Back to normal this week with a book review!
Due to the sheer amount of belongings that I had to bring to France, I was unable to bring any physical books, so (because I don’t love reading on my Kindle), I was delighted to discover that the family I am living with have an impressive array of books to choose from- both in English and in French. I was even more delighted to see that Adrian Mole: The Prostratre Years was on the shelf. I had only read the original (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4) when I was much younger, but I really did love the book, and had heard good things about the many sequels, so naturally this was my first choice.
The thing that first struck me was that Townsend’s style of writing and way of presenting Adrian’s character had not changed at all from the first book. Although much older, the awkward teenager Adrian that I remembered was still entirely apparent, just in the form of a married father. I think this added to the humour of the book, as it was clear to see that, even with years of life experience, Adrian failed to fit comfortable into society. Not only was this funny, but it meant that I still felt the same endearment towards Adrian as I had the first time I met his character. I shan’t ruin the narrative (though I do recognise that it is an old book, so you may have already read it), but I love that even when the central points of Adrian’s life begin to fall apart he does not even seem to flinch. It is as if he knows that his reaction isn’t even worthwhile, and almost as if he expects no less.
I also loved the character of his daughter Gracie. I felt that her mischievous behaviour added further to the humour, thus further to the sympathy I felt for Adrian. It is as if nothing, not even his child, can really go to plan. Likewise Mrs Mole, she is the same overbearing, somewhat cringeworthy working class mother that I remember from the first book of the series. Once again, this simply adds to the general picture of hopelessness that appears to be Adrian Mole’s life. Some might say that characters are over the top, and ‘too much’, and I have to admit that in other narrative situations I might agree. However, there is something about Townsend’s Adrian Mole series that makes allowances for this.
As with the original book, I love the diary style narrative. Not only does it suit Adrian’s character very well, as if he has no one else but his diary (thus the reader) to confide in. I also find that it makes it very easy to read, and allows the reader to realise the progression of time in the narrative much more easily and much more naturally than if a narrator were to explicitly draw attention to it.
I really like that the book is very clearly set in 2007, and brings much attention to this through the conversation about contemporary events (for example Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister and the failing of Northern Rock). Instead of dating the book, as one might expect, it, once again, adds to the humour. Even though I was young in 2011, I can remember hearing people talk about such events, and seeing them on the news, which means that I can actually read the book with a knowledge and opinion only gained through hindsight.
Overall, I couldn’t recommend this book enough! It was packed with the humour and embarrassment and awkwardness that I know and love from the original, and it simply consolidates Townsend’s ability as an author, and proves how well she know this fantastic character. I would perhaps suggest that you read the original book first, in order that you gain a sense of who Adrian Mole is as a character, so that you can ‘get’ the book a little more. I am definitely now intrigued to read all of the books in between that I have missed out on!