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Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years - Sue Townsend

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      14.04.2009 22:44
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      not worth the read

      Why has this book been written? Townsend's previous Mole encounter, 'The Wilderness Years' tied the series up in a pretty neat conclusion with a sufficient air of finality. This new book unnecessarily destroys what had been a quite satsifactory conclusion to a funny and popular series.
      'Cappucino' lacks the 'Private Eye' political satire of the earlier books. While previous Mole encounter chronicled and mocked the Thatcher and Major governments, the 30-year-old Mole hasn't got an awful lot of worthwhile comments to make about New Labour. The political jokes extend little further than separating 'Socialists' from 'New Labour Supporters' - hardly razor-sharp stuff.

      In other areas Townsend's wit sparkles as of old. She has a knack for recreating the day-to-day mundanities of life in a way which ridicules the pretensions we recognise in ourself. Mole himself, self-centred and overly proud, is the perfect vehicle through which to achieve this, and the diary form helps develop his character most clearly.
      Yet the book does disappoint somewhat in terms of plot. After 'Wilderness' there seemed nowhere else to go - Mole had found his love and the skeletons of the past (ex-girlfriend Pandora, parents etc...) were vanquished. Townsend rips this apart and starts again, handing Mole a divorce and a young child. The time jump between this book and the previous one makes the baffling plot twist even harder to fathom. Pandora's reappearance as one of 'Blair's babes' is one of the more ridiculous twists.

      'Adrian Mole: The Cappucino Years' has a very much open-ended conclusion, no doubt paving the way for yet another Mole book. It's difficult not to be cynical and suspicious about Townsend's reasons for writing 'Cappucino' when you consider that the previous book was an acceptable conclusion to the series and the plot twists required to create 'Cappucino' beggar belief. It's too forced and not funny enough.

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        27.05.2008 16:03
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        A good read

        Although I read the two original Adrian Mole books many times growing up I'd never actually got around to reading any of the 'adult' Mole books until very recently. I started with The Wilderness Years and then moved onto the book I'm reviewing here, Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years, the fifth book in the series. This one starts in 19997 and Adrian Mole's age is listed as 30 on the front cover.

        The book begins with Mole working (and living) as an offal chef at Hoi Polloi, a London restaurant run by a foul mouthed drunken lout called Peter Savage. Adrian can't cook to save his life but it doesn't matter because the celebrity ponces who frequent this part of London and Hoi Polloi seem to have embraced the restaurant as some sort of post-modern joke on food and love to just be seen there. Savage eventually decides an oxygen bar would bring in even more yoghurt knitting New Labour types and turfs Mole out of his job and room. The bright spot however is that Adrian is asked to become a celebrity chef and record a pilot for a cable channel called 'Offaly Good'. It doesn't go quite according to plan though and soon Adrian has returned to his parents house in Leicester to work on a book version of 'Offaly Good' and his serial killer comedy 'The White Van'.

        Back home life is complicated by his parents having switched partners with Pandora's. Adrian's Mum living with Pandora's Dad Ivan in the Mole house and his Dad living with Pandora's mother Tania in the Braithwaites' house. Adrian is also a single parent with a son via Jo Jo, the woman he met at the end of The Wilderness Years. He's addicted to Opal Fruits, has a sarky younger sister, and last , but by no means least, is still infatuated with Pandora Braithwaite, who now happens to be Dr Pandora Braithwaite, New Labour MP for Ashby de la Zouch and the most striking of the new 'Blair babes'...

        I found the contrast between this book and the last one quite interesting. The last book featuring the adult Mole still clung to the structure and shortish diary entries of the original books from the eighties. This one is much more like reading a modern comic novel with entries that sometimes run to five pages. Perhaps the joke is that Mole, an eternally frustrated writer, is putting more and more effort into his diary and becoming a better writer. Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years is an entertaining read and you'll find yourself flipping through to see what happens to Adrian in the end, but it does have some flaws.

        I tend to agree with the theory that there was something realistic and down to earth in the original books where Adrian was a child. His problems at school, his wonderfully vivid and bickering working-class parents, his precocious and sometimes pedantic personality. Somehow it all (or most of it) rang true. The problem with the adult Mole books is that it doesn't ring true at all anymore. Most of the characters have become caricatures in order to set up jokes and more mayhem in Adrian's life. The tv types who produce Adrian's show and his boss at the restuarant are not believable characters but just broad comedy ciphers. I suppose you have to accept that Townsend is using Mole to comment on the political and social issues of the era.

