on 8 October 2003
This story is written in the typical Tom Sharpe style (ie. hillarious and surreal)but the plot seems much more plausible. Basically, it is about an aged and very old-fashioned landowner, his equally eccentric and out of touch grandson, a middle aged woman who marries the former for his money, and her dopey daughter who marries the latter. Needless to say, the mother gets far more than she bargained for (eg.living in the back end of beyond, without her usual comforts, and with an over-sexed 90 year old). The real star of the show is the grandson (aka the Throwback) who moves to surburbia with his new wife and causes laugh out loud chaos. Throughout the book mystery surrounds the parentage of the Throwback-I won't spoil it, but it's a brilliant twist, and you won't guess it.
on 11 November 2003
I found The Throwback to be one of the funniest books ever drawn from the 'deranged' mind that is Tom Sharpe. The son, of who(?), is the nemisis of all that is ordered, sane and loyal. The grandfather (of who?) is as mad as a kipper. The wife....doh! The lawer, the butler, the taxidermist, the flawshounds......need I go on?
There is always a danger that his books will date, or become socially unnaceptable due to the changing values of todays readers (something which would be unfortunate and self parodying as the humour is always about challenging stupid social values).
However, The Throwback is self contained, without time and a joy to behold. Anyone not offended, or who doesn't laugh out loud at the same time, isn't reading it properly
on 24 January 2008
I first read this book many years ago, and continue to re-visit it to this day - it is the funniest novel I have ever read.
The first time I read the chapter about the old army colonel & the french letter I was sitting on the train travelling home, and got very odd looks from my fellow commuters - you cannot help but laugh out loud at the absurd but plausible scene that unfolds in the Colonels bedroom.
On lending the book to family members & friends, it has never returned, causing me to be on my 8th or 9th copy - it is that popular.
I don't think anything Tom Sharpe has done before or since live up to the quality of this book - although some come close.
on 7 May 2005
All I can say is that the scene where one of the neighbours attempts to remove his condom had me in pain from laughing so much.
Tom Sharpe is so funny he's off the scale, and this book is far and away the best.
on 19 March 2001
This book sums up Tom Sharpe. It is a fast, frantic and hillariously funny farce. The characters are humerously introduced (and in the course of the book removed in highly amusing ways) and the plot is gorgeously ridiculous. Complying with true Sharpe form this book is quite the most absurd piece of comedy you are likely to come accross and will leave you not only crying with mirth, but snorting with laughter, chortling with glee, and begging for more. Vintage Sharpe.
on 11 December 2001
This is the first Tom Sharpe book i have read after being told how funny it was. A little scepticle i began to read it, until the point came where it was impossible to put the book down.
on 26 June 2014
Read it years ago. Just sublime.
Not many books make me laugh out loud. This one made me luagh soo much I actually had to stop reading to let the tears and convulsions pass.
I wont spoil it.
The lead character comes to life on the pages and is difficult not to side with.
The Grandfather - you coudn't make him up - he has to have existed.
The story takes place in a small suburban close neara golf course and also in a desolate windswept moor with a famill estate. ~ all identifiable.
The supporting cast are all also identifiable. Mr S has a dsitinct take on the police and authority that re-occurs in earlier and later books. Here it's pitch may not be as manic as Els where (fans will geddit), but the situatuons and protagentists combine to make a scene that will live in my literary memory forever.
Some ofthe situations/scenes are adult but not offensive or obscene. As for the dog we had one of that breed and this made the whole book for me. And as I write I realise I am smiling at the memory of the prophylactic moment.
I could talk about most every page of the book. but wont. I'll just let you enjoy that experience.
If I have a regeret it is that i will never again be able to read it for the first time. On the flip side I know that every time I read it I will laugh and enjoy again moment i missed or forgot.
ACID TEST: would I buy it agian. in the blink of an eye. I have already bought several copies ofver the years. I have the first that was a present to me. That will never leave me. I have bought other copies to give as presents or lend to people who have never given it back - did they lose it- i belive they loved it so much they kept it.
on 18 September 2012
This is a seriously dark, malevolent farce - much as I love the gently romantic misunderstandings and necklace shenanigans of dear old P.G., we're not in Wodehouse territory here. This was written at the end of the 70's, the last gasp of the world as seen in 'Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads' before Thatcherism changed the UK for ever. It is a parable of what happens when the old-school, Edwardian squirearchy and its values (the Ancient Virtues and Mathematics) collide headlong with modernising Britain in 1978 (duplicitous accounting, tax inspectors, sexual promiscuity, gun laws and the homicidal possibilities of oven cleaner). Like any good farce, the plotting is at once intricate and ludicrous, and the characters are splendid stereotypes that develop with the plot into creatures you would never have imagined. This is the battle of 19th century humanist (though snobbish) values against 20th century selfish (though egalitarian) values - no-one is safe, no pretension is unpricked, and no gas oven remains unexploded. Violent, misanthropic, poetic fun.
