Thoughts on the first two ‘Adrian Mole’ books by Sue Townsend

Adrian Mole 1 and 2

After finishing the mental assault that is ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, I thought that I’d better choose something decidedly lighter in tone for my next reading project. I only own the first two ‘Adrian Mole’ books, and thought that I may as well approach them both together due to them being fairly short and following directly on from one another. Also, I’ve got a ridiculous amount of posts to do on books I’ve read recently, so this amalgamation speeds the process up somewhat.

There isn’t really a vast amount to say regarding these books, as they are fairly unassuming and not overly spectacular, to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, they are very funny in places due to the ironic tone that Townsend takes and in the innocence of much of what Mole writes, but they just don’t stand out as great works of fiction to be honest. I did enjoy them though. The use of a diary structure allows for revelations to appear gradually and add much of the humour to the books, with the reader travelling with Mole through the events of his life. One aspect of the books that I particularly liked was the fact that they were written and set in the early 1980’s, and as such include many political and cultural references from the time that are interesting glimpses into the recent past. I did not pick up on some of the references, but understood the vast majority, and particularly liked Mole’s view of Margaret Thatcher:

Friday February 12th

…Sometimes I think Mrs Thatcher is a nice kind sort of woman. Then the next day I see her on television and she frightens me rigid. She has got eyes like a psychotic killer, but a voice like a gentle person. It is a bit confusing.

from The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾

The main thing that bothered me with both of these books was the tone that Townsend uses, with Mole coming across as world-weary and somewhat precocious in his views and opinions of himself, and I fear that in the later volumes this tone may get incredibly irritating if attached to an adult character. As a child and a teenager, it is somewhat believable (some passages remind me very much of my own early-teenage diaries), but gets grating after a while.

Saying that, I will definitely re-read these, in part because they are light reading and quite quick to get through, but also because I want to see if my attitude towards them changes upon second read. I just don’t think that I will read any more after these two. Let me know if you disagree!

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