Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Adrian Mole – The Cappuccino Years: Sue Townsen, June 11—15, 2015
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
Adrian’s latest adventure is set in 1997-1998; the longest gap between instalments but coming at an ideal time to read Mr. Mole’s diary. Not only is he now at the landmark age of 30, but this is the year of the New Labour landslide and the death of Princess Diana, among others.
As “together” as Adrian’s life seemed to be after the Wilderness Years, we join him now not. He’s divorced, living alone, a semi-absent father working as a ‘head chef’ in a nightmare kitchen. His own father is depressed, his mother’s knocking off Pandora’s and his sister is now a teenage tear away. All in all, it’s thoroughly entertaining.
Adrian is told old now to carry the air of an idealistic teenager who misunderstands adults, but r. he’s now a socially illiterate, pretentious (wannabe?) snob. Townsend has managed to retain the same voice for Mole throughout his adolescence and into adulthood, keeping the continuity of character that is so important to a diary-based, character-centric series.
The major events of the year are nicely integrated into the storyline, with Pandora becoming one of Blair’s babes and Diana’s death having an unlikely impact on Mole’s writing career. Though Mole did pass comment on Michael Hutchence’s death a day early.
The schadenfreude of Mole’s perpetually misfortune is in no way reduced, with the constant battering of his life by belief-suspending misery. As always, it’s almost too bizarre to be believable, which sort of makes it true to life, but more importantly it’s the relentless onslaught of disaster that provides much of the humour.
The Mole and Braithwaite families play central roles, and George and Pauline are much more rounded. Perhaps it’s Mole’s age and own fatherhood that adjusts his portrayal of them, but they and the book benefit greatly from seeing the couple fleshed out.
As ever, self-contained and part of the larger Mole arc at once, The a Cappuccino Years is a fabulous entry in the series.