Loathe as I am to say anything negative about Adrian Mole (being, as I am, a lifelong reader and admirer of Sue Townsend’s work) I found the “Lost Diaries” a bit of a stretch in terms of plot and tone. It wasn’t as funny as I’m used to and seemed more like a franchise grab than like anything really innovative or exciting was happening with Adrian’s character. Disappointing.
This man is not Adrian Mole. Like the trip to the recreated Anne of Green Gables house when my father asked if the house was “really” where Anne lived, fiction does not live. And what a shame that it doesn’t. There’s nothing I’d like more than to ring round Adrian’s house (well, the piggeries) and find him fastidiously drinking his afternoon tea and waxing poetic about his prostate.
But really, finding out that another Adrian Mole book had come out was happy news, and once again, Sue Townsend has delivered a remarkably witty and insightful novel featuring one of my all time favourite male protagonists. What isn’t to love about Adrian? Nothing makes a reader feel more love for a character than feeling smarter and more sophisticated than the (altogether hapless) first person (diarist!) protagonist. But if Adrian were entirely daft I might not love him as I do; instead, it is precisely Adrian’s flaws and vulnerabilities that make him so loveable. The reader at once feels superior to Adrian and identifies with him.
For a reader who values character consistency and complexity, Adrian certainly satisfies. And for a reader who values the endurance (and here I mean both in the literal sense of a character who just. keeps. going. and in the sense of a character whose sensitivity and earnestness far surpasses his particular political moment and geographic location) Adrian does not disappoint. And funny. So funny.
Note: Adrian Mole, From Minor to Major, (the collection of the first four – or five? – Adrian novels) is the first and only book I’ve ever stolen, and I did it by accident (I swear). I started to read it while in the library, and walked out still reading it (well before the days of electronic door monitors) and forgot to sign it out. Shame.