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The latest episode in the Adrian Mole story has arrived, and it is amazing how Sue Townsend manages to keep the story fresh and hilariously funny. This is not a book to read on a train or other public venue and I for one found myself laughing aloud and giggling with amusement as the twists and turns of this diary unfold. Mole's potential for disaster and embarrassment continue unabated and the whole sage of his engagement to the awful Marigold plays out throughout the book.
Alongside Adrian's story we also catch up with his children and his parents, and of course the lovely Pandora, now a junior government Minister. These books are nothing if not topical and reading it is also a political history of the last two years, as Tony Blair stumbles deeper into the morass of Iraq, stretching the loyalty even of Adrian and ultimately Pandora. Other contemporary themes occuring in the book include the property improvement fad, credit card debt, the impact of ethnic cultures on the face of Britain and the animal rights movement.
There are some wonderful new characters in the book too - Adrian's employer, Marigold's sister, and of course the awful potential-father in-law Mr Flowers. While Sue Townsend of course encourages to laugh at Adrian's escapades, she also manages to make us sympathise with him and to identify with some of the problems he experiences. A wonderfully warm and human book, very easy to read, and well worth catching up with.
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on 8 October 2004
The new Adrian Mole book is - perhaps surprisingly - quite excellent. Having turned 34, the teenage insecurities he is so well-known for are now far behind...or?
I think Sue Townshend has managed to keep the storyline going very well through the changing times (The series now comprises Adrian's life through 20 years, meticulously recorded day by day), and this book introduces a whole new cast of side characters, as well as some familiar old faces. This book is much better than the recent ones - it's funny, touching, sad and toe-curling at the same time.
Definitely recommended - though you'll undoubtedly enjoy it more if you have read at least some of the previous books.
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VINE VOICEon 7 October 2010
Adrian Mole was the Harry Potter of the Eighties...a publishing phenomenen, written for children but read by everyone, entering the national consciousness, engendering a successful sequel and quickly translating to the screen.

Fast forward to 2004 and we have this, "Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction"in which Sue Townsend (like J K Rowling almost undoubtedly will) continues the story of her schoolboy hero into adulthood.

The diary format, a very accessible and flexible first-person style of narrative, is retained, of course, and missives between characters also drive the narrative on; Adrian has remained an enthusiastic letter writer (E Mails are sent now and again but really Townsend's characters seem to inhabit an earlier age, as most of the literature and music referenced shows.)

Mole himself is a great comic creation, similar to Mr Pooter in many ways. While he is as naive and indecisive as ever, he has matured into a witty adult (e.g. p.223 , while viewing a particularly unpleasant modern art exhibition: "I know a lot about art, but I don't know what I like.") Other characters are just as strong, the mad Flowers clan manage to get our hero into many comic scrapes, his boss Mr Carlton-Hayes is that most unusual figure in a modern novel, a thoroughly decent man.

As the novel progresses, the comedy moments of killer swans and ridiculous home furnishings are eclipsed by a serious and genuinely moving examination of the Blair/Bush War in Iraq. Satiric comedy is a valid and effective way of attacking high minded politics and has been since the ancient Athenian Greeks invented modern literature. Having our foolish, well meaning Pooterish hero as a strong supporter of Tony Blair then seeing him suffer personal loss because of the dubious War is a surprisingly strong avenue of criticism.

Running through the book is a support of literature itself, as a humanising and civilising force. Having Mole's reading group join together in prayer after reading the Koran might strike some as being a step too far in an Anti-War stance, but as written it seems a call to allow books to act to unite people and to help individuals to think for themselves.
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on 17 September 2010
Adrian Mole is a serial loser in the game of life. His diaries are a catalogue of his sexual frustrations, feelings of infinite loneliness and despair that his life will remain unfulfilled. His hopes for a career at the BBC, or his plans to become a great intellectual will never be realised and his passion for Pandora will never come to fruition. We, the readers know this, but Adrian sadly does not. Nevertheless, it has always been tremendously enjoyable reading his diaries and witnessing how he squirms his way through life.

The WOMD plots a similar course as previous Mole diaries. It provides a very engaging romp through the typically turbulent world of Mole but it also serves up a very skillful satire of the excesses and pitfalls of modern life in Britain during the Blair `boom and (unfortunately) bust' years. There is Mole's worsening financial situation as he falls for the lure of easy credit. His quest to regain his holiday deposit by writing letters to government ministers to provide him with proof of WOMD. The worries about his `grand-design' obsessed parents and his absent children living abroad (one fighting in Afghanistan). Finally, the main thread is devoted to his failing love life with a new girlfriend called Marigold (who is a walking fashion-disaster), her feisty sister Daisy and his lifelong romantic obsession, Pandora.

We are also treated to some excellent background characters that punctuate the story. The booming Mr. Flowers (Marigold's father) who both frightens and amuses in equal measure. Adrian's old-fashioned bookshop owner, Mr. Carlton Hayes, who lends an air of reason to Adrian's unreasonable expectations. At his new home Adrian has to put up with a noise-intolerant neighbour and an indignant swan called Gielgud. At his parents new 'pig-sty' house there is a monosyllabic builder called Animal who may or may not be having a fling with his mother. All these characters are brilliant creations that are superbly drawn by the author.

