Leslie Thomas - His Lordship (Pan, 1982: originally Michael Joseph, 1970)
'IN TWENTY MINUTES' SUSAN ANNOUNCED, 'I WILL BE SIXTEEN. I DECIDED THAT WHEN I SLEPT WITH YOU IT WOULD HAVE TO BE A CRIME OR NOTHING'
His Lordship was what the girls in the posh boarding school called William. He was their handsome tennis coach. They laid traps for him. They teased him. They were fond of him. Very fond. Which is why the story opens with William in a prison cell ...
'A girls' school that makes St Trinians sound like a nunnery' - THE LISTENER High jinks and low jinks... ripe comedy, very funny and an ingenious pay-off' - DAILY EXPRESS 'Highly entertaining' - SUNDAY MIRROR
Perhaps I'm having an unduly squeamish moment as, up 'til now, it's been unheard of for me to come across *smirk* a novel so pervy I feel creepy even as I'm reading it, but what to make of His Lordship?
The novel chronicles the misadventures of William Bridgemont Herbert, thirty-five, who, when we meet him, is languishing in Wandsworth prison on remand and staring down the barrel of a minimum ten-year stretch. Up until his arrest on a variety of charges, William was employed as the Tennis Coach at Southward, a board school for girls on the Sussex Downs. William's chief duty was to prepare a team to retain the Clifton Tennis Cup from their local rivals. Needless to say, the girls, led by rich American Connie Rowan, are soon falling over themselves to get William into bed, while he spends what little time he has between training and sexual conquests spying on their dorm via the loft. The parents of the sixteen-year-old's and above needn't worry, though. It's not them he's interested in ....
His Lordship is not without some mildly chortle-some moments, notably the several exchanges between William and 'Rufus', the bent, serial nose-tweaking detective who "befriends" him in Wandsworth, and a curiously poignant episode which sees William spending Christmas in Soho - but can't help thinking that, had His Lordship been sub-titled 'the lighter side of Paedophilia', the Daily Express critic may have been less lavish in his or her praise.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty. - Christine Campbell Thomson