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Adrian Mole: the Prostrate Years - Sue Townsend

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Sue Townsend / Hardcover / 416 Pages / Book is published 2009-11-05 by Michael Joseph

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      26.11.2013 16:18
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      A great read for any Adrian Mole fan

      I have read and enjoyed the Adrian Mole series of books and I have recently been rereading some recently. This is the ninth and most recent book in the series. This book was set in 2006 - 2007, when Woolworths still existed, and the words 'credit crunch' was only slowly seeping into the nation's consciousness. I found the mention of Woolworths, and Adrian's assertion that it would always be there particularly poignant. It was a constant through the books, Adrian having often shopped there, and seems to have been included to show that nothing lasts forever, I do remember buying 'The Cappuccino Years' in Woolworths in Dundee as well, so maybe this is partly why I felt it was so poignant.

      This book sees the now 39 year old Adrian, who is living with his wife Daisy and their daughter Gracie. He is working in a second hand bookstore and is still dreaming of becoming a published author. His eldest son Glenn is away in Afghanistan and this is a constant source of concern for Adrian, particularly after the death of Glenn's best friend.

      His marriage also seems to be going stale. Both him and Daisy seem unfulfilled, and Daisy's weight gain and general moodiness seems to be having an impact on Adrian, although he seems to lack the tact and insight to fix the issues. His ever present love for Pandora is also an issue between them.

      As with other books in the series, this one provides a social and political commentary. This book mentions The Jeremy Kyle Show and how Adrian's family have been invited on to the show to discuss his younger sister's paternity. Adrian begs them not to go on the show, but his pleas fall on deaf ears. Politically, the book is set around the time of Tony Blair's resignation and Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister, although the political aspect of this book isn't as apparent as it has been in previous Mole novels. Instead, Adrian's health issues are at the forefront of the book.

      As the title of the book suggests, Adrian's prostate issues are the main concern through the book, he first notices that he has been urinating more frequently, but problems with getting an appointment with the GP means that he delays seeing medical professionals. The GP receptionist issues arte obviously exaggerated for comic effect but they do seem worryingly familiar to me. Finally after some gentle persuasion from his family and his employer, Adrian attends the Out of Hours clinic. Adrian is fast tracked through a blur of consultants, and is given the devastating news that he has prostate cancer.

      This book contains extracts of Adrian's latest literary masterpiece, the medieval influenced play Plague! As will all of Adrian's 'work' I tend to skip past these bits, as I feel they don't add anything to the story.

      This book could have been a depressing read, but somehow Townsend has managed to add humour into the story, and her own unique brand of the surreal in everyday life means that even at the worst times, we don't slide into the depressing.

      This book was originally meant to be the last in the Mole series, due to Townsend's ill health, and it brings back a lot of the characters from earlier books. 'Rat Fink' Lucas reappears, as does Brett Mole, Adrian's half brother. Most of the characters from previous books have also reappeared, including Pandora, who seems to be coming between Adrian and Daisy. Some queries from previous books are also answered, such as the gender of Leslie, the 'friend' of his boss. The book does seem to tie up the loose ends, and the ending hints that life may finally be going Adrian's way.

      As it is with all Adrian Mole books, I have a love/hate relationship with the character of Adrian, though as he gets older, he does seem to mellow a bit and he is less exasperating. There is a vulnerability in Adrian through this book that wasn't present in previous novels, particularly when he was receiving his radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I did hope for a happy ending for Adrian, that he would live happily ever after with Pandora by his side.

      As is the case with all of the Adrian Mole books, if you are a fan you will enjoy the most recent update on Adrian's life. If you're not a fan, I doubt this book would covert you. I paid £2.99 for my Kindle version, which I think is a good price to pay for a great book.

      I know that there is an update on Adrian's life planned, and was due for release this month actually (November 2013) but as Sue Townsend had a stroke last year, the release date has been pushed back. , I am really looking forward to reading more about Adrian, and I hope that Sue has the good health to continue with the series.

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      04.02.2012 19:15
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      A moving read for Adrian Mole fans

      Adrian Mole, Britain's favourite diarist, is now 39 and a quarter. As we pick up his life story in 2007, Adrian is living in a converted pigsty in rural Leicestershire with his wife, Daisy, and their little daughter, Gracie. As per usual, Adrian's life is full of worries, which range from The Middle East to the behavioural problems of his daughter, who is showing, "alarming Stalinist traits." The second hand bookshop where Adrian works looks likely to close, his son Glenn is fighting in Afghanistan and his marriage is going rapidly downhill. His long-suffering wife is growing increasingly dependent on chocolate digestive biscuits and listening to Leonard Cohen. There is also the somewhat embarrassing fact that Adrian is getting up to urinate three times during the night. He tells himself it can't be anything too serious -- after all, he's not yet 40 and everyone knows prostate cancer is 'the curse of the old man' -- but could it be that our hapless hero is about to face his toughest challenge yet?

