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Vice Versa

F. Anstey

Book Overview: 

Set in Victorian times, the novel concerns business man Paul Bultitude and his son Dick. Dick is about to leave home for a boarding school which is ruled by the cane wielding headmaster Dr. Grimstone. Bultitude, seeing his son's fear of going to the school, foolishly says that schooldays are the best years of a boy's life, and how he wished that he was the one so doing.

At this point, thanks to a handy magic stone brought by an uncle from India which grants the possessor one wish, they are now on even terms. Dick, now holding the stone, is ordered by his father to turn him back into his own body, but Dick refuses, and decides instead to become his father, and so the fun begins. Mr. Bultitude has to begin the new academic term at his son's boarding school, while Dick gets a chance to run his father's business in the City. In the end, they are both restored to their own bodies, with a better understanding of each other. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .liarly sensitive on the subject and——" Here he broke off with a sharp yell, and began to rub his ankle. "One of these young savages has just given me a severe kick; it's that fellow over there, with the blue necktie. I have given him no provocation, and he attacks me in this brutal manner, sir; I appeal to you for protection!"

"So, Coker" (Coker wore a blue necktie), said the Doctor, "you emulate the wild ass in more qualities than those of stupidity and stubbornness, do you? You lash out with your hind legs at an inoffensive school-fellow, with all the viciousness of a kangaroo, eh? Write out all you find in Buffon's Natural History upon those two animals a dozen times, and bring it to me by to-morrow evening. If I am to stable wild asses, sir, they shall be broken in!"

[Pg 57]

Six pairs of sulky glowering eyes were fixed upon the unconscious Paul for the rest of the journey; indignant protests and dark vows of vengeance were muttered. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Such a fantastic plot that it has fathered many versions of itself - all interesting in their own right. Who hasn't wondered what it would be like to be someone else? Who wouldn't like to try out someone else's life for a bit?

It has it's laughs - and like all really great humor, it has a serious...more

"Yes, this was no dream of distempered digestion, but sober reality. . . .And now he, Paul Bultitude, the widely-respected merchant of Mincing Lane, a man of means and position, was being ignominiously packed off to school as if he were actually the schoolboy some hideous juggle had made him appe...more

Not funny, mostly just an entire novel of a man complaining about how no one respects him because he's in the body of his teen son. With a whiny and entitled narrator I'd rather watch the Lindsay Lohan/Jamie Lee Curtis Freaky Friday movie.

This book written in 1882 is the first take on the Father/Son switch of bodies plot which was later taken up in the movies Vice Versa and Big.

The plot follows along the father as he is forced to attend the school is son had been previously begging for him not to send him to. So there are many of...more

One cannot help but dislike Mr. Bultitude in the first couple chapters, but eventually sympathizes with him in his school trials and attempts to escape his situation. A wonderful story!

A light but entertaining comic novel from 1882.

Essentially a silly story of a father and son swapping bodies through the (largely unintentional) use of a magic talisman, it has spawned various adaptations over the years.

While the son (in his father's guise) runs his business into the ground, the...more

I read this book as part of the F. Anstey anthology "Humour and Fantasy" and yes it is the book that allegedly killed Anthony Trollope: according to the Trollope society website "In September he left Harting and took quarters at Garland's Hotel, Suffolk Street, Pall Mall, London. Here, on Novembe...more

One of C.S.Lewis's favorite books. He is quoted to have said that this book gave the truest and realest representation of life in an English private school for boys.
The book is very well written. While it starts from an (unbelievable) instance of magic, and there is another at the end so that thi...more

The inspiration for Freaky Friday, this book is about a Victorian man, Mr. Bultitude, and his son who accidentally change places. True to its subtitle "A Lesson to Fathers," the book is mostly concerned with how the father, having to cope with his son's life, grows and changes. One day, at the en...more

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