poirot.”

Early as the hour was, the conjunction of those dread words “psychological” and “Agatha” almost drove me out of the house to seek solace in a stiff one at the Drones. Yet the fount of all knowledge had not yet vouchsafed me with the “low-down” on Faulks. I did not have to wait for long.

“Most unfortunately, Mr Wodehouse is unavailable for further engagements. I understand that Mr Faulks has enjoyed considerable success as an author, not least with a most affecting novel about the Great War. Moreover, he has always expressed his admiration for those stories in which the routine exercise of my professional skills has found some small favour with the reading public.”

“Dash it, Jeeves. I didn’t always like the way that Wodehouse made me look about as bright as a mole in a mine. You have to hand it to the old buffer, though: he had my lingo down to a tee.”

“A most interesting observation, sir. Peruse Mr Faulks’s preface and you will note that he has wisely eschewed any attempt at exact impersonation. He avows that he ‘didn’t want to write too close an imitation of that distinctive music for fear of sounding flat or sharp’. He has, however, taken one liberty of which I fear you will not wholeheartedly approve.”

“Which is? Out with it, Jeeves. The tenterhooks are beginning to draw blood.”

“You are the servant, sir, and I am your master.”

“ -------------.” Words did not so much fail me as hang me out to dry in a January Force Nine.

“Mr Faulks imagines, I suspect, that many readers today felt less than comfortable with such a relationship as ours unless served up with a  ‘democratic’ twist.”

“Bunkum and balderdash, Jeeves. Oofy Prosser, our resident plutocrat over at the Drones, tells me that a modest Mayfair abode such as this would now strain even the moolah-stuffed wallet of a Chicago meat-packing millionaire. ‘To him that hath’ etcetera.”

“I bow to your perspicacity, sir. It would appear that the Great British Public will happily tolerate extremes of inequality and privilege in life but likes to see them temporarily reversed in literature.”

“My sentiments entirely, Jeeves. And talking of service with a twist, surely the hour for a refreshing Green Swizzle must soon be nigh?”

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished

TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies

Arts and Entertainment
Australia's Eurovision contestant and former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian

Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable