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The landscape is flawless, the trees majestic, the flora and the fauna are right and proper, the whole is picturesquely typical of rural England at its best. Sir Giles, an MP of few principles and curius tastes, plots to destroy all this by building a motorway smack through it, to line his own pocket and at the same time to dispose of his wife, the capacious Lady Maude. Sir Giles recruits to his side Hoskins, a corrupt local official, Lord Leakham, the environmental equivalent of a hanging judge, and Dundridge, a troublesome bureaucrat with an unhealthy passion for order. Against this powerful lobby are ranged a mere handful of local residents led by Lady Maude. Hardly at first sight a team to withstand the batteries of official inertia, Compulsory Purchase Orders and bulldozer blades. But Lady Maude enlists a surprising ally in her enigmatic gardener Blott, the Dresden born, ex-Italian naturalised Englishman, in whom adopted patriotism burns bright. Lady Maude's dynamism and Blott's concealed talents enable them to meet pressure with mimicry, loaded tribunals with publicity and chilli powder, requisition orders with wickedly spiked beer.
To every official ploy Blott and Lady Maude oppose their own ingenious and unprincipled countermove until in a spectacular finale Blott, with four hundred tins of baked beans among his armoury, takes on the army single-handed. This explosively comic novel will gladden the heart of everyone who has ever confronted a bureaucrat, and spells out in riotous detail how the forces of virtue play an exceedingly dirty game when the issue is close to home.
Tom Sharpe was born in 1928 and educated at Lancing College and Pembroke College, Cambridge. He did his national service in the Marines before moving to South Africa in 1951, where he did social work before teaching in Natal. He had a photographic studio in Pietermaritzburg from 1957 until 1961, and from 1963 to 1972 he was a lecturer in History at the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. He is the author of sixteen bestselling novels, including Porterhouse Blue and Blott on the Landscape, which were serialised on television, and Wilt, which was made into a film. In 1986 he was awarded the XXIIIeme Grand Prix de l'Humour Noir Xavier Forneret, and in 2010 he was awarded the inaugural BBK La Risa de Bilbao Prize. Tom Sharpe died in June 2013 at his home in northern Spain.