The Wilt Inheritance by Tom Sharpe
|The Wilt Inheritance by Tom Sharpe|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Not Sharpe's best work, but still an amusing and engaging farce.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: May 2011|
Wilt is stuck in a job he doesn't want – teaching a subject he's not keen on to people for whom he has no affection – at one of the new Universities. We used to know them as technical colleges. But he can't afford to lose it because of the expense of keeping the quads at an expensive school and of maintaining his snobbish wife, Eva. It's Eva though who signs him up for a job in the summer holidays – tutoring the step-son of a local aristocrat in the hope of getting him into Cambridge – and particularly Porterhouse College. It's not long before Wilt discovers that the boy totes a gun a shoots at anything which moves – or even doesn't move – and that he's an idiot who would probably struggle to get a bus to Cambridge.
It's a quarter of a century since I sat on a train reading Porterhouse Blue. I couldn't stop laughing and I had tears running down my face. I passed the book on to my husband, who didn't believe that it could be that funny. Different train journey – same result. We both read some more of Sharpe's work. It was amusing, but it wasn't Porterhouse Blue. We drifted away. I mention this because it's very difficult to judge a book by a writer who has written what you consider to be a brilliant book in the past. You judge the new book not by the generality of books in the genre, but against that one, perfect book and somehow the new book is always going to be found wanting.
Sharpe has a great talent for taking a believable situation and pushing the boundaries not quite to the point where the story is unbelievable. There's the quads, who worried me at first because they seemed to be little more than an amorphous mass. Then I realised that they were a despicable, cruel, amoral amorphous mass, with no feelings for anyone and probably not even for themselves. Think of them as a weapon of mass destruction on eight legs. Wilt's wife has social climbing perfected to international level, but can't quite cope with Lady Clarissa, Wilt's summer employer. As for Wilt himself – he's a magnet for whatever trouble is going.
It's farce with a very dark edge and no concessions to the sensibilities. It might not be laugh-out-loud funny but it certainly gets many a titter and a few wry smiles. Most of it is sharp (no pun intended) and fast-moving. Unfortunately, it's not Porterhouse Blue.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For a look at something by the master of farce, on the lighter side of the genre, try Thank You, Jeeves by P G Wodehouse.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Wilt Inheritance by Tom Sharpe at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Wilt Inheritance by Tom Sharpe at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.