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Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction
Adrian Mole, now age thirty-four and three quarters, needs proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction so he can get a refund from a travel agency of the deposit he paid on a trip to Cyprus. Naturally, he writes to Tony Blair for some evidence.
He's engaged to Marigold, but obsessed with her voluptuous sister. And he is so deeply in dept to banks and credit card companies that it would take more than twice his monthly salary to ever repay them. He needs a guest speaker for his creative writing group's dinner in Leicestershire and wonders if the Prime Minister's wife is available.
In short, Adrian is back in true form, unable--like so many people we know, but of course, not us--to credit that the world does not revolve around him. But recognizing the universal core of Adrian's dilemmas is what makes them so agonizingly funny.
This fifth installment of Adrian Mole's diary (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4; Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years, etc.) breaks new ground with its concern for current affairs and its sympathetic treatment of not-always-exemplary characters. Adrian, as usual, is struggling with various relationships and with constant financial problems, always trying to do the right thing, but usually giving in to his baser urges, in love and in spending. He becomes accidentally engaged to dollhouse-building homebody Marigold while spending flirtatious evenings with childhood love Pandora; fires off missives to the likes of Tony Blair and Tim Henman; and works, genuinely, to be a good father, friend and ex-husband to a cast of often bizarre but always human characters. Townsend, author of numerous non-Adrian novels, plays and nonfiction, makes Adrian's adult disorientation palpable as he tries to figure out how he went from hosting a popular television show to working in a failing second-hand bookshop, and copes with the shock of seeing childhood bullies make good and childhood dreams go awry. Arguments about the war figure prominently: one of Adrian's sons is sent to Iraq; his best friend, Robert, is there, too. Adrian's reactions to the war are complex, funny and wrenching. By the time the diary breaks off (on Sunday, July 22, 2004), things are looking up for Adrian and a bridesmaid--and he is considering (to her consternation) writing an autobiography. (Dec.)
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October 31, 2006
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