The Joy of Meeting a New Character – The Adrian Mole Diaries by Sue Townsend

Posted by Justine Solomons on February 4, 2013, in Recommendations

Review by Julia Newhouse.

Buy the series starting with The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4.

There is something to be said for coming to a series late. Having not spent my formative years in the UK, I had gotten to adulthood without having ever heard of Adrian Mole. But, having been given the first book recently as a gift, I was quickly hooked. Having come to know him in 2012, I have been able to read the whole cannon so far, quickly following Adrian from 13 and 3/4 to his early forties: through his final school years to middle-age. While some people have waited nearly three decades to see Adrian's path unfold, I have been able to catch up with him in just under two months. And, with news of a new book in the series expected next year, there couldn't  be a better moment to meet Adrian Albert Mole.

Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole is, despite his flaws, utterly charming. From the outset, as a somewhat uptight yet over confident teenager, he dreams of being a famous writer. And we quickly learn that Adrian isn't one to let a lack of talent stand in the way of his dreams. He has a plethora of similar flaws that make him utterly lovable: he is judgemental, and thinks too highly of himself for a start. He also has a particular gift for missing what is right in front of his nose. In the first book 'The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4', he is oblivious to the obvious affair his mother is having with the family's neighbour Mr. Lucas. Adrian' s complete shock when this is revealed is at turns both embarrassing and hilarious.

It is not only Adrian who captures your heart- his adulterous parents, first love Pandora Braithwaite, and the many other characters to flit into his life over the years are each drawn by Townsend with tender loving care. The books have also been widely appreciated for the way in which they have captured the British zeitgeist. Adrian is a teen in Thatcherite Britain, an ardent and then disaffected believer in New Labour, and a man shocked by the truths behind the Iraq war. Townsend has written a searingly good series, complete with lovable characters, storylines that you can't help but want to see develop, and that all important je ne sais quoi. Perhaps best of all, they are easy to read, totally accessible, and completely addictive. The series so far includes- 'The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4', 'The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole', 'True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole', Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years', 'Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years', 'Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction', 'The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole', and 'Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years'. I cannot wait for the next book, and with it, the next chapter in Adrian Mole's life.

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