Thursday, July 01, 2010

Tom Sharpe, The Gropes,* 2009.

I loved Blott on the Landscape as a lad: it's funny, sharp, biting in just the right ways, and does a marvellous job of skewering people's self-importance. So given the opportunity to read another by Sharpe--my father bought it as a plane book, and then left it lying around--I picked it up. It's a palate-cleanser, but nothing more. The plot of The Gropes is well enough done: an odd, matriarchal family combined with a gormless bank manager, his doppelgänger son, and romance novel-obsessed wife combined with her brother who might be a minor or even major criminal leads to silliness and suspicion. It falls a bit flat at the end, although I suspect most readers will find themselves almost happy for the bank manager--but all in all, there's nothing in this book to make me want to recommend it to anyone. If you happen to be renting a cottage and it's lying around and you forget your newly acquired copy of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet at home, sure, give it a read. Otherwise, buy and read Mitchell's new book instead.

* Why no link? Well, Amazon was about my only option. While I do buy books from Amazon on occasion, I try to avoid it. So--if you want to acquire this book (or any other!) check out your local bookstore. In the Hamilton area, I strongly recommend Bryan Prince Bookseller, where I picked up The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet yesterday...

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