This novel has the length of a Victorian work but both its vocabulary and subject matter are not at all puritan. Themes discussed include for instance intra-uterine baptism and accidental circumcision!
The running joke is that the reporter constantly digresses from his digressions and seems incapable of ever getting to his point. In this pseudo-autobiographical work, the narrator's birth finally happens only a good fourth into the book! Presumably, the intent is to be comical but the result is rather silly and even tedious to a modern reader.
Published in nine volumes in the 1760's, the novel definitely appears unstructured. It ends without any true conclusion and one feels that many more volumes could have been written and published. Anyhow, there is no plot as such and, despite the title, little is actually learned about Tristram Shandy and his life. The main characters are really his father, a superficial man with very set preconceived notions on a whole series of subjects, and his rather pathetic and anti-social uncle, marked by his war injury _ in the groin!
The author succeeds in being very original in a variety of ways: by very frequently addressing the reader, by limiting some chapters to a single sentence and even including blank ones, by making very long quotations in French and Latin or long pointless lists such as the number of streets in each of the various Paris neighbourhoods, etc.
Overall, this book can only be recommended to those interested in the history of the British novel with a marked curiosity for atypical 18th century works.