Written as the letters of the five members of Squire Bramble's household sent as they journey around Britain, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker is a grouchy, very funny examination of how one story varies depending on who's doing the telling.
The tale is centered around the arrival of Mr. Clinker into the otherwise uneventful household, who never speaks and does not even enter the novel until a third of the way through. In spite of this, the duels, imprisonments, failed romances and jealousies and an inconveniently overturned carriage, all recounted with Smollet's characteristically coarse and satirical verve, manage to make Mr. Clinker one of classical literature's best-loved characters. This was Tobias Smollett's last novel.
Published in 1771, the year of the author's death, it brought together all the qualities of Smollett's work - his renowned gravelly style, his knowledge of the travails of a doctor beset by hypochondriacs,(being a qualified surgeon and MD himself), his lengthy and varied travels and a recent stay at the fashionable and increasingly ridiculous spa at Bath - all combine to make a very funny read.