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Remember all those grand screwball comedies in which a dizzy female tagalong (Dunne/Hepburn-style) bedeviled a steady, serious male (H. Fonda/Grant-style)? Well, in this novelization of a soon-to-be-released British film, scriptwriter Brooks reverses the roles--casting a woman as the somber one, plagued by a nutty, adorable male in a series of pratfall adventures. Sally Francis, one of a trio of feminist activists who have built their own jeep, finds herself in need of a travel-mate to jeep to Munich for a feminist conference. Her ad in the classifieds specifies a German-speaking, mechanically-minded, vegetarian woman. But the ad's only answer comes from. . . Harry Hummel, baggy in seersucker, with spaniel eyes, hoping his boyish charm--and his ""Glad to be Gay"" button--will overcome his decided lack of class. Sally is semi-convinced. So off they go, as Harry's phony qualifications quickly fall by the roadside in a string of disasters. A struggle with a wet tent leads to a party with a congenial group of police--revealing Harry's lack of German and his non-vegetarian taste for sausage. He drives the jeep into water, thoughtfully dries their passports on a twig by a campfire, but soon sets the jeep afire while attempting to fix the stereo. Understandably, then, Harry is given his walking papers--while Sally recovers in the plush home of German friends. But Harry will reappear again and yet again; and, en route to their final reunion, he acquires enthusiastic buddies (from Turkish workers to a British Army boozing-champ) and reveals the true reason for his Munich trip. (Also soon evident: Harry is not gay, Sally feels an inexplicable liking for the far-from-ideal travel companion, and ""if the earth didn't move, at least a few tent pegs were shaken."") More a puffed-up script, heavy on visual capers, than a fully-realized novel--but mildly entertaining in a screwball/sit-com vein, especially for US readers prepared to share the intense British preoccupation with class distinctions.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's