        New Labour take a (deserved!) kicking in the book as a bunch of trendy glory hunters who don't really believe in anything but just want to be in power. David Cameron anyone? Did I still believe in the Pandora character? Not hugely (it's a bit jarring to see entries commenting on her appearing on 'Newsnight' etc) but she does have a touching moment near the end after being cruel to Adrian throughout. In the book Pandora seems to regard Adrian as some sort of idiot savant who she just happened to go to school with a long time ago.

        In fact a lot of people in the book have it in for Adrian, who comes across as a retentive nerd who - and this might be a key point in the book - is a working-class lad from a fishfinger childhood who wants to be a writer and have nice things but is sort of shunned by both the working-classes and the metropolitan types to wishes to join. I suppose to be fair Mole does put the boot into everyone in the book so maybe the point is he doesn't belong anywhere so isn't really accepted by any group. In another plot development that strains credibility, Barry Kent, the punk from a broken home who tormented Mole at schol is now a famous poet and author. Is the self-contained Adrian Mole representative of a classless Britain? It might be another point. I must say though, I did enjoy Adrian's general bemusement at the whole 'Rule Brittania' Blair thing.

        Two characters who remain just about blood relatives from their previous selves in the orginal books are Adrian's parents. They are always there in the background or on the page and feature in a few suprising twists. They are also quite well fleshed out in the book and the two people that will always be there for Adrian ultimately. On another note of nostalgia I enjoyed a few appearances by Nigel, Adrian's sexually confused old schoolfriend.

        The character of Adrian Mole doesn't work quite as well as an adult becuase he doesn't seem to have changed that much. He comes across as a very well organised misfit who hasn't really grown up. A sort of mildly loveable nerd. When the book concentrates on his problems as a single parent it does become more poignant with a heavier foot in reality. Is it of course though quite funny and always entertaining to be in Adrian's head.

        The tone of the book is light with one or two dramas that touch on more serious issues. On the whole though it's fairly flippant with jokes on every page. It's never quite as funny as it thinks it is but you'll smile a couple of times as you flip through each entry. It's amusing on the whole.

        I enjoyed the book and flipped through it in three or four days. It's undemanding, good fun and mildly compulsive once you get into it. You have to accept that it is a different entity from the original books featuring Mole as a child. These books are classics in my opinion and very original with a precise sense of themselves. Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years is more like reading a generic modern comic novel with lots of topical jokes that will quickly date the book.

        Overall though I thought it was a fun read and I was rooting for Adrian all the way through.

        Just like the author I suspect.

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          09.04.2002 16:18

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          Did Sue Townsend run out of fucking money again?? - Advantages: Got my money back - Disadvantages: Drivel, Toss, Shit

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          28.02.2002 22:47
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          Adrian Mole is a make believe character created by Sue Townsend, who also wrote the hilarious The Queen and I. At the beginning of this book he is aged thirty and a quarter. I will outline his current situation when this book begins. Adrian works as a chef in Soho, and lives in the upstairs room of the restaurant. His family live in Leicester, or Ashby de la Zouch, as he likes to call it. He is married to Jo Jo, a Nigerian woman who still lives there, and they are on the verge of divorce. The real love of Arian's life is, and always has been, Pandora, who is now standing for Labour MP of Ashby de la Zouch. Adrian's father has no job and no propects. His mother is suspected of being involved with Pandora's father - physically. His sister, Rosie, is a victim of culture - piercings, unprotected sex etc. Adrian's son by Jo Jo, William (my name, coincidentally!) is three and is addicted to Jeremy Clarkson?! The story is packed with funny moments. Here is a very quick outline of the story: Pandora becomes Labour MP. Adrian gets offered a job as a chef on T.V., and accepts when hears the pay. Adsrian does T.V. shows, but gets upstaged by Dev Singh?! Adrian gets sacked from restaurant, as it is being turned into an oxygen bar. Moves home to live with family. Pandora's father moves in with Adrian's mother, and Adrian's father moves in with Pandora's mother. Adrian's father and Pandora's mother start affair. Rosie gets pregnant. Rosie decides to have abortion. Adrian is commissioned to write a book to go with T.V. show. Fails, and is facing lifetime debt when his mother writes it for him. Adrian descovers he is father to another son - disruptive Glenn Bott. Old man dies, who knew Adrian. Leaves Adrian his house. Adrian, William and Glenn move in together. Adrian employs special needs teacher for Glenn. Special needs teacher burns Adrian's house. As you can see, the story is quite involved
          , and some moments are very funny. If you are down and think you are unlucky, try reading this book, about the misfortunes of Adrian Mole.

