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The Woman who Went to Bed for a Year [Hardcover]

Sue Townsend
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (629 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
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Book Description

1 Mar 2012

The day her gifted twins leave home for university, Eva climbs into bed and stays there. For seventeen years she's wanted to yell at the world, 'Stop! I want to get off'. Finally, this is her chance. Perhaps she will be able to think.

Her husband Dr Brian Beaver, an astronomer who divides his time between gazing at the expanding universe, an unsatisfactory eight-year-old affair with his colleague Titania and mooching in his shed, is not happy. Who will cook dinner? Eva, he complains, is either having a breakdown or taking attention-seeking to new heights.

But word of Eva's refusal to get out of bed quickly spreads.

Alexander the dreadlocked white-van man arrives to help Eva dispose of all her clothes and possessions and bring her tea and toast. Legions of fans are writing to her or gathering in the street to catch a glimpse of this 'angel'. Her mother Ruby is unsympathetic: 'She'd soon get out of bed if her arse was on fire.'

And, though the world keeps intruding, it is from the confines of her bed that Eva at last begins to understand freedom.

The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year is a funny and touching novel about what happens when someone stops being the person everyone wants them to be. Sue Townsend, Britain's funniest writer for over three decades, has written a brilliant novel that eviscerates modern family life.

Sue Townsend is Britain's favourite comic author. 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 and Queen Camilla, all of which are highly acclaimed bestsellers. She has also written numerous well-received plays. She lives in Leicester, where she was born and grew up.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Joseph (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071815715X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718157159
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 13.8 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (629 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 168,122 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


Proof, once more, that Townsend is one of the funniest writers around (The Times)

Townsend's wit is razor-sharp (Daily Mirror)

About the Author

Sue Townsend is Britain's favourite comic author. 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 and Queen Camilla, all of which are highly acclaimed bestsellers. She has also written numerous well-received plays. She lives in Leicester, where she was born and grew up.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Sue Townsend's best 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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103 of 111 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sparkles, fizzes and then splutters out 13 Mar 2012
By Gaily H
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Comedy with a nasty streak 23 Sep 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking book
I loved the fact nothing went the way I thought it would. I could connect to so much of the story and I suspect that most readers could also relate somewhere in the book. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Janet-by-the sea.
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps my favourite...
I am shocked that this wonderful and deeply thoughtful book, "The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year" is averagely rated three stars only. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Lola
4.0 out of 5 stars A good easy read
I was not sure about this book at first but being someone who has in the past enjoyed Sue Townsend's writing I decided to take a chance, it has a rawness to it which Sue Townsend... Read more
Published 15 days ago by J. Mear
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books
This is an unusual and interesting book - full of emotion. It is witty i.e. very funny in parts and it is very sad at the end. Read more
Published 18 days ago by MRS EVELYN FOSTER
4.0 out of 5 stars GOOD READ
Very interesting and entertaining book, I did start to feel, half way through, that the main character was becoming a bit selfish, but the final chapters voided this and I would... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Ms. Linda Stubbs
2.0 out of 5 stars This book not my cup of tea.
i was looking forward to this book had been recommended ,but was disappointed did not find it funny at all.
Published 20 days ago by Rhian Griffiths
2.0 out of 5 stars First Few Pages Were Interestiing
The first few pages caught my interest in the book shop so I purchased the Kindle Edition to take on holiday, (Big Mistake) the rest of the book was in my opinion drivel. Read more
Published 22 days ago by BJL
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing.
Can there be a woman, especially one who is a wife and a mother, who has not at some point felt so exhausted and exasperated that the idea of going to bed for a year seems strongly... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Sheena
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I am a middle aged lady with the same issues bothering me as the main character in this book. At first it was very amusing as it is quite far fetched, but then it gets a bit dark... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Anita G McDonnell
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful
This book is dreadful. By far the worst book I have ever had the misfortune to read. I have only given it one star because I was not able to give it none!!
Published 1 month ago by Maxine Tucker
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