      It is to Sue Townsend's credit that she manages to write about the sensitive subject of Adrian's illness without losing any of the comedy that the Mole books are famous for. That said, I did find this book more difficult to read than the other books in the series. I feel as if I have grown up with Adrian Mole. I have read and loved every single diary (this is the 9th in the series.) The idea that Adrian could have a serious illness really shocked me. It was as if it was happening to someone I knew. In the way that you tend to think your friends and family are immortal, the same goes for your favourite fictional characters. It is a testament to the author's skill that she makes us care so much about her main character, despite his faults - and Adrian has many. I also admired Sue Townsend's ability to put Adrian into a totally new situation with new challenges yet he still remains true to his character. His thoughts and feelings seem completely credible and in keeping with what you would expect from him. Adrian is still Adrian. At no time when I was reading this book did I find myself thinking, "I'm not sure Adrian would really react like that."

      Despite the darker subject matter, there were many moments when this book had me laughing out loud. Adrian is still the same pedantic, naïve and gullible character of the earlier books, a classic underachiever. In one memorable episode he gets barred from the dry cleaner's for leaving a packet of Starburst in a jacket pocket. As Adrian observes, this seems to sum up his entire life. "Other men get barred from pubs and wine bars, I get barred from a dry cleaner's." He still has a deluded opinion of his own literary talents, his latest venture being a characteristically dire medieval play called 'Plague', excerpts of which he confidently sends to Trevor Nunn. He is still writing letters to famous people, such as Gordon Brown MP (then the Chancellor), from whom he seeks advice regarding his tax arrears.

      Many familiar characters from the earlier books put in an appearance, including Adrian's rich and successful half-brother, Brett, his ex-girlfriend, Sharon Botts, his blind & gay friend, Nigel, and of course the beautiful and brilliant Pandora, the love of his life, who is a junior minister in the Labour government.

      My favourite characters in all the Adrian Mole books are Pauline and George, Adrian's parents, who have been a constant source of embarrassment to their son over the years. Once again they are in fine form. Adrian's father is now in a wheelchair following a stroke, but still smokes 30 cigarettes a day and eats fry-ups. His mother is writing a totally fictitious autobiography. For all their vulgarity and clueless parenting, Pauline and George remain likeable and are more than mere caricatures. With Pauline in particular, you do get a sense of her frustrations, regrets and lost dreams. Adrian sums it up when he describes his mother's face as "its usual mask of Max Factor foundation and disappointment with life."

      I admire Sue Townsend's ability to draw humour out of situations that less bold writers might tread carefully around or shy away from for fear of causing offence. Adrian's sickness is handled with sensitivity, but with dry humour, such as his first digital rectal examination and a visit to an NHS wig supplier - "the first wig I tried on was black and parted to one side and made me look like Gok Wan." However, the comedy never trivialises the subject matter and never prevents Adrian's fears from coming through. The humour makes it all the more poignant somehow because we have laughed so many times at Adrian's misfortunes over the years but have always been delighted to see him bounce back. This time, as I was reading the book, his resilience didn't seem so certain.

      I love the way that the book refers to noteworthy events of 2007 and 2008, such as floods, post office closures, MPs' expenses, the war in Afghanistan, the smoking ban and the credit crunch, showing the impact upon the different people in Britain - the old, the young, the rich, the poor etc. I laughed at the references to many of the ridiculous things that define Britain in the 21st century - from bad taste TV and politically correct nativity plays to wheelie bin protocol and the impossibility of getting a doctor's appointment if you phone after 8.30 a.m.

      Many people who enjoyed the earlier books in the series say that they have found Adrian's character increasingly irritating as he has got older. However, for me this combination of irritating and well-meaning is part of Adrian's charm and I do think there is a little of him in all of us. I felt that his character did develop during this book and he seemed to get a new perspective on life as a result of his experiences, without having a clichéd 'wake up call.' It was a lot more subtle than that. If you have read the other Adrian Mole books, I would recommend this as the next step in Adrian's life journey. If you haven't read any previous Mole books, I would not recommend starting with this one as it would be quite difficult to understand who all the characters are and how they have interacted with each other in the past.

      Although I enjoyed the book, it was my least favourite of all the Adrian Mole books. This was not just because of its more sombre subject matter. Much as I am amused by Sue Townsend's sharp observations of modern Britain, I find that laughing at the chavs can get a little tedious. Perhaps I've just seen too many Jeremy Kyle Shows in real life, so a description of Sharon Botts' household doesn't have quite the same impact as it once did. Some of the elements of the earlier books, which I had particularly enjoyed, were noticeably lacking in The Prostrate Years, such as Adrian's interactions with his children. William doesn't feature in this book at all and Glenn is in Afghanistan for most of the time. I found that I missed the scenes between Adrian and his boys. In the latest novel, Adrian does not seem to have a particularly strong bond with his daughter and I never really warmed to her. Also there are no romantic episodes with weird women of dubious mental health, as has become customary for Adrian (such as Marigold Flowers and Eleanor Flood from the earlier books.) I also lamented the absence of certain characters, who have been favourites of mine, such as 'people's poet', Barry Kent and Pandora's mother, Tania Braithwaite. However, Townsend does provide some interesting new characters, namely the delightfully eccentric Bernard Hopkins from the book shop, who is an absolute hoot.

      All in all, I found this a good read with plenty of very funny moments, despite the underlying bleakness. Plot-wise, some of the things that happen are predictable, but it is often the case with the Mole diaries. Much of the humour comes from Adrian's inability to see what is glaringly obvious to the reader. There are some touching moments, particularly at the end. The book did seem to end rather abruptly and without tying up all the loose ends, which I found a little frustrating, but I expect this was to leave things open for yet another diary. I hope Adrian returns soon, fit and well.