The story follows Lockhart Flawse, bastard heir to a Northumbrian grandfather of wealth and Liberal education, and Fatalistic philosophy. He (LF) falls in love with Jessica, the daughter of a suburban widow and gold-digger, whom the grandfather ends up marrying as a quid-pro-quo for successfully matrimonially warehousing his idiot grandson. The two couples then experience what happens when the 19th century is forced upon the 20th (the grandfather and the mother) and vice-versa (the young couple)...with the terrible proviso that Lockhart, educated in the wild hills of Northumberland by his grandfather, has never learned the niceties of social suburban behaviour...like not firebombing your neighbours by means of revenge for cattle rustling...and cannot reasonably be said to be equipped for 20th century suburban life.
It's tremendous, rollicking fun, with a delicacy of touch usually denied to farce - this is the blackest and the broadest comedy without a syllable misplaced, without a single throwaway line of smut unconsidered for maximum comic effect. The whole book is a dark, warped comic fiesta of tremendous energy and vigour, and the whole job is a rattling good shocker - provided you are prepared to cry with laughter once the Italian taxidermist is unwillingly brought upon the scene.....
Tom Sharpe was born in London in 1928. He is perhaps best known for "Porterhouse Blue" and his Wilt series, both of which have been adapted for television. "The Throwback" is one of his standalone novels.
Lockhart Flawse has had a rather unusual upbringing. He was born in September 1956, in the shadow of a stone wall after his mother was thrown from her horse. Although he came through the labour alive - though, thanks to a patch of nettles, not entirely unscathed - his mother unfortunately didn't. This upset his grandfather, Edwin, somewhat - more so that she wasn't married and had steadfastly refused to name the boy's father. Lockhart was raised and educated entirely on his grandfather's estate. However, the lack of a birth certificate meant he didn't officially exist - his grandfather says he'll only register him when he knows who the father is. The education he received ensured he was an expert shot with excellent mental arithmetic and a high degree of fluency in Urdu, he knows somewhat less about human reproduction than his mother did.
Flawse the Elder is not an admirable character - it's entirely possible he was a close relation of Monty Burns. (He suffers from a nagging suspicion that he might be the Lockhart's father, as well as his grandfather - he's not entirely certain than a drunken encounter with the housekeeper wasn't a drunken encounter with someone else entirely). Unsurprisingly, he suffers from an acute superiority complex, enjoys hunting, fishing and shooting and - although he acknowledges that sex necessary for procreation - also takes the view that it's generally disgusting. However, when it comes to sex, he'll grasp every available opportunity to be disgusted.
Although Lockhart has had a very sheltered life, things change dramatically when he and his grandfather take a cruise. On-board, they meet the stunningly beautiful Jessica Sandicott and her widowed mother - naturally, the young couple fall head over heels in love and are swiftly married by the ship's captain. (This happens not only with the approval of their aged relatives, but practically at the insistence - they're both desperate to get rid of their dependents). However, as part of the negotiations, Edwin and Jessica's mother also wind up married. Mrs Sandicott is delighted, believing her new husband to be not only exceptionally rich, but also close to death. Unfortunately, it hasn't crossed her mind that she might be marrying someone at least as devious as she is : Edwin knows exactly what she is up to, and views her only as a housekeeper who will never need paying. On their return to England, the games the older pair play have all sorts of implications for the younger pair...and things turn a little dangerous when Edwin draws up his will. Luckily for the young couple, Lockhart proves to be every bit as devious as his grandfather. He can also rely on the help of Dodds, the gamekeeper at Flawse Hall, and two of his grandfather's old acquaintances: Dr Magrew and Mr Bullstrode, his solicitor.
A fast moving and occasionally daft book, though certainly funny and a very enjoyable read.
I have to confess to not having read Sharpe for years, when a friend recommended this to me I remembered how much I had enjoyed his other books and had no hesitation in giving it a whirl. He is hysterically funny. It's not often that I laugh out loud at a book, but there were several occasions when I found myself laughing uproariously, particularly the episode with the cheese grater and the hauntings. I don't want to say too much, because a lot of the joy of Sharpe is that he pushes what is funny to the very edge (and often over it) of what is acceptable and is as shocking as he is amusing. The story revolves around the hero, Lockhart Flawse and his marriage to the delightful Jessica. Both parties having been stitched up by their malevolent parents/guardians. Lockhart's endeavours to right ancestral wrongs and get his revenge on those who have thwarted him is both funny and at times tragic. As ever with Sharpe there is more than a touch of melancholy here, which throws the farcical nature of much of his writing into even sharper relief, but also provides respite for the reader in what could otherwise be a pantomime like romp through the darkest perversions of the human brain! The reason I didn't give it the final star is that it is, to my mind, somewhat dated in style, although if you can live with that you will be royally entertained.