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on 22 January 2001
If you have read Riotuos Assembly and Indecent Exposure you may find this book a little less erratic. And maybe thats because its closer to home. Set in the University town of Cambridge the story is set around a very conservative university that survives by selling degrees to the rich and at all costs not letting 'real intellectuals' to enter. So when the Prime Minister appoints his most socialist of ministers, Sir Godber Evans - an ex Porterhouse student, to the post of Master the rest of the Fellows are united to prevent his 'radical changes' going forward. However the hero/villan of the story is not the Dean, the Bursarer or the Chaplain but the Colleges Porter - Skullion. Skullion, the 45 year serving head Porter has no illusions that it is as much his duty as any one elses to prevent the new master from fixing what is not broken, and he will do anything he can!
This book is more than funny, it is witty, clever and above all totally beliveable. When you read Tom Sharpes work it is hard to believe that his books are nearly 30 years old, yet as relevant as ever. If you love people like Ben Elton and his dry humourous, yet realistic books then you will LOVE Tom Sharpe who invented it!
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on 2 June 2000
Porterhouse Blue is without doubt one of Tom Sharpe's funniest books. I remember reading it for the first time some years ago. I had picked it up at Heathrow prior to boarding a New York bound 747. I think the stewardess thought I was having a seizure - people do not normally sit in an airline seat and laugh until they cry! Such was the effect of this story. I think it should be prescribed on the National Health, make people forget their ills. Brilliant read.
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on 24 December 2002
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read as well as a good laugh. This is British humour at its best, tragic and hilarious at the same time. The author is focusing his imagination in a series of well coordinated events which keep the reader in suspense up to the end.
Believe me, if you feel down, go and buy yourself a copy, this book will cheer you up !
As for me, well, I am looking forward to starting another of Tom Sharpe's intelligent and funny story !!
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on 24 December 2009
Tom Sharpe is an author of extraordinary degree. Porterhouse Blue is a brilliant and funny novel. It is set in and about a fictional Cambridge college, Porterhouse. The college is bound and defined by tradition (e.g. serving swan at high table!), until this is threatened by the arrival of a new master, appointed on behalf of the college visitor (the Queen) when the previous master died without naming his successor. The main protagonist is the college porter Scullion, who fights to the end to maintain the college traditions. Along the way we encounter Zipser, perhaps the only research student in the college. In a hilarious sequence, Zipser falls for the rather buxom bedder and attempts the purchase of "contraceptives", quite contrary to college guidelines. Out of embarassment, he ends up with several boxes. He attempts to dispose of them by filling them with natural gas and floating them up through the chimney. This leads to one of the funniest scenes in 20th Century English literature. I shall not say much further - except that Skullion "saves" the college.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book to all readers - even the stone-hearted will find something to laugh about here.
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on 14 July 1999
Porterhouse Blue is an amazingly funny bok that achieves it's excessive humour by putting the charactrs in it in just possible situations that result in disasterous consequences. The book is set in a very old and corrupt school that allows only very rich students to enter, the pays for their degree. on the arrival of a new head, the old-sytle masters become very worried about the inevitable change that will occur. The stout porter comes to their rescue, but what exactly he does, you will have to find out by reading this side-splitting book !
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VINE VOICEon 7 September 2008
You might have heard of Tom Sharpe because of the film Wilt or perhaps because of the series Blott on the Landscape or even Porterhouse Blue. He is one of the funniest authors ever, and this is where you should start. If you want to read the best of his novels then this is it.

As someone who has spent far too much of his life inside these "ivory towers" this is a gem. The characters are as real today as when he wrote the book thirty years ago. Some things never change.
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Tom Sharpe’s satirical novel on University and shenanigans is still a good read, and in some ways just as relevant as when it was first written. Porterhouse is one of the Cambridge colleges, albeit rather a second rate one. Turning out men who quite often end up in influential positions the college has no great academicians. Concentrating more on winning sporting trophies the college is elitist in its own way, taking on the more dim-witted sons of the rich who would not get in anywhere else, and getting them degrees, all for money.

When a new Master is needed the Government manage to foist Sir Godber onto the college, who they have been trying to get rid of. Sir Godber has big plans for the college, but will everyone see things his way? With his in-fighting with the staff, an undergraduate managing to kill himself and another, whilst damaging the building with gas filled prophylactics, things are not going to plan.

With the Head Porter, Skullion, a man who knows his place and is just as much a traditionalist as other staff members chaos is about to fall on the college, especially so when a former student and now TV journalist gets called in.

A good read, this takes a comic look at bigotry, sexism and racism and is a biting satire on how things still are to a certain extent. We all know about Prime Ministers and others getting places by networking due to the Old School Tie, and this book reminds us of that, and also makes you think about tradition and the unwillingness to change. Admittedly not all change is good, and life wouldn’t be so interesting without some traditions, but some of this will have you chuckling with the traditionalists here seeing the old times through rose tinted glasses. Admittedly this won’t necessarily be for a lot of people, but it still makes a very entertaining read.
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on 13 October 2015
I first read this shortly after it was first published and I had just moved to Cambridge. I was astonished to find how cold and bleak an East Anglian winter could be; it was even colder than in Scotland.

I was to learn that Cambridge in the wintertime was very different from summer when the town is packed with tourists and the Cam filled with punts. The center at that time was creepy and dark at night, with little street lighting, and reminded me of Edinburgh.

“Porterhouse Blue” occurs in those bleak months when a freezing wind blows right across the North Sea over the fens and right into your bones.

The action takes place in a college where a new master tries to initiate reforms and is opposed by reactionary academics who are more interested in the college's traditional emphasis on overeating and sports.

The book is dominated by the head porter Skullion, a character who deserves a place among the greats of English literature Skullion is as reactionary as the people who have been exploiting him for almost half a century and represents the English bulldog character who allows himself to be mistreated in return for a pat on the head by his betters.

Tom Sharpe did not go in for particularly subtle humor and some parts of the book are over the top but the ending is sublime – comic and cruel at the same time – as Skullion finally triumphs only to find he cannot enjoy the power he has finally obtained.
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on 2 November 2012
It was just bad luck I began reading Tom Sharpe with the incoherent The Wilt Inheritance, a novel (allegedly) so bad that I thought I'd been the victim of a practical joke. 'Persevere and try an earlier one', said a friend, so I did and it was Porterhouse Blue. Sharpe blasts powerfully away at a type of academia that exists only to provide brainless hooray-Henrys with rowing and rugger clubs, lazy academics with lavish Feasts, and working class lackeys (Skullion) with rotten jobs they both hate and cherish. The gas-filled prophylatics episode is great but even better is the mortally injured Master calling his wife for help at the Samaritans and eliciting only hearty exhortations to snap out of it, chin up, as she gets the wrong end of the stick - as she does with everything. Excellent stuff, though what anyone unfamiliar with the English class system makes of it is a mystery.
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This is the Tom Sharpe book I have the most affection for and which, twenty years after first reading it, still makes me cry with laughter.

The characterisation is sharp to the point of danger, the dialogue is superb and the underlying pathos of the whole situation just makes the funny scenes even more funny. The book is almost physical agony to read as you writhe one minute from the discomfort and empathy with the humiliation the characters endure and the next because you are doubled up with laughter.

All Sharpe's books are funny, but this is my all time favourite. The piece de resistance in my opinion being the condoms up the chimney episode.

A must read.
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