Plot – lots of characters’ lives interweave during a week in December in London. It is a so-called state of the nation novel but I found it a bit predictable. It contains the typical characters found in the media today – the suicide bomber, the reality TV obsessed stoner, the tube driver who lives her life through an internet reality game, and the money obsessed hedge fund manager, who is truly despicable. The problem is that there are just too many characters to really engage with them all, for example a celebrity footballer character makes a brief appearance but fails to do very much of any interest or plot development.
The characters mostly are out of touch with reality; there is a literally insane reality show which is particularly awful. Overall I was rather disappointed, it is not one of Faulks’ best books and this novel seems to just attack all the obvious targets and says nothing that most people would disagree with so it seems a bit of a waste of time.
Carrying on with the Stephen Fry obsession and because of watching Sebastian Faulks’ ‘Faulks on Fiction’ I decided to return to reading a Jeeves and Wooster story.
The plot is the same as ever, Bertie trying to avoid marriage and taking the blame for something he didn’t do. In this case he must help Gussie Fink-Nottle to reconcile with Madeline Basset or there is the danger that she will want to marry him. Also his Aunt Dahlia enlists Bertie to sneer at and then steal the silver cow creamer (modern Dutch) that Sir Watkin Basset has cheated them out of. So what follows are lots of capers involving stealing policeman’s helmets, vicious dogs etc. and Jeeves as always sorting out the solution to them. One of the funniest parts of this book involves Reginald Spode, also referred to by Bertie as the Dictator who leads a group of fascist shorts-wearers. I particularly like this as it reminded me of the comment (can’t remember who said it) about how the English just can’t take fascists seriously and just have to take the mick.
The most frustrating part is that it is just the same as every other Jeeves and Wooster novel (although it doesn’t help that I have read it before). You just want to kill Bertie – why does he just never say no to any of these people? Oh because there won’t be any story otherwise.
The point that Faulks makes in the episode entitled the Snob (which is great by the way – watch it, c25 minutes) is that Jeeves is a snob but also a social engineer. Despite the fact that he is the servant he controls the master, he is able to manipulate the characters into behaving in the way he wants them to. Faulks makes the point that it is in Jeeves’ interests to help Bertie avoid marriage or his job will be in peril. He always gets his way as seen by his getting the cruise he wants by the end of the novel but Faulks argues that although Jeeves always wins the battles he will lose the overall war because he is a reactionary whose code book will eventually become less accepted as he fails to adapt to change.