Friday, 26 August 2011
ADRIAN MOLE: THE WILDERNESS YEARS by Sue Townsend
It is one of the sequels to Townsend's first great success, THE SECRET DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE AGED 13 3/4. Adrian is now in his early twenties, and still just as self-obssessed and miserable as ever. His day job is in the civil service, but his real focus is his novel LO, THE FLAT HILLS OF MY HOMELAND, which is as bad as it sounds.
It's a very funny, immensely readable little novel, though I find it difficult to put my finger on quite what is so entertaining about it. I think it is partly that Adrian is so honest in his diary, revealing the embarrassing secrets and dreams that everyone has. It's also the occasional glimpses one gets of the people in his life, who in their reported dialogue and actions are so very different from Adrian's narrow view of them.
At one point he writes to his sister that a donkey he sees in Greece reminds him of their dog. This endeared him to me. I had to give up a cat when I left London, and I found that not only did other cats remind me of my cat, but so did dogs, the cuter Masaai cattle, and adolescent giraffes. My London cat was all over Nairobi.
Over the course of this diary, Adrian loses his job, realises his novel is not very good, gets dumped, and in general begins to grow up, which gives the book a sweet and satisfying narrative arc.