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        08.03.2011 18:04
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        Is Adrian really growing up at last?

        ==Synopsis of the book:==

        Hard to believe it but Adrian Mole is now thirty-nine and a quarter years old. However some things never change in his disastrous life, he is struggling to pay his mortgage and his relationship with his wife Daisy is strained at the best of times. They are living in a semi detached converted pigsty with their next-door neighbours being Adrian's parents. He is still working at the second hand bookshop as his passion is still books and he is still trying to get his work produced by the BBC.

        Some things never change as he is still in love with his first love the MP Pandora Braithwaite although he rarely sees her due to her Parliamentary commitments. Adrian problems are made worse by his very numerous visits he has to make to the toilet, that all close to him are all too aware of. Eventually he manages to make an appointment and see his Doctor only to be told he now has a prostate problem. How will he cope with his shocking news and will trying to resolve it bring the sparkle back into his distant marriage.

        ==My thoughts on the novel:==

        The Adrian Mole novels are something I seem to have grown up with. The first of the ten novels so far in the series was written back in 1985. This gives the reader a year in the life of Adrian as he approaches and enters his 40's. It is written as a diary with Mr Mole writing about the highlights and lowlights of his day, his thoughts on it and needless to say his worries as well.

        As with all these series of novels they are firstly well written and secondly very amusing. This story for me was a little more serious with Adrian facing up to not only the concerns around aging parents but his own mortality as well. I thought this was excellently written as it showed the concerns anyone has with ailments that they do not understand and that maybe life threatening.

        I for once really sympathised for him, he was no longer just an amazing and quite laughable individual, he was now someone I felt a closer more caring bond with. However at the same time through well thought out and some clever situations you still had the humour. Not necessarily about this problem in particular but by what was going on around him with his friends, family and other members of his village.

        In many ways for me this was Adrian Mole finally coming of age and having to face and deal with his responsibilities. I have always admired the way the author manages to start any of her novels with a few themes and these will be revisited at various times with his diary. They are usually themes we can all relate to such as worrying about his Children, a marriage that has lost its way and financial concerns. But with him being an eccentric character they also include worrying over his daughter Gracie showing Stalinist traits and writing to Gordon Brown about his tax bill.

        For me the humour in this novel was definitely muted by the more serious issues affecting Adrian, but there were still plenty of situations, misunderstandings and characters to find funny. I must admit I chuckled a good few times at the author's wonderful observations that she will give both Adrian and the other leading characters in the story. I really like the way she will relate what is happening in the news at that time to how the characters react to it.

        Adrian Mole is the central character in the story and his diary is always written from his viewpoint. What I always find amusing about him is he is a Mr straight and while intelligent, he fails to see what is happening to him but can see what is wrong with other people's lives. I have spent the last twenty plus years changing as Adrian has done and so in some ways I find him easier to understand than most. I always enjoy the way he will quite miss the point of a conversation and bury his head in the sand rather than deal with a tricky situation.

        He is supported by a cast that have been in the main ever-present size the first book. I really enjoy learning about what they have been up to and their latest scams, worries and other news affecting them. What makes these characters work so well both as interesting and humourus personalities are the depth and the knowledge about them that the author discloses. So that he can picture the scene that is being described and they way the other characters within it will react, to either a funny line or an innuendo that was or wasn't meant.

        What surprised me particularly in this story was there was certain facts the author I did not use enough or exploit. I would have expected for example his son Glen fighting in Afghanistan to be upper most in his thoughts by he was rarely mentioned. There was also his financial position, which became more acute as the story continued which only really got a mention in passing. I know he had other things to worry about but I thought those two would still be high up on his list of concerns.

        For me this will not go down as one of the best in the series as while the humour was still there is good quantities it was also tainted by first his declining Health but secondly a feeling for me that nothing really changes for him. He is still facing similar problems that he was dealing with years before and for me there was an air of nothing really new happening to him. Yes of course there were his Health problems but his family was as ever in turmoil with new revelations, you get to the point when you wonder what next as the author tries to keep them all interesting to the reader.

        These novels are always quite long, with this one being 416 pages, but I found it literally sailed past. I found it fascinating as either what would happen to Adrian or his family. It took me just 3 days to read it and because the writing style was so easy to read and with great content I found I was loathed to put the thing down. I managed to pick up my paperback version of this book through Amazon for just £7.19 and despite not being the best in the series still a welcome addition and a very good update on him Adrian, his family and friends lives.

        Overall it was nice to read a different kind of novel and one in which it was an easy story to follow and one which at times was very funny and enjoyable. All I need to do now is wait another couple of years to get my next fix of his life.



        ==Conclusion:==

        I have loved all the Adrian Mole series of books and this one is not an exception to that. For me this is in part a more serious piece of fiction with the author dealing with sensitive issues, which meant it was probably a slighter deeper read with more genuine factors to worry about. While there was still some fantastically amusing parts and scenes to enjoy and some wonderful characters to appreciate. I would still recommend this as an entertaining read but not for me one of Sue Townsend's best.

        Thanks for reading my review.

        This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.

        ©CPTDANIELS March 2011.