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            07.09.2001 05:52
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            This book is brilliant - I bought it when it first came out and I must have read it 20 times over! It is written in the same style as all the previous books in the series, and he hasn't changed much at all over the past 16½ years! Unfortunately, the TV series was very disappointing in comparison to the book as it was boring, and in my opinion, you had to read the book to understand it and find it remotely interesting. It goes through his adventures of being an offal chef for a cable food channel, a failed father and local Labour MP Pandora's Braithwaite's #1 fan! I'd recommend this book to anybody that has read any of the other books in the series, because it's hard to follow if you don't know the characters etc., although it does have a useful character listing at the beginning with a quick biography of that character!

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              06.08.2001 04:34
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              "Adrian Mole: The Cappucino Years" is a good book but I was personally a little bit let down. It's a good humourous book but for Adrian Mole my expectations were higher. The fact Adrian has now grown up makes it more difficult for him to be so funny I think. My favourite Adrian Mole books are the first two, when he is at school. These are funnier as he is more oblivious to general knowledge and his terrible parents feature more frequently and have more influence over him. Now he has a job and a child, there is just no way he can be as entertaining as he is an adult and he is just more knowledgeable. Obviously his personality hasn't changed, he is still quite oblivious to his parents' affairs etc until they are screamingly obvious but he just isn't as funny, he doesn't get as confused over things as he has grown up. There are some funny parts in the book but I think the older Adrian gets, the more difficult it's going to be to make him as funny as what makes the reader laugh at him is his innocence. It's a funny book, Townsend writes with flair and originality it's just not as good as the earlier ones. If you're already an Adrian Mole fan, read it if you haven't already but if you're not, don't be introduced by this.

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                27.07.2001 03:02
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                I've never read an Adrian Mole book before, and so starting with what appears to be the latest (last?) of the series is a little bit weird. I am grounded though, as I vaguely remember parts of the original TV series' (I never saw the series for this - and maybe glad after the reviews for that here), and back in the 80's, this whole Sue Townsend phenomena was as big as Bridget Jones today. And though Mole was devised by a woman, it's still not hard to scarily find affinity with him. Atleast there are a few universal/certain moments I can identify to. Though I am too taciturn to write my own diary. '...The Cappuccino Years', picks up Mole in his early thirties (in 97), working as a lowly chef at the disgraced Hoi Polloi restaurant in Soho, and also a divorced father looking after his half-Nigerian 3yr old son William. Despite the advanced age of Mole and the new surroundings, some things never change. He's still in love with Pandora Braithwaite - now MP (Labour) - and he's still a big thinker, confessing all to his diary about dysfunctional parents, relationships, situations and events. And there's many exciting readable events along the way to devour in this big printed 400 page book. Bridget Jones makes a cameo as a real character. Conservatism is dead, as is his father's penis, and his and Pandora's parents marriages, which all have a string that contributes to one another. Meanwhile though, Mole still has aspirations to be a writer (a failing one) and gets caught up in embarrasing TV offal...cooking offal. Complete with oddball manager and a co-star who seems to be getting too much attention. The book, though not in chapters but diary entries is divided into 3 segments, which are places where each of the events take place where Mole is residing; from losing his job at the failing Hoi Polloi, and then moving back in with his mother, before inheriting a house by a temporary acquaintance.
                And all in the meanwhile, Adrian discovers via a blood test that he has indeed fathered a son by an old flame, which although poses financial problems, he finds an affinity with and the two of them, plus William help eachother out in these trying but comical times - for all of them. Adrian's younger sister (an undiagnosed sufferer of Tourettes?) Rosie also transforms from a mildly crude teen dating a questionable boy, to one who slowly gets a grip on reality thanks to her brother. The New Dog (a replacement to the old dead one) is simply a mediocre and frequently mocked dog, as it can't compete with the old one. And amongst Mole's many tragic comedian friends, there's the odd private tutor to Mole's new-found son Glenn, who is more mysterious than she claims to be. And there's a variety of other major or minor locals and acquaintances who all play some part in this multi-tragic-but-eventful-life-storied diary that basically revolves around people, situations, events and relationships. There's no doubt that Sue Townsend remains one of Britain's best diarists and Mole is a character well established since the 80's and modern times, and reading and enjoying this particularly book, takes no effort at all. It's also great as it looks at aspects of modern living that are a pain and just takes the piss; and we need that humour to survive those times. The gripe though, of which I have one is that adult life is boring too (I'm one of many who claim that), and so Mole's newfound adulthood comic seriousness loses it's charm somewhat, though I can't compare to other reads except what I remember from the old TV series. - As though it's a good book, reading a book about a middle-ager from Ashby-De-La-Zouch doesn't really seem that appealing. No offence to Zouchers. But it's a very small thing. I don't know if this is the end of the line for the Mole se
                ries, but I'm sure the younger, earlier more celebrated books are just that bit more better; but this is still a good read secondary wise; and I'd assume a must for followers of the series of books. And as a solitary book on it's own. He may not be Bridget Jones, but he has been around a hell of a lot longer and is lasting well. An enjoyable read. I'm not sure how much this costs though, as my unpriced copy is borrowed. - 26 July 2001 Posted an op on dooyoo today about that Mole book. I just want the money so I hope as many people as possible just click 'Very Useful' even if they don't read the tripe. My circle of friends are such gullable fools, I dislike them all - I hope none of them reads this entry...

