Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Adrian Mole – The Wilderness Years: Sue Townsend, May 29—June 1, 2014
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
Adrian Mole is back to his brilliant best in The Wilderness Years. The return to the original daily diary format is a welcome decision after a very experimental third instalment.
Following Adrian’s life in 1991-1992, the latest edition sees many changes in the life of our hero, aged 23 to 25. Picking up where the True Confessions left off, he is still in now-married Pandora’s box room. His parents have split and Bert Baxter, 100, continues to make demands of his time.
The decision to introduce a new love interest for Mole as one of the major plots works excellently. This time, it is Mole who completely misses Bianca’s clear-as-day invitations to ask her out which couldn’t be plainer to the reader. A funny and refreshing departure from his unrequited love of Pandora, and Townsend keeps us guessing as to whether he will cotton on and get the girl or suffer yet another comic tragedy.
Other significant plots include Mole seeing a therapist, frequent house moves and collapsing career at the government’s Department of Newts. The ongoing writing of his novel leads to more hilarious exchanges with John Tynsdale of the BBC, while the expansion of the Barry Kent writing storyline is absolutely fantastic.
Most of the veterans – Mum, Dad, Granny, Pandora, Baxter, Sharon Botts and Kent – are still around in smaller roles, while some brilliant new characters play a larger role in Mole’s relocated life. It’s a natural reflection of life and a route Townsend had to take eventually, and she does so seamlessly. She really makes the best of the old guard without interrupting the adoption of the newbies.
The Wilderness Years is the best Mole to date, and is absolutely on form with a fantastic writing voice, interesting plotting, brilliant characters and an opportunity to laugh at Mole’s countless misfortunes.