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          06.10.2010 12:12
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          If you've read the previous diaries of Adrian Mole, you'll want to read this one too

          It took me a while to get into this book (which is a problem I haven't had with previous Adrian Mole books), but once I did it was good to have old Moley back in my life!

          Now pushing 40, Adrian is living in a converted pigsty with his wife Daisy who is becoming ever distant and his young daughter who insists on wearing fairy wings and other fancy dress to school each day, much to the teacher's disgust! His mum and Dad are living next door and his son Glen is fighting in Afghanistan in a war he doesn't understand.

          As his marriage crumbles, and he develops prostate problems, he starts to think again about his one true love - Pandora.

          The book offers the level of humour that you would expect from Sue Townsend, but it is also slightly darker with some real moments of sadness which gives it a bit of an edge.

          The book ends with you wanting to know what happens to Adrian next so I hope that there's another instalment soon!

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          01.10.2010 12:30
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          Not how an Adrian Mole should be

          I have just returned this book to the library, and have to say I was quite disappointed with it.

          I have read ever Adrian Mole book that has ever entered the library, and this one did not quite satisfy the laughter that I feel when I finish an Adrian Mole book.

          This volume follows Adrian when he has moved into the Piggeries development next to his mum and dad. He has married Daisy and has a daughter Gracie. He is still working in the bookshop, and in this book we find out whether Leslie (the partner of the bookshop owner) is a man or a woman after years of wondering.

          Adrian covers issues such as politicians expenses, as Pandora is still working in politics and is not spending much time in her local constituency. Also covered is the smoking ban, Adrians parents and Daisy are avid smokers and the local pub closes because of the ban. Theres also issues about cancer and the NHS being overrun and it being a nightmare to even get an appointment.

          There are moments in the book that are funny, but I think the author has tried to get too many references to todays society in and ignored Adrians usual letters to many people to try and get things done. Its also quite a sad book as you will find out towards the later parts, and Adrian seems more depressed than usual. In the past I havent ever felt sorry for him but now his character has changed slightly and bad things seem to keep happening to him without being funny anymore.

          If you are an Adrian Mole fan and have been following the books for years then you need to read it as theres another one coming out next year, if you arent a fan then dont bother. Its a bad place in the series to start and doesnt show Adrian at his best.

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          30.09.2010 20:19
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          Adrian Mole's take on staring middle age in the face

          Adrian Mole is an essentially English comic creation - a voice for the misunderstood of Middle England if you will - who has been sharing his thoughts and view of the world with us for over 25 years now. A creation of the hugely observant Sue Townsend, Mole started with his "secret" diary when he was aged 13 and thee quarters, and his latest volume sees him staring middle age in the face with his 40th birthday looming.

          I have followed Adrian's life story through the years, having found Townsend's ability to bring her chief protagonist and all who pass through his diary to life so vividly to be one of the most appealing things about her books - along with the laugh out loud humour she manages to extract from a character who is probably best described overall as "anally retentive".

          ~~Prostate or Prostrate~~

          When the book opens Adrian is working in an independent bookshop which also deals in second hand and antiquarian books. He is living in a converted piggery in the village of Mangold Parva in Leicestershire with his second wife Daisy and his daughter Gracie. His parents, George and Pauline, live next door.

          Townsend manages to paint a picture of claustrophobia in an area which is paradoxically in the middle of nowhere due to the proximity of his parents and his unravelling relationship with his wife. The family regularly visit the local pub and Post Office where everyone knows everyone else's business and isn't afraid to express an opinion on it.

          Adrian's eldest son Glenn is serving with the army in Afghanistan and while his father seems to view him as a bit of a dullard, to the reader he comes across as an incredibly perceptive young man who is doing a job but can't understand what good can come of it. Adrian's absolute certainty that he is intellectually superior to his son is both hilarious and depressing at the same time.

          Townsend has never shirked from painting Adrian Mole as a pretty unsympathetic character at times and in having him suffer prostate cancer in the book (with the title clearly a play on words) the reader might expect to find themselves being more sympathetic to his plight, but Townsend manages to keep Mole's less pleasant traits firmly on show, even when there is much pathos in her prose.

          However there is much to admire in Adrian's typically English "stiff upper lip" attitude which is on display for much of the time in the book, as he endures radiotherapy and chemotherapy to deal with his cancer while his wife is having an affair with another man.

          When it comes to Adrian's failing relationship with his wife the prose is a little predictable in places. From the first page of the book one can sense we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Adrian and Daisy's marriage - and I don't even feel I am giving the plot away by saying this because it is so obvious.

          The relationship Adrian shares with his daughter is far more interesting, and he goes from being an almost impotent force in her life to finding her to be a delight to be around following an epiphany brought about by his brush with mortality.

          Similarly Townsend portrays Adrian's relationship with his parents very well and much of the book's humour comes from his blunt and ignorant father and his hair brained mother. For all that Adrian berates his parents in his diary there is a very strong bond between them.

          There are some criticisms however. In addition to being able to spot some plot devices a mile off, some events are recorded in the diary but never followed up - for instance Adrian, who frequently mentions his money woes throughout the diary, gives his mother his credit card to buy a very expensive handbag for his wife's Christmas gift online and then his wife uses the same card to buy a very expensive gift for his mother. As one who can well remember the huge telephone bill the teenage Adrian ran up and his indignation at having to pay it, it seems strange that he wouldn't mention receiving the bill and how much had been run up on it.

