Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole: Sue Townsend, February 6—9, 2012
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
Adrian returns in this second outing of the Secret Diary saga.Set in 1983—1984, we continue to see the world through Adrian’s eyes as Margaret Thatcher’s Tories continue to rule. The Falklands War features prominently alongside lesser political sagas of the day.
Mole’s life picks up where The Secret Diary left off, with his on/off relationship with Pandora and his parents’ grudging reunion after both having affairs.
Reaching the age of 15, Adrian seems to be particularly naive. While that was a charming quality for a 13-year-old writer, it now makes him seem thick, dense and socially inept. Townsend needs to consider realistically the social awareness of her main character.
One complaint levelled against the prequel was the audience’s detachment from events told retrospectively. This doesn’t harm The Growing Pains to the same extent. The writing is more developed and draws the reader in more, allowing the audience to feel contemporary.
Beyond that, the writing is still humorous and the characters vivid. As a sequel, though, nothing moves on particularly from the original. Relationships do not change significantly and the plot is entertaining but forgettable. Highlights include the Moles’ marriage crisis, which is handled well. The arrival, annoyance and departure of the penpal – bizarre.
Townsend retains the charm but loses originality, which makes this a painful growth indeed. Let’s see what comes next from Mole. Let’s hope the series matures.