I am sure you’d be hard pushed to find someone of my age from the UK who didn’t have their formative years in some way shaped by Adrian Mole. His secret diaries were a Very Big Deal when I was growing up, so I thought why not read a non-Mole book of Townsend’s? Well, you know what they say about curiosity…
Eva Beaver (really) decides one day that she has had enough. Unhappily married to Brian, she has just packed her math genius twins Brian Jr and Brianne (really) off to university. Feeling unloved and unappreciated by everyone, she takes to her bed and discovers she can’t get up. So she stays there. Nobody in her immediate family is understanding or sympathetic as to why she has done this.
This book is an unpleasant read. There isn’t a single nice character in it. It could have been titled A Hideous Bunch of Cunts, at least then you’d know what you were getting. It helps if there’s at least some levity among all the unpleasant goings on, but thanks to sketchy and inconsistent characterisation, along with some seriously haphazard plotting, it’s nonexistent. This means not only do you not care about anyone in the book, you don’t want to spend any time with them, even on paper. Even Eva is a hateful monstrous twat.
You know in The Fly, when Jeff Goldblum cooks the steak post-teleportation of it and Geena Davis says it tastes synthetic? That steak is this book. None of it feels real. It desperately tries to be grounded in reality but there is not one single believable person or action in all of its 450 pages. I could not wait for the year to be up and for Eva to haul her ungrateful arse out of the bed. Somehow, Townsend kept me reading it to the end, though I’m sure I don’t know how. For that reason, I am giving it a second star. It takes a writer of inordinate talent to fuck something up this spectacularly, but still make it just about readable. If you haven’t read any of the Adrian Mole series, skip this book and read them instead. If you have read them, skip this book anyway and just read them again. You’ll thank me in the long run.