cover image Adrian Mole, the Lost Years

Adrian Mole, the Lost Years

Sue Townsend. Soho Press, $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56947-014-5

Townsend's hapless nerd (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole) returns to complete his lengthy and awkward passage from zit-ridden adolescence to angst-ridden manhood. Fans of previous installments will recognize Adrian's familiar provincial funk: still afflicted with literary ambitions as infinite as his accomplishments are infinitesimal, still heartstruck by the frightful Pandora Braithwaite, still laboriously churning out his masterpiece, the vowel-free novel, Lo! The Flat Hills of My Homeland. In fact, even admirers (and newcomers almost certainly) may find the recipe a little too unvarying this time out-particularly since, for an adult, Adrian's obsessions and affectations verge on the desperate or even the pathological. Luckily, Townsend (author also of the deft satire, The Queen and I) eventually seems to realize this too, and in the latter portions of the book adds a few new elements-a real girlfriend or two, sojourns in London, Moscow and Greece, a few unexpected career moves-to her hero's life. It's these scenes that really pay off, for even a comic creation as inspired as Adrian needs the odd change of scene. They also help pave the way for a surprising closing apotheosis that suggests Adrian may yet have some mileage in him as he approaches middle age. Major ad/promo. (Sept.)