Wilt was first published in 1976, so it has a slightly dated feel now. The character of American Sally Pringsheim spouts a ridiculous version of Women’s Lib, which was still big at the time. However, it’s still a great book. It’s pretty rare to find yourself chuckling manically as you read, and the jokes and the absurd scenes keep coming.
Simple synopsis: hen-pecked Henry Wilt is a mild-mannered teacher in the Liberal Studies department of his local Tech. He teaches literature to plumbers, butchers, gas-fitters and the like. His wife Eva is a force of nature: house proud, empty headed, given to sudden enthusiasms and desperate to be “with it”. She persuades Wilt to attend a party at the Pringsheim’s, where an unfortunate incident with a sex doll kicks off the action. The Pringsheims convince Eva to come away on a canal boat with them, and when they can’t be found, Wilt is charged with their murder. Henry, suffering sleep deprivation after interminable interviews, concocts an absurd confession that has Inspector Flint wanting to recall all the pork pies recently made.
The satire is bitingly funny. The education system, the police, egotistical academics, pompous teachers of flower arranging ... they all come in for shafting at Tom Sharpe’s clever hand. It would be great to see the 1989 movie version starring Gryff Rhys-Jones.