          Some of the political observations are less than subtle too. The smoking ban is featured and you just know as soon as it comes into force the poorly run village pub is going to be in trouble. There are also references to MP's expenses - Adrian's childhood girlfriend Pandora is an MP - and how profligate Members of Parliament seem to be with them.

          Townsend also weaves in topical references to the credit crunch such as Adrian's reminisces of Woolworths and how it stands as a beacon of permanency in uncertain times. Oh, if only.

          ~~Finally~~

          I can't say this was my favourite Adrian Mole book - I have read all of his previous musings and found this one to lack some of the charm of previous volumes.

          However as an observation of Britain in the late noughties, it makes for an interesting read, with Townsend able to use Adrian Mole to poke fun at the government and satirise the failings of doctors' surgeries to offer appointments to the sick urgently, daytime TV, the cult of celebrity and the general dumbing down of society, never mind the smoking ban, fox hunting, the war on terror and the political correctness that seems to have touched many a nativity play in the country.

          She also satirises a society which pities anyone with cancer to such an extent that healthy people with no experience of the disease patronise those with it as opposed to sympathising - no doubt due to their own fear of developing it. The pathos and sincerity of Townsend's writing as Adrian undergoes treatment for his prostate cancer is very touching indeed but it's to her credit that she touches upon how the healthy can react to the sick and sadly it's not always the way we would expect it to be.

          Overall I did enjoy "The Prostrate Years" and would recommend - but it's an altogether darker read than previous Mole books in places.

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            29.01.2010 12:43
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            Another brilliant entry from the Mole diaries

            This is fantastic. A while back, before reading "The Cappuccino Years", I thought Adrian Mole was a figure relegated to my own teenage years, and was surprised to find that Sue Townsend had continued to tell Adrian's story through various short diaries and finally in the aforementioned Cappuccino book. That book brought us bang up to date with Adrian as he served Offal in a Soho restaurant, continued to lust after a relationship with the effusive Pandora, and loathed his existence as the working class son of his chain smoking parents.

            Now, Adrian finds himself in present day, living in a converted piggery with his overbearing mother and disabled father in the converted pigsty next door. Adrian finds himself central to a host of new drama's, all to the amusement of the reader. Of course, whilst the humour spills off of every page, this one provides us with the most poignant of Adrian's stories to date. As hinted at in the title, Adrian goes through a prostate health scare, that has his family rally round to support, berate and terrify Adrian in equal measures.

            As Adrian's family prepare to go on the Jeremy Kyle show to resolve the issue of sister Rosie's parentage, Adrian is mortified. He shares his mortification of that and other things with his employer Mr Carton-Hayes, an elderly fellow who runs the local book shop that Adrian works in. A myriad of hilarious character's pass through the shop to provide author Townsend with her usual blend of funny anecdotes and referential statements on modern society.

            The biggest thread throughout the book is the marriage between Adrian and his temperamental wife Daisy. Adrian's amusing diatribes about her increasing waistline and her increasingly fed up antics, as he struggles to make sense of her behaviour, will hit home with many apathetic readers who have saw their relationship go down the toilet without them having the gusto to do anything about it.

            Other recurring characters include the always hilarious Pandora who makes a sweeping comeback to aide Adrian through his troubles, Glenn, Adrian's illegitimate son who is now serving in Afghanistan, and Brett, Adrian's boring half brother who has just lost his mother 'Stick Insect'.

            What Sue Townsend does amazingly well is placing Adrian in modern day Britain, with plenty of humorous asides to the political state of the country. We all remember the country going into a downslide as the current recession hit, and that is present in all its glory here in this book. There are other amusement such as Adrian's statement that you can always rely on the trusty Woolworths.

            Adrian is a foolish dreamer, but you cant help but get carried along with this character who has always wanted something better. His writings are horrendous, and he is horribly snobbish to his own family, but there's something sad about his consistent failure as an author, a father and a husband. Maybe Townsend will decide to give Adrian a happy ending, and make him a bestselling author next time around, but somehow I doubt it.

            This book is currently only available on Hardback, RRP £18.99 although I got it for nearly half that on amazon brand new.

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              19.01.2010 07:30
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              Adrian Mole and co are back in this hilarious, ninth instalment in the saga

              Adrian Mole is now 39¼ and living, quite literally, in a pigsty, sharing an all too thin party wall with his parents and working in a bookshop. It's not quite how life was supposed to turn out. As he spends his days wrestling his strong willed 5 year old Gracie into her school uniform, trying to reassure glamorous wife Daisy that life in the provinces is not as bad as she would like to believe, and desperately attempting to talk his mother out of her quest to appear on the vile Jeremy Kyle show, worrying over his increasingly frequent visits to the toilet is really the last thing he needs. And yet, the worst is still to come. Think a crumbling economy, redundancy, affairs, death, a family member challenging him in the novel writing stakes and a query over the big C - it's going to be a tough year for the Moles, and there's little that ol' Adrian can do except sit back and watch his life spin out of control around him.

