Sue Townsend is Britain’s favourite comic author. Her hugely successful novels include eight Adrian Mole books, The Public Confessions of a Middle-Aged Woman (Aged 55 3/4 ), Number Ten, Ghost Children, The Queen and I and Queen Camilla, all of which are highly acclaimed bestsellers. She has also written numerous well-received plays. She lives in Leicester, where she was born and grew up. After writing in secret from the age of 14, Townsend first became known for her plays, her signature character first appearing in a radio drama, but her work soon expanded into other forms. She enjoyed great success in the 1980s, with her Adrian Mole books selling more copies than any other work of fiction in Britain during the decade. This series, which eventually encompassed nine books, takes the form of the character’s diaries. The earliest books recount the life of a teenage boy during the Thatcher years, but the sequence eventually depicts Adrian Mole in middle age. The Queen and I (1992), another popular work which was well received, was an outlet for her republican sentiments, although the Royal Family is still rendered with sympathy. Both the earliest Adrian Mole book and The Queen and I were adapted for the stage and enjoyed successful runs in London’s West End.
The story is deeper and darker than comedy. The day her twins leave home, Eva climbs into bed and stays there. For seventeen years she’s wanted to yell at the world, ‘Stop! I want to get off’. Finally, this is her chance. Bestselling author Sue Townsend has been Britain’s favourite comic writer for over three decades; The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year is her hilarious new novel. ‘She fills the pages with turmoil, anger, passion, love and big helpings of wit. It’s full of colour and glows with life’.
Review: With this book I complete 12 reading challenges by TSBC and I thank them for introducing me to new writers/new books which I have never ever heard about. Sue Townsend is one such author whom I first read with the present book. I liked her work, but I don’t know if her other works are on the same lines. It is fit written, easy to read and funny in places. The story is about Eva, a woman whose twin children go away to university and whose husband turns out to have been having an affair for years. Eva goes to bed for a year – withdrawal from all the things she hates about the world. What I liked the most is the author created a woman who spends a year in bed to think. There has been very less insight into what has driven her to her bed. She doesn’t seem particularly bothered about her husband’s affair. As we get towards end, Townsend has the phenomenal challenge of raising Eva from her bed and giving us insight into what sent her there and why it’s now time to get up. There was a passing reference to the sort of tragedy and misfortune that every woman has to deal with at some point in her life. A few good chuckles though. It’s all quite amusing and the style carries you along nicely, but it didn’t seem to me to have much consistency nor much of the bite, insight and shrewd inspection which have made many of Sue Townsend’s books so good. It just rather peters out and although I think Eva’s eventual realisation is of a profound and important truth I couldn’t really see how the realisation stemmed from what had happened. The comedy in this book is patterned through with such unenviable strands of meanness that it is hard to like very much of it, no matter how sharply observed some aspects of the story may be. In addition, some of the author’s attempts at humour seem unusually like the forced the idiocy in her choice of characters’ names, the flow of the story stumbles. Many of the characters are deeply unpleasant. Townsend attempts to shock with careless and frequent mentions in schoolgirl language of the professor’s affair with Titania, who turns up at night to sleep with him in his shed. This book is an easy, infrequently funny read. I didn’t like it much.
I write a lot, which keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. There is always something to write about, always a new story to craft. Not writing, for me, is like trying to hold back a sneeze. Learning to write was the most powerful influence in my life. I can still remember the awe I felt when I realized I could put real words onto paper and tell out a story. From that first ‘a-ha’ moment I knew I wanted to write.
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