's first novel. Very loosely autobiographical (see Moab is My Washpot
for his real autobiography) based his experiences at Cambridge, which expelled him, and in public school
. Like most novels about British public schools
(and most of Fry's novels), this novel contains an element (or two, or three) of homosexuality
The protagonist is an ex-hustler and thief who has slid his way through school and life, and gets caught by a professor when he plagiarzes a term paper. The professor challenges him to create a single original piece of work, and catapults him into a network of espionage (the novel is set during the Cold War), which reminded me a bit of John Fowles' novel the Magus.
Like most of Fry's novels, this was a bestseller in the United Kingdom, and I highly recommend it. Fry is witty, intelligent, and has an outstanding perspective on life that permeates his writing. I preferred the Hippopotamus, but this is also an oustanding read.