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                  15.07.2001 19:42

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                  When adrian mole was young he was alot funnier. When the tv programme of the growing pains of adrian mole came out we were all laughing our socks off. But as soon as the cappuccino came on we stopped. WHAT HAPPENED!. Even the books voiced this. When I read the earlier books by Sue Townsend I was chuckling every time I turned the page, but when I read the latest one i found that our beloved adrian mole had changed for the worst. He was no longer funny, but pathetic. When we were confused about the love affairs with his parents, suddenly he finds out that he has a long lost son. Probably Sue Townsend had nothing else to write about so she sticks in that piece of rubbish. The last thing i will say is...will the real Adrian, please come back. Martyn

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                  13.06.2001 04:44
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                  In this book we follow the fortunes of a grown up Adrian Mole. Has he changed much since his teenage years it seems not. In 'The Wilderness Years' Pandora describes Adrian as being 'caught in a time warp' and it appears that he is. He is still 'profoundly in love with Pandora', Barry Kent is still his arch rival and he is still as hopeless with women (his wife wants to divorce him). Reading the Adrian Mole novels is like watching one of those programmes where they choose some children to study and then meet them again twenty years later. They ask what happened to their hopes and ambitions as a child and see how much they have changed. We do the same with Adrian. He is as funny as ever, often naive and fascinating to observe. His life is one jumbled tangle of threads. We can't help feeling a certain affection for him as he like us tries to make sense of his incomprehensible world. Even if you've never read an Adrian Mole novel before you can still find the humour and enjoy the book. There is nothing new in this book its style is the same as previous books but it's like meeting an old friend and we don't want them to change out of all recognition do we? All in all a good read.

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                  07.04.2001 23:07
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                  Adrian Mole as a child was funny, insightful and entertaining. It is a shame that this is not the case in the cappucino years. I believe that there are certain characteristics that we keep from childhood, but Adrian does not appear to have matured in the slightest. I have also to admit that the descriptions of the workers in the cafe just makes me want to puke. I had to stop reading this book having decided that I have either lost my sense of humour or I have just wasted £10.00. The characters are all unsightly. There is not one that I can feel anything for. I wish that Sue Townsend had developed something attractive and successful in Adrian. I work with homeless people and unemployed young people. Most I have known for several years. Each and everyone of them develops and have something which is "attractive". Adrian appears to have nothing. If I were readers I would stick to Adrian in his younger years. I hope if there is a further publication based on this character then he will be developed and have some traits that are recogisable as mature.

