So, this week I have been reading two books which are best described as ‘written in the style of’…..
First I read Sebastian Faulks’ homage to P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells and I have to say it compares very well, in my eyes, to the work of the master. Without resorting to being a mere parody Faulks seems to have captured the voices of both Bertie Wooster and Jeeves – there are some cracking one-liners in here – and the plot is suitably complex. Interestingly we see a slightly more mature Wooster – there are fleeting discussions of the General Strike, the suffrage movement and the Great War – and I felt that, at the end, he would settle into married life quite well. My only disappointment is that Fry and Laurie (whose voices I could hear in my head the whole time) are unlikely to reprise their roles to film this episode.
I decided to follow this up with Mansfield Revisited, by Joan Aiken, which is a reissue of a book I first read many years ago.
I am a great lover of Jane Austen’s work and Mansfield Park is probably my favourite Austen novel. I admire Fanny Price’s strength of character, but was always charmed by the Crawfords – luckily they play a major role in this story (even if Fanny is sent off to the West Indies in the opening chapters). I have read a number of sequels to Austen novels and. frankly, most of them have been very disappointing. Mostly because they don’t get the language right – too modern, too ‘sexy’ or just too stiff – but occasionally because the plots are so far removed from the originals. I also found that I was comparing them unfavourably with Joan Aiken’s efforts.
The tone of both of these books seem to me to be absolutely spot on. It is obvious that the authors are great lovers of their subject. Sebastian Faulks describes a scene from Wodehouse’s The Mating Season as his ‘favourite in the whole canon of English literature’ and Joan Aiken wrote a number of Austen-based stories, including a completion of the unfinished novel The Watsons. It is rather lovely to think of authors being fans, just like us.