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The Woman who Went to Bed for a Year Paperback – 13 Sep 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (13 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141399643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141399645
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (757 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Leicester in 1946, Sue left school at 15 years of age. She married at 18, and by 23 was a single parent with three children. She worked in a variety of jobs including factory worker, shop assistant, and as a youth worker on adventure playgrounds. She wrote in secret for twenty years, eventually joining a writers' group at the Phoenix Theatre, Leicester in her thirties.

At the age of 35, she won the Thames Television Playwright Award for her first play, Womberang, and started her writing career. Other plays followed including The Great Celestial Cow (1984), Ten Tiny Fingers, Nine Tiny Toes (1990), and most recently You, me and Wii (2010), but she became most famous for her series of books about Adrian Mole, which she originally began writing in 1975.

The first of these, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ was published in 1982 and was followed by The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1984). These two books made her the best-selling novelist of the 1980s. They have been followed by several more in the same series including Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years (1993); Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (2004); and most recently Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years (2009). The books have been adapted for radio, television and theatre; the first being broadcast on radio in 1982. Townsend also wrote the screenplays for television adaptations of the first and second books and Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years (published 1998, BBC television adaptation 2001).

Several of her books have been adapted for the stage, including The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾: The Play (1985) and The Queen and I: a Play with Songs (1994), which was performed by the Out of Joint Touring Company at the Vaudeville Theatre and toured Australia. The latter is based on another of her books, in which the Royal Family become deposed and take up residence on a council estate in Leicester. Other books include Rebuilding Coventry (1988), Ghost Children (1997) and Queen Camilla (2006).

She was an honorary MA of Leicester University, and in 2008 she was made a Distinguished Honorary Fellow, the highest award the University can give. She was an Honorary Doctor of Letters at Loughborough University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her other awards include the James Joyce Award of the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin, and the Frink Award at the Women of the Year Awards. In 2009 she was given the Honorary Freedom of Leicester.

Her most recent novel, The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, was published in 2012 by Michael Joseph and was a giant success, selling over half a million copies to date in the UK alone.

Product Description


'This is one of the most marvellous books I have ever read; the characters are brilliantly drawn, the dialogue sparkling and the quality of the prose is truly breathtaking - oh, and by the way it is also hilarious - I had to stop recording on several occasions because I was laughing so much I simply couldn't continue.' --Caroline Quentin (Narrator)

'... it's very funny, with Caroline Quentin as the bonus.' --The Guardian

'Caroline Quentin's reading... develops into a subtle and touching performance.' --The Independent --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Sue Townsend is one of Britain's favourite comic authors. Her hugely successful novels include eight Adrian Mole books, The Public Confessions of a Middle-Aged Woman (Aged 55¾), Number Ten, Ghost Children, The Queen and I, Queen Camilla and The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, all of which are highly-acclaimed bestsellers. Sue passed away in 2014 and is survived by her husband, four children, ten grandchildren and millions of avid readers.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Steve Benner TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sue Townsend's view of life in Britain seems to have changed a great deal since the early 1980s and the publication of "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4". Throughout that book and indeed the eight volumes that the Adrian Mole series eventually became, and also in others of her books, such as "The Queen and I" and "Queen Camilla", the overriding message (in a highly satirical sort of way) was that while the world is often a cruel place and fate fickle, most ordinary people are inherently decent and the human spirit essentially indomitable, almost always able to make the best of a bad lot. To read these books is to be both entertained and uplifted, even while conscious of the fact that life can all too frequently skim across the surface of a darker, more frightening, world.

The author's latest tale, "The Woman who Went to Bed for a Year", is an altogether more depressing affair. It starts out in very similar vein to her other books, with an essentially ordinary and entirely dysfunctional middle class family of four in suburban Leicester. While husband, Brian, drives their twin teenage children to Leeds to begin a life at University, tired housewife, Eva, takes herself off to bed; where she subsequently decides to stay indefinitely, for no better reason than the sheer fact that she can.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on 31 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I like Sue Townsend's work very much but I'm afraid I didn't get on all that well with this book. It is well written, easy to read and amusing in places but I thought that it lacked some of Townsend's real wit and sharp insight.

The story is of Eva, a woman whose twin children go away to university and whose tedious, sexist, emotionally illiterate (and many other objectionable things) husband turns out to have been having an affair for years. Eva goes to bed for a year is sure. Even she doesn't know. It's a sort of withdrawal from all the things she hates about the world and a `finding herself' experience. Townsend then uses this to satirise and rant against what she dislikes about the world. There's a monstrous, self-obsessed, manipulative teenager, sexism and racism, some well-directed barbs like "[my children] live in a very small world called the internet where cynicism is the norm and cruelty has taken the place of humour," and so on. There's even a sort of Life Of Brian episode.

It's all quite amusing and the style carries you along nicely, but it didn't seem to me to have much cohesion nor much of the bite, insight and shrewd observation which have made many of Sue Townsend's books so good. It just rather peters out and although I think Eva's eventual realisation is of a profound and important truth I couldn't really see how the realisation stemmed from what had happened. (I also think that Henry James's list of the three important things in human life says it more powerfully and in a single sentence than this book does.)

This book is an easy, occasionally amusing read. I didn't actively dislike it but I'm afraid I didn't think it added up to much.
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105 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Gaily H on 13 Mar. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sue Townsend had a great idea. Invent a woman who spends a year in bed! Eva Beaver is not ill, physically or mentally. She decides to go to bed to think.

With your main character in bed, you need an array of supporting characters to give some interest. I can imagine Townsend plotting these characters thinking they would be dynamite. Dr Brian Beaver (great name!), a dull astronomer who's constantly confused for an astrologer. His mistress, Titania (great name!). The weary and working class mother and mother-in-law, Ruby and Yvonne. The Beavers' autistic twin children. Poppy, the nymphomaniac who pretends to befriend the twins at university and wreaks havoc in the lives of hapless men. And finally Alexander, the dread locked would-be artist who falls in love with Eva. He and a facially scarred veteran from the war, Stuart, are the two token "nice" men, counter balancing Brian Junior and Senior.

The problem is that after a promising start, full of current social references and pithy pathos, Townsend runs into the problem of what to do with a bedridden woman.

There are a couple of references to Cold Comfort Farm and I believe Townsend thought she was creating something in this genre. But Eva Beaver is no Flora Poste. She languishes in bed, demanding food, and becomes an unlikely seer and guide with queues of distressed people wanting to see her.

So many of the characters are deeply unpleasant. Nothing new there: literature is full of characters like this. But there's nothing compelling about Beaver and his son. Even learning that Poppy had had a tragic past didn't make me feel sympathy for her. I just turned the pages when she appeared.
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