              The book starts in mid 2007 so, with a sense of déjà vu meets 'Flashforward' we are transported to a world where all the smart people are investing their money in some Icelandic banks offering killer interest rates, a certain MP by the name of Pandora can stick expensive birthday presents on her parliamentary expenses and Adrian can keep himself busy in the Pick-and-Mix counter at Woolworths. Those were the days. It's really quite fun to read a book set in the recent, real past, if only for the ease with which you can predict the future and gloat accordingly, something made a bit trickier with books set longer ago in a time you might not recall so clearly. There is a subtle humour to the extracts that pick up on the world situation in the last eighteen months or so that is hard to resist breaking into a grin at.

              Sue Townsend has a real knack for authentically capturing the voices of her wide ranging cast of characters in all her books, but Adrian remains one of my favourites and this book was even better than I'd expected it to be. I have managed to miss the 'adult' Adrian Mole books though I devoured the early editions as a teenager. Picking up the story twenty five years or so later, it's reassuring to see that little has changed. Adrian is still his wonderful, naive, hapless old self with ambitions that consistently fail to be realised. His close ally, Diary, provides a fabulous outlet for his venting, and a considerate ear for the worries that befall his personal life. He has clearly grown older, but not much wiser, since the publishing of his initial musings, but there is a certain charm to the bloke that just never goes away. Only a man of this calibre could take something as unsexy as a prostate problem and turn it into a hilarious yet touching tale, complete with all the ins, the outs, and the rectal exams.

              I imagine that most people who will snap this title up will already be devotees of the Mole gang, and certainly knowing the history of the various relationships is helpful for setting context. There is no assumption that you will know Adrian's life so far, though, and no reason why you couldn't start with this book, and then work through the back catalogue.

              This is a sweet book that won't fail to cheer you up on even the dampest and darkest of winter days, and would be a great present for a fan of the series. They won't be disappointed.


              Postscript: Having enjoyed this so much, I recently borrowed her 'adult' titles to fill in the gaps and though they were ok, I still thought this one outshone them in many ways. I might not re-read those, but I'll certainly be flicking through Prostate again in the future.


              This title is currently available only in Hardback or airport edition paperback - though Amazon and other places are selling it for half price so it's still not too too expensive, and great value for money given how nice and long it is.


              This review first appeared last year on www.thebookbag.co.uk

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                13.01.2010 13:02
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                Another great read

                This is the latest from Sue Townsend's series of Adrian Mole books. As with all previous novels it is written in the style of Adrian's diary. Mole is a well-known literary character and the novels have been coming out since the early eighties.

                The Prostrate Years is pretty typical of the previous books - social commentary/satire sprinkled with the dysfunctional family tales from the Moles, all told from the point of view of Adrian, still a failed intellectual, unlucky in love and a neurotic but with a good heart. He is close to his family.

                This diary takes us through Adrian's 40th birthday, his family going on the Jeremy Kyle show, yet another friendship with an OAP (Adrian seems to attract them as anyone who remembers Bert Baxter will know), marriage problems and a serious health problem.

                Sprinkled in throughout is a very real view of the recession and the war in Afghanistan, with Adrian's son fighting over there. It's all very gently done, but quite moving I think.

                Adrian's battle to get well (I'll not give too much away) is really touching and again not overdone.

                There are the usual mad characters - old and new - including Pandora, Adrian's teenage love and now a Government Minister, Nigel, his blind, gay best friend, his eccentric parents, wayward sister, Rosie and various others popping up throughout.

                I am a big fan of Sue Townsend, having read all her novels, but Adrian Mole is my favourite. The Prostrate Years continues his story and it was both funny and really touching as well as being a look at the world we live in. If you are a fan of Adrian then you'll love this, if not go back to the first novel (when Adrian is 13) and get started, you have several great books to look foward to.

                I hope there will be more to come from Sue Townsend, who has suffered her own health problems over the years. I really enjoyed this and will read it again. I got it as a present but I believe you can pick it up for a about a tenner on Amazon.

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                  28.12.2009 20:13
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                  a must for Mole fans

                  Like many Brits I have grown up with Adrian Mole, I loved the secret diaries charting the thoughts of a geeky teenager growing up in a dysfunctional family in the 1980s and watching the series on TV too. Sue Townsend has continued to periodically write about Adrian's adult life but these books have been a bit hit and miss; the previous book in the series "The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole 1999-2001" was terrible with single parent Adrian coming across as a dislikeable and pretentious loser. I'm glad to say that "The Prostrate Years" is a big improvement on the Lost Diaries with Sue Townsend back to her old form.

                  "The Prostrate Years" is set during 2008 and 2009. Adrian is now approaching his 40th birthday and seems top have finally found his niche in life, he is now married to Daisy and they have a precocious and wilful little girl called Gracie. The family live next door to his aging parents who have now been reunited and Adrian works in a second hand book shop and writes plays in his spare time but rather than send them off to the BBC he seems content to write for the local amateur dramatic society. Things take a turn for the worst when the Adrian's need to get up to the toilet constantly during the night turns out to be caused by prostate cancer and he undergoes treatment to try and get the cancer under control. Daisy goes back to work to support the family but seems to have fallen for the charms of her boss the wealthy Hugo Fairfax-Lycett. Pandora Braithwaite hears of Adrian's troubles and seems to have a soft spot for her first love and gets in touch with her old friend. Will Adrian's life any get any better or will he continue to lurch from one disaster to another?

