I was slightly worried to find that there is now a 40th anniversary of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. When it first came out in 1982, I was more or less the same age as Adrian and if that was 40 years ago… Anyway, I was really interested to re-read the book to find out if I enjoyed reading about Adrian just as much as I did back then.
About the book
Friday January 2nd
I felt rotten today. It’s my mother’s fault for singing ‘My Way’ at two o’clock in the morning at the top of the stairs. Just my luck to have a mother like her. There is a chance my parents could be alcoholics. Next year I could be in a children’s home.
Meet Adrian Mole, a hapless teenager providing an unabashed, pimples-and-all glimpse into adolescent life as he writes candidly about the dog, his parents’ marital troubles and life as a tortured poet and ‘misunderstood intellectual.’
Forty years after it first appeared, Sue Townsend’s comic masterpiece continues to be rediscovered by new generations of readers.
This book is a hoot whether you are reliving your own teenage years in the 80s or are discovering Adrian and his teenage angst for the first time.
There’s a great intro to this new 40th anniversary hardback edition from Caitlin Moran explaining just how relatable Adrian was. There’s nothing very major happens in Adrian’s life and that’s what made it so good. Here was a normal teenager worrying over things which every teenager does – is his body normal, will anyone ever find him attractive, when will Pandora notice he is profoundly in love with her, what’s going on with his spots – while also commenting on the everyday things which happen in his life. Here is a teenager who is starting to be aware of the way the world around him affects him and his family and is worried about things like will his parents get divorced, how will the bills be paid, what are politicians up to or is there going to be a nuclear war. And being a teenager, of course he is quite confident he knows everything and understands everything whereas we can read it with hindsight knowing he has often got things wrong.
The book is set over 1981 and 1982 and of course it was very contemporary at the time. There are references to many events I can easily recall such as the Falklands War, the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana and the general political situation. I suppose it’s almost a historical novel now isn’t it? It will be interesting to see how new readers respond.
I enjoyed catching up with Adrian Mole and found the book a real slice of nostalgia. It was interesting reading it now with adult eyes as opposed to the teenaged me relating to much of it when I first read it. But that’s the thing about books isn’t it? Each reader has a different response and some wise person said you never read the same book twice.
My thanks to the publishers Penguin Michael Joseph for sending me a copy of the book. The special hardback anniversary edition of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 is available now from all good bookshops.
About the Author
Sue Townsend was born in Leicester in 1946. Despite not learning to read until the age of eight, leaving school at fifteen with no qualifications and having three children by the time she was in her mid-twenties, she always found time to read widely. She also wrote secretly for twenty years. After joining a writers’ group at The Phoenix Theatre, Leicester, she won a Thames Television award for her first play, Womberang, and became a professional playwright and novelist. After the publication of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, Sue continued to make the nation laugh and prick its conscience. She wrote seven further volumes of Adrian’s diaries and five other popular novels – including The Queen and I, Number Ten and The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year – and numerous well received plays. Sue passed away in 2014 at the age of sixty-eight. She remains widely regarded as Britain’s favourite comic writer.