This exceptional novel explores the complex relationship between Hanna and Michael against a backdrop of post war Germany and the differing impact of guilt for their respective generations. The tale of the central relationship is sensitively told and the difficult context is examined through their respective experiences. The temptation for scapegoating, to absolve the ‘guilt’ of the many on the shoulders of a few, also resonates with more contemporary social upheavals. The issue of literacy simply accentuates the disadvantage faced by those outsiders to the mainstream culture. A thoroughly absorbing read.
A chronicle of Porterhouse College, Cambridge, the acidly-Sharpe humour served up by the author is as sumptuous as a fellows feast. Dripping with hysterical characters, the book plots the chaotic attempts to spare the ancient institution from financial ruin, led by a coterie of dysfunctional men marooned in a glorious past, which is slowly and painfully being eroded. The Master (Skullion), formerly the Head Porter, the Dean, Senior Tutor, Bursar and Praelector conspire and scheme and cross metaphorical swords with a media magnate and gangster for the greater good of Porterhouse. The Machiavellian plot twists unstintingly with laugh-out-loud moments sprinkled throughout. Tom Sharpe is rightly regarded as a great post-Waugh humorist and guardian of the national funny bone. Very highly recommended.