                  Adrian's family also feature prominently in the story. His father is now wheelchair bound and as cantankerous as ever while his mother continues to smoke like a chimney and be the life and soul of the party. Like her son she has started to write, her offering being a misery lit book called "A Girl Called Shit". Brother Brett turns up, people are mumbling about the beginnings of something called a credit crunch and the once well heeled banker is now broke and sleeping on his dads sofa. Sister Rosie causes drama by deciding she wants to resolve the issue of her paternity once and for all by going on the Jeremy Kyle show much to Adrian's disgust. Luckily Adrian's friend the frequently suicidal and alcoholic Bernard is a source of support and companionship during all these dramas.

                  What Sue Townsend has always done best is social satire, the years 2008 and 2009 saw the ban on smoking in public places, the credit crunch and the war in Afghanistan where young Glenn Mole is fighting for queen and country and these are all commented on with wry humour. Other contemporary topics are covered including Gordon Brown's performance, the all you can eat carvery, civil partnerships, town centres being wrecked by Tesco and of course Townsend can't resist poking fun at the royal family with the outcome of the enquiry into Diana's death proving especially rich material.

                  The Prostrate Years may not sound promising when you hear that one of the main themes is about Adrian coping with prostate cancer but his illness is written about both in a poignant and witty way. There are lots of references to the first two books in the series with lots of reminiscing about his teenage life which will be a real treat for long term Mole fans. The book is bang up to date with the social commentary and provides a nice snapshot of life near the end of the first decade of the 21st century and I'm sure people will look back fondly at the whole series as the books give a real flavour of the times in which they were written. The Prostrate Years is a must for any Adrian Mole fan to find out how life pans out for Adrian as he hits the big 40 and the way the book ends leaves the possibility for another update to be written about Adrian's life in the future and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series coming out.

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                    28.11.2009 11:09
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                    You've gotta read this book if you've read the other diaries of Adrian Mole.

                    This is a review of the book Adrian Mole The Prostrate Years by Sue Townsend.

                    I'm a big fan of Sue Townsend, particularly the Mole diaries so I was anxiously awaiting the launch of this book. I tried to make myself wait until the Christmas hols to read and enjoy it but I caved in this week and bought it in a 'feeling sorry for myself' moment. I got the hardback book from Amazon for £8.54 - a bargain really.

                    This time, Adrian's back at age 39 and it picks up from the last diarised novel (the Weapons of Mass Destruction). He begins the book in a traditional way, listing the things that are worrying him. New to him are the worrying signs of prostate trouble, a wife (Daisy, the strong-willed half Mexican stormy beauty) and Gracie, his five year old hillarious daughter.

                    Some old characters return to the storyline, his mother's ex-lover 'Rat Fink Lucas' and his father's ex lover 'Stick Insect', Adrian's half brother financial guru Brett who is down on his luck due to the credit crunch and politician Pandora his life-time fantasy woman.

                    I don't want to give away the storyline as it will spoil reading but in this review I am pleased to say I loved it, Adrian's character is consistently portrayed. I wish it was longer but for me it would never be long enough. The ending leaves scope for a further novel(s) thankfully.

                    A few other reviews I've read on Amazon and here mention disappointment over the fact that certain characters eg. Animal (the builder) are missing and not mentioned in the novel. I suppose we must bear in mind that the converted piggeries (the Moles' home) is completed so he has naturally disappeared. I didn't mind this at all and didn't feel it was necessary to include him further in the storyline.

                    One of my favourite characters is Mr Carlton-Hayes, the book shop owner of whom Adrian is very fond. In this book we find out the sex of Mr C-H's Partner Lesley and it's done in a very caring and lovely way.

                    Ongoing family sagas run through the book (it is traditional Mole family drama) which result in the family going on the Jeremy Kyle show to discover the true paternity of Adrian's sister Rosie.

                    Sue Townsend is clearly a very intelligent woman and she uses the Mole diaries to convey her political thoughts and life observations throughout. My favourite reference in the book is to the number of 'pity me I had a terrible childhood' books that are clogging the shelves of many book shops. Adrian's mum (Pauline) writes a book called "A girl called sh*t" much to Adrian's dismay, she fabricates her childhood including rough potato sack clothing and we glimpse excerpts of her novel when Adrian sneaks a look at her draft. He's torn between disgust of her lies and jealousy that her work is going to be published!

                    I could go on and on about this book but really I would just say go out and buy it and read it. It's full of amusing lines whilst raising awareness and portraying the serious nature of prostate cancer and the treatment which can go with it.

                    Thanks for reading this review.

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                      11.11.2009 22:59
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                      worth a read

                      I picked up the latest "Mole" at Heathrow Airport on the way back to Vienna, and ripped through it on the flight and on public transport within a couple of days. So was it so good that I really couldn't put it down? I tend to read an Adrian Mole with a slightly glib air of schadenfreude - possibly I tend to examine Mole's failings as a way of affirming my own life. Again with the latest Mole I found myself doing this.

