I have no idea how and why this messy and less-than-funny installment of the Adrian Mole series came to see the light of day (a wild guess: someone somewhere probably thought that it would be a good idea to publish a random something in between two “regular” books), but I’m not going to search the web to find it out, because I don’t think there’s any conspiracy in the background – something the importance of which I might have missed. I’m pretty sure that an average Adrian Mole novel is not as mind-boggling as, say, a novel by Thomas Pynchon, and a Mole novel can usually be understood without perusing a Townsend-wiki. I mean – I assume I understand this book. And since I understand it, I cannot but wonder: what the hell is this incoherent, cheap stuff?
The novel consists of three markedly different sections that aren’t especially good or coherent on their own to begin with, but when it comes to answering the question of how they are connected, I’m really at a loss. If I’m in a benevolent mood, I can say: very accidentally. And if I’m in more of a grumpy-critical mood, I can say: not at all.
The first part of the book mainly consists of excerpts from Adrian Mole’s diary, describing different eras of the protagonist’s life. A couple of these are more or less funny, but they never make me laugh out loud, which is strange, because I’ve been known to laugh a lot while reading the first two Adrian Mole books.
Then comes the second part: it’s mainly made up of the travel notes of Sue Townsend (or her fictional alter-ego): how she spent her time in Mallorca, how she went with a bunch of other writers to Russia, or how she experienced a totally random this-or-that. To be honest, Townsend isn’t particularly funny here – or perhaps she developed a sense of humor which I don’t find funny at all. Sure, I’m not into every kind of humor in the world, but as I said, I distinctly remember that I used to find her kind of humor very funny in the first two Adrian Mole books, not very long ago, and I don’t think my sense of humor changed that much in the meantime.
And then there’s the third part which features excerpts from the childhood diary of Margaret Thatcher, written in the trademark Adrian Mole style. Of course, Margaret Thatcher’s childhood abounds in different kinds of joys and moral difficulties than the childhood of Townsend’s immortal Adrian Mole. For instance, we learn that one of little Margaret’s favorite pastime activities is reading books about chemistry; or that she goes through a major crisis if she steals a single raisin from a bag of raisins; or that she condemns her mother because she works a mere 16 hours per day; or that on Mondays she says: “finally, it’s a school-day again!” Oh, yes, and we also learn that she already hates working-class people, and that she firmly believes that everyone who’s poor has only himself to blame. You get the point – she’s portrayed as an abominable workaholic/perfectionist/moral champion, and everybody in their right mind makes sure to steer clear of her. Well, okay. I admit that some of her diary entries are mildly (very mildly) comic, but in the end I don’t like this at all. It’s too cheap, too direct, and not at all witty. Townsend did a much better job criticizing Margaret Thatcher in the first two books of this series.