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                    09.03.2001 01:22
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                    The return of Adtrian Mole, the man who has redefined the definition of 'T.V. chef.'After the phenomenal successes of the first three books in the Mole Dynasty, Adrian returns after a 6 year break with as many worries as ever. It is extremely hard to write a synopsis of the book as it virtually follows the the same formula as her previous four, but here goes: The book begins on the eve of the General election with Labour expected to, In Adrian's words, to 'Just scrape in.' As Usual the 'Intellectual' has not had that much contact with the outside world, but this just makes for toe-curling and cringing humour. The love of his life - Pandora Braithwaite, is newly elected minister for Ashby-de-la-Zouche. However she has bigger fish to fry than Adrian and suprisingly for Adrian ignores him. Not quite as funny as the first Mole books, but Sue Townsend is certainly a comic Genius and this is a book that deserves to be read.

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                      13.02.2001 04:47
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                      If you can read, then I am sure you have read Sue Townsend`s past Mole books. This one is just as good as the last and now the BBC has given it a new sparkle, who knows where Adrian is going next. I finished reading the book on Saturday and if you are wondering about the strange boy on the bike or thinking isn`t Adrian a nastly piece of work leaving his kin(s) alone at home - then I would recommend you read the book before the BBC let you know the ending. The characters are excellent and quite amusing with their little wims and strange ways. They are also brilliantly created because they represent the type of people who you can seaily bump into in your everyday lives. Pandora`s mum for example is more worried about leaving her precious garden than losing her husband when she enbarks on an affair with - who elso but Adrian`s dad. I am not going to say too much more or you may not bother to buy the book or watch the tv. However, if you want an excellent bit of humour minus boring repetitive jokes, then read this or watch it. It really is great. If you don`t agree, please let me know.

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                        10.02.2001 18:19
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                        Adrian Mole is, once again, back in our lives - but this time he's a 30 yr old offal chef working in 'Hoi Polloi' Restaurant in Soho, London, and addicted to Opal Fruits! He is also a father to William, half Nigerian. Jo-Jo, Adrian's wife (whom are both now seperated), has moved back to Nigeria. William lives with Adrians parents, George and Pauline, and Adrian's 15 yr old foul mouthed sister, Rosie. Since his schooldays, he has always had a crush on Pandora Braithwaite, now a prospective Labour candidate for Ashby-De-La-Zouch. She's very beautiful, sexy, brainy, and to be quite honest with you, way out of Adrian's league, but they are very good friends, even though Adrian wish she was more! He rallys round any way he can in helping her in her elections. It so happens that Pauline Mole and Ivan Braithwaite, Pandora's father, have an affair with each other. It turns out that George Mole moves in with Pandora's mother, Tania, and Ivan moves in with Pauline. And, not forgetting Glenn Bott, whom Adrian Mole is possibly the father of. Sharon Bott, Glenn's mother, says it is either him or Barry Kent, the school bully and thug turned novelist and poet. But as, in Sharon's opinion, Glenn has Adrian's nose, it's probably his son. This book is seriously funny and witty, and will make you laugh and giggle from start to finish!

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                        07.12.2000 14:52

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                        Dear old Adrian is now 30 years old and I have read all of the books since his first diary was published. Adrian has not changed so in those 17 years. He still carries the world on his shoulders but now he worries about different things. The spots have now cleared up but unfortuantly the family trait of baldness is starting to rear its ugly head. He has got a serious addiction that gradually gets worse and worse throughout the book. Is to to booze or possibly cigaretts??? Nope, it is to the evil Opal Fruits!! Yes it could only be Adrian Mole. At the age of 30, Adrian still hasnt managed to find his sense of humour and is more naive than the average 10 year old! His home, personnel and work life are so complicated and I do wonder if he will end up having a heart attack with all the worrying and stress he is under. There may be one thing that Adrian is good at and that is being a father. Although he does give serious doubts all the way through about this, at the end he goes to show that he would risk anything for his children and thats what being a good parent is all about. Another sucess story by the brilliant Sue Townsend although I do wonder how a woman is able to write so many books as if she was a man! She managed to have me gigglig all the way through this book....much to everyones annoyance!

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                        06.12.2000 02:39

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                        Another great book from Susan Townsend that has the right balance of humour and realism. Witty and humorous in places this is probably the best Adrian Mole book so far. Now Adrian is 30 and a single parent his wife’s left him for Nigeria. Adrian works as a chef in London. Adrian soon works his way up from a trendy Soho restaurant to become a TV chef. Though he’s a useless chef, as he would admit. Adrian goes up in life, but what goes up must come down. A brilliant novel that will make you laugh aloud in places. Hilarious stuff!

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                    • Product Details

                      The return of Adrian Mole, now aged 30.