There some hilarious set-pieces in the book; meal-times at his girlfriends' house sampling their disastrous organic cooking creations is a hoot. The meetings of the Book club populated by non-book-reading Jeffrey Archer fans. The various evenings he spends at his friends' restaurant gazing at the fish tanks and wondering if he can escape from his ghastly girlfriend by diving into the tank. Very reminiscent of Billy Liar.

There are letters to various celebrities of the age. The eponymous title is based on a letter that Mole writes to Tony Blair. There is fashion advice for Clair Short, grammatical advice for David Beckham and tennis tips for Tim Henman. There are also a series of begging letters to various authors asking them to attend his book club party as the star guest. I particularly like the letter he writes to Ruth Rendell explaining that he has also written to Cherie Blair as well and that if Cherie accepts his invite then he will - reluctantly - have to turn Ruth down! She is, after all, the highest lady in the land!

There are also letters between Adrian and his son Glenn fighting in Afghanistan. They are full of humour, but also great pathos as Adrian writes about his worries for Glenn. He always used to ensure that Glenn wore a thick vest in the winter and now he is worrying about ensuring he wears the correct body armour in the desert. It's very touching and leaves you feeling vary sad that these thoughts are current dilemmas for many parents.

The book leaves us with a cliff-hanger where we are not sure if Daisy Flowers will really become Adrian's lifelong love. I've ordered the next book. Can't wait to see what develops.
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on 12 September 2005
Where do I start? I have read all of the Adrian Mole books and enjoyed them thouroughly. This book exceeds them in craft by a long way. Brilliant is not too strong a word for it. I was so disappointed when the book ended even though the story ended in a logical way. It was an utter joy from start to finish. Mole, though now in his late thirties, is just as gullible as ever. It struck me that Sue Townsend was able to poke fun at her own blindness by making Mole's best friend Nigel, blind. The diary format of novel is so easy to read and a story that is easy to read is the best kind. My own novel is written in this format for that very reason. Buy 'Mass Destruction' and you will want to read all of Sue's books.
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on 20 May 2006
I read this book while on holiday and I couldn't put it down. One of the funniest books I have read in a long while. A truly enjoyable read and very well written. It was funny, moving and poignant.

If you want a book that will make the train/tube/bus journey that little bit more bearable when travelling to and from work, this is the book to read.
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on 6 November 2004
I wouldn't say "Adrian Mole and the WMD" is the best in the series yet, because they are all fantastically written novels; I'm sure future sequels will not disappoint.
In WMD, Adrian is face-to-face with the stressful issues of the modern day, be they credit card debt, terrorism or political correctness. His children are in far-flung countries and his parents have sold their house and moved to rebuild their lives, while he himself battles with a flock of beastly swans and a talking fridge. It's a beautifully-written novel, leaving you laughing out loud and saying to yourself "let me stay up an extra half-hour and find out how he gets out of this one".
It strikes me that one of the many secrets behind the success of the Mole series is that he has become increasingly detached from the character of Pandora. Crucially, she's not gone completely; there are several instances of continuity connections with the past. Is it any wonder how it easy it is for us to visualise Adrian Mole in real life?
Hats off to Sue Townsend - I was gripped, reading it in two days, nearly without putting it down. Buy it now.
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on 14 October 2004
Sue Townsend's chronicles of the life of one A.A. Mole just keep getting better and better. After all that has happened to him over the years, one can't help but hope that maybe things will finally right themselves and that Adrian will live happily, if not ever after then at the very least for the foreseeable future.
Now working in an antiquarian and second hand bookstore (where he seems to have finally found his niche); running up huge debts due to the evils of store cards; acquiring a fiancee against his will and worrying about his son in the army, one can't help but wonder if he will ever get out of this one. Added to this is the saga of retrieving a deposit for a holiday cancelled due to fears about being bombed by an Iraqi weapon of mass destruction.
Throw in a bunch of swans, a pigsty conversion project; unflagging support for Tony Blair; the usual cast of old friends; and a light at the end of the tunnel, and you have another excellent book from Sue Townsend, certainly one you will want to read from cover to cover in one sitting.
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on 11 August 2010
Buy this book. The best and most hilarious installment in Townsend's saga. She surely has an ability to tune directly into your laughter ducts ( I don't know if "duct" is an appropriate word, but it should be 0_o) . The character "Marigold Flowers" , his newest love interest , is a genius comic creation to join the rest of the title charcters and the unforgettable protagonist. The novel is subtely moving towards the end which only adds to the deliciousness of it all and leaves you full up with belly laughter and tears. I wish I had Sue Townsend's mind.
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on 11 October 2005
This latest instalment in the Mole series is probably the most absorbing, touching and bittersweet of them all. There are a number of various themes running through the book including debt, trust in politicians, dealing with incompetent and bullying authorities, and aging parents. However, the main purpose of this book seems to be a vehicle for anti-Iraq war sentiments, which is where my only (and very mild) criticism arises. The arguments, made subtly and not so subtly, are obviously made with the benefit of hindsight. Adrian is made to look something of a fool for supporting the war, but he was certainly not in the (more vocal) minority at that time (2002/3).
As ever, there are some hilarious moments that make you laugh out loud, but a few more moments of despair and sadness. The unrealistic adventures of Pandora and Barry Kent thankfully take a back seat in this diary, but there are some new and strange characters for Adrian to deal with. And at 450+ pages, there is plenty to get your teeth into.
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