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Familiar Territory - but Familiar Fun
on 22 January 2011
I am somewhat surprised at all the negative comments, but they are all from devout Sharpe fans. If you are not a regular reader of Tom's efforts, do not let those impressions influence you negatively.
It is true that the "goings-on" have been created from a somewhat standard Sharpe "template" and the character types a little regurgitated from earlier works. However, if you hark back to the beginnings, Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure were packed to the rafters with the most improbable, unbelievable and impossible situations. Each subsequent Tom Sharpe tome followed this trend - but each was hailed for it's "lunatic fantasy" or "fiendish inventiveness."
Here in "The Gropes" we have much of the same, but told in such delightfully Tom Sharpe fashion. The wording - whether descriptive or dialogue - is very much the stuff that makes you laugh out loud (embarrassingly if on a Bus or Train) or puts a smile on your face while you shake your head in disbelief.
It is pure farce, built from the same rocks as Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors," the old "Brian Rix Farces" on TV or even "Fawlty Towers." You cannot help but laugh at situations brought about by total misunderstandings, jumping to conclusions, misinterpretations and Tom Sharpe's open ridiculing and obvious contempt (perhaps) for the Police Force.
For newcomers to Sharpe, or for the occasional reader even, this book is guaranteed to amuse, bemuse and - despite the poor ending - leave you wanting more. Tom Sharpe DOES have an inventive mind... for situations that most people couldn't even think possible. That's the beauty and glory of it all.