                      The fact is that Adrian fails to see the elephant in the room on occasions - a phrase that is mentioned several times (as well as the rhinoceros that Pandora speaks of). His myopic view of things - his name can surely not be pure coincidence - is much the same as in previous books, although he remains topical, given the interspersing of actual current affairs events (e.g. Tony Blair's resignation, the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the emerging financial crisis with Northern Rock and accounts held in Icelandic banks).

                      Whilst previous Mole books have seen him worry about homelessness, debt, and hair loss, the prevailing mal du jour is prostate cancer - and his ongoing treatment is one of the books' ongoing themes. Fear not if you are on the squeamish side - graphic detail is generally spared - but hopefully the book does remind readers that cancer can and does strike at any age.

                      Similarly his family, and its many intricacies once again feature prominently - not least because he is living next door to his parents in Mangold Parva. There are revelations of lineage in the book - he may not be his father's son, while his sister, Rosie is proven in mawkish fashion via the Jeremy Kyle Show to be only a half-sister. Similarly, his half-brother, Brett, who appears to be the antithesis of Adrian at the start of the book also returns to the fold.

                      The book takes up the story at the start of 2007 - the previous Mole had finished in August 2003 with Adrian in blissful happiness with Daisy, and I had expected that to be the point at which we left Adrian's world behind. The final entry of the previous book seems to ring true - possibly Adrian taking up his diary again in 2007 is a portent of his lack of marital happiness. Readers from previous books see continuing themes - the identity of Mr. Carlton-Hayes friend Leslie - and whether Leslie is a man or woman - is a continued theme for most of the book, however there is no mention of Animal - the labourer at the Piggeries who may, or may not have had a relationship with Pauline Mole. Similarly, Barry Kent, does not even get a mention, although of course Pandora Braithwaite is still an object of his infatuation - as his passion for Daisy Flowers has cooled, and the ending is hideously open-ended - readers will have no fear, health permitting, that there are plenty more Moles in the pipeline.

                      I enjoyed reading the book, although possibly this is due to a certain extent that I find Mole to be quite escapist - since there are no similarities with my own circumstances. I've after all grown up with Adrian Mole - I remember first reading the first volume aged 6-7 (I was fairly precocious!) but I find that he has stagnated somewhat - for all his so-called verbosity and apparent knowledge of literature, it surprises me that he does not try to bring this out more in his diary.

                      I would advise reading Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction before you read Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years - if will help to put the book in a better context as well as to highlight his ongoing turmoil contained within the book.

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                        06.11.2009 18:33
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                        Worth reading, and make sure you read his previous diaries too!

                        Adrian Mole is one of Britain's most brilliant comic creations. He's neurotic, pedantic, courageless, but somehow very loveable. Many people will have grown up with the Mole books, and will empathise with Adrian's teenage days in the eighties, his newfound adulthood and responsibilities in the nineties, and his mid life crises in the noughties. Now he's back, it's 2007 and Adrian is aged 39 ½.

                        Adrian is living in a converted pigsty in Leicester with his wife Daisy and their four year old daughter Gracie. Living next door are Adrian's baby-boomer parents: the wheelchair bound George Mole and his flirtacious and attention-seeking wife Pauline. Adrian is still working in a bookshop alongside the elderly Mr Carlton-Hayes. Adrian's current list of worries includes: the economy, his wife's friendship with Mr Fairfax-Lycett, Gordon Brown's ability to take over from Tony Blair, and the fact that he finds himself getting up to urinate 12 times per night.

                        People who have read the previous Mole books will recognise many favourite characters from the past, including: Nigel, Wayne Wong, the Stick Insect, "Rat-Fink" Lucas, and, most importantly, Adrian's ex girlfriend, Pandora.

                        The title is "The Prostrate years", which is a pun really, as Adrian becomes more and more worried about possible prostate trouble in the book, and people insist on pronouncing it prostrate. As we know, prostrate means something to do with lying down (?) which is something Adrian does do a lot in the book, so the title has a double meaning. The illustration on the front shows a vase of flowers, one of which is drooping, hinting at the second meaning of the title.

                        **The Best Bits**

                        Adrian's parents appearing on the Jeremy Kyle show to settle once and for all the issue of Adrian's sister Rosie's paternity.

                        Pauline Mole's hilariously fabricated autobiography, "A Girl Called S***"

                        Adrian: "I thanked God that I had put my insurance money into that fail-safe Icelandic account".

                        Adrian: "It is good to know that whatever travails we may suffer in life, Woolworths will always be there".

                        **The Worst Bits**

                        Not as funny as the eighties books, not as thoughtful as Adrian Mole and the WMD.


                        **Overall**

                        I definitely enjoyed this book but not as much as I have other Mole diaries (you will be relieved to know, however, it is much better than last year's The Lost Diaries which were terribly disappointing).

                        I was surprised there was a sequel to Adrian Mole and the WMD as the ending was very well written and sealed everything nicely. However, I'm sure lots of people were disappointed that Adrian and Pandora did not get together at the end, and I would definitely like the series to continue as long as possible.

                        Anyone who hasn't done already should immediately read the old Adrian Mole books because they are absolutely hilarious. In particular, the school trip scene in (I think) the Growing Pains of Adrian Mole. These books are available at almost every library in the UK, but make sure you check the kids' section, as they might be there.

                        **Additional Info**
                        RRP is £18.99 but should be around £10 online or at the supermarkets.
                        Hard back
                        405 pages

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