55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2007
Is it the last volume of the Adrian Mole saga? Of course not. I doubt it very much. There is no end to a good recipe, a ratatouille or a beef and kidney pie. But we'll see. This volume is extremely interesting. For our Adrian Mole is still Adrian Mole. He is naïve and he is sending to us a very simple-minded vision of the world that is absolutely disarming - a must with the title we know - in naivety and vanity. This vain naivety or naïve vanity is his trademark and it is marvelously refreshing. It could probably not break a man's arm, but it can break, even smash, a man's despair. And this here volume is still a perfect example, at the age of 35, nearly middle-aged, of this entertaining village philosopher from Leicester. The book is also fascinating because we are in 2002-2004 and the central problem is the war on Iraq and Blair's support, till the day when he acknowledges there were no WMDs. The political question is systematically shown through the opinions of various people. Adrian is pro-Blair and he supports his own son when he is sent to Iraq, though he is frightened by the prospect of his son's death for and with no cause, and actually the son's best friend is killed by shrapnel. Pandora is against the war and she resigns from Blair's government. And between the two we find all kinds of shades. The dramatic dimension of the problem is strong because of the son's position in the armed forces. At the same time the book criticizes all kinds pf shortcomings of Blair's policy and of capitalistic greed. Adrian and his father are confronted to the National Health Service, and Adrian is suddenly thrown into bankruptcy by greedy banks and various store- or credit-card providers as well as by his vain desire to live over his means. The book is also fascinating because of the love life or rather non-love and/versus love lives of Adrian. He finds himself trapped by a false pregnancy and ends with a real third child born in love. Finally the book is fascinating because of the numerous vignettes it provides on various characters and situations: the independent bookseller, the local would-be or wanna-be writer, the protection of Her Majesty's swans, the Koran, Chinese restaurants, baby-boomers, vegetarian or bio-friendly people, etc... There you feel a high level of irony, humor, sarcasm, and that is so English, so brilliantly English.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2004
This book is the best yet , the character of Adrian Mole makes you laugh,cry,angry,sad.Sue Townsend has definately done it agin.She weaves the rich tapestry of adrians life around him like a warm coat in winter.
From the madness of adrian's girlfriend marigold to the experinces of glen bott (now in the army).The story about Nigels eyesight is prophetic and funny at the same time.I read this book in 3 days , i just could not put it down.I'm starting it again now.
Buy it,Steal it,Beg it..Just read it.
Thanks Sue..This book will be always cherished.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2006
Rumoured to be the last Adrian Mole book, this is also the best.
From the surreal departure of The Cappucino Years, Adrian is just about where we would expect him to be: in Leicester, working in a bookshop, and going nowhere very quickly. Having picked celebrity culture and multi-culturalism as her themes for his previous diary, Townsend chooses the credit spiral and the Gulf War as her focus for this one. Whilst her agenda pertaining to the war is thinly veiled, the manner in which she addresses it is both intelligent and profoundly moving.
Adrian himself is very much recognisable as the character from the earlier diaries - though his trademark delusional aspirations have begun to be wearied by age. He maintains a child like faith in authority, and an inability to adequately deal with the burden of responsibility of adult life, but is somehow changing.
There is a craft at work in The Weapons of Mass Destruction, and a lightness of touch, that is a notch above the previous diaries. Townsend has always shown herself to be a very good writer of popular fiction, in this tome she proves herself to be a great one. The characters are at once beautifully rendered and endlessly complex, and there is a linguistic dexterity at work which is amongst the best of her peers. Whereas there has been a sense in the past that Townsend has mocked her anti-hero, there is a clear feeling here that she's learned to love him - and give him more respect. To this end, she also affords him a more creditable relationship with his life-long peers - notably Pandora and Nigel - suggesting plausible relationships, based on shared history and a true, hidden fondness. Where Pandora had drifted overtly towards parody in Cappucino Years, she has regained some of her warmth and humanity, sharing some genuinely affecting scenes with Adrian.
There is the usual humour in this novel, but there are also moments of genuine pathos - with little corners of genuinely beautiful writing. Adrian's faith in Tony Blair and the WMD of the title is as heartbreaking as it is frustrating, and his eventual capitulation to the knowledge to which hindsight has made us all privelege, is brilliantly done.
If this is to be the final diary, it is a fitting epilogue. Within its pages, finally at the age of 35 (with two children) Adrian loses his innocence. The manner in which he comes to do so is the real coup de gras, and is what lifts this novel above its aspirations to make it something really rather special.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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.