Rather like the character himself, the past few Adrian Mole offerings from Townsend have never quite lived up to expectations. But The Prostrate Years is the instalment we’ve all been waiting for. Set during the first two years of Gordon Brown’s premiership, dipping into this diary is like rediscovering an old school friend on Facebook.
These days, Adrian works in a book shop, is married to his long-suffering second wife Daisy, lives in a semi-detached home converted from a piggery – and his parents live next door. A question mark still hangs over his sister Rosie’s parentage, he is still profoundly in love with Pandora – now a high-flying politician – and his love life is still more disappointing than his parents’ (even though his father, George, is in a wheelchair). Adrian’s mother Pauline is also trying her hand at writing a ‘fictional biographical’ novel about her miserable, working class childhood, and has entitled it A Girl Called S***.
The key to this book’s success lies in the fact that Adrian has returned to the family fold. As a man alone in The Cappuccino Years, he was a dull twit with delusions of grandeur. Back with his family, he is still a dull twit, but he has a hilarious supporting cast to fall back on. Townsend’s deadpan humour and wry social comment is back – and it’s sharper and wittier than ever.