Last week I offered to lend the first two Adrian Mole books (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole) to a friend’s kids. I dug them out of the pile of Books I’ve Read and Am Not Ready to Give Away (a bookshelf in my studio). But once I’d laid eyes on them, I just had to re-read them before lending them out.
I remember enjoying these books very much, and this re-read was no disappointment. Townsend manages to portray so much about Adrian beneath and around and despite his own words, as he navigates adolescence and as the adults around him stumble through their complicated lives. Adrian can be moralistic and self-righteous and conservative in ways specific to adolescence, and it’s fun to watch him evolve over time and start to realise what is actually going on around him.
Apparently there are something like five more books in this series now. Much as I really enjoy these quick and funny books, I’m not sure I’d want to keep reading more about Adrian as he gets older, especially if he remains so judgy and selfish. These are funny traits in a fictional teenager written with Townsend’s wit and eye for detail, but I can’t imagine him being a sympathetic character as an adult unless he changes a lot. If you’ve read the later books, let me know if he turns into someone more sympathetic!