Home entertainment

‘Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years’ by Sue Townsend

(Penguin, $37)

Adrian oole, the bespectacled British teen who captured our hearts with his intimate diaries in the early ’80s, has returned to delight fans once again. First brought to life by author Sue Townsend in ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian oole, Aged 133/4’, he endeared himself to readers with the trials and tribulations of his journey through adolescence.

A sensitive fellow growing up in suburban England, Adrian was plagued by worries over his physical development, his dysfunctional family and his love for the beautiful Pandora Braithwaite.

So vivid and enduring is Adrian as a character that Sue has continued to chronicle his life over the intervening decades, through failed relationships, dashed dreams and the humdrum dramas of daily life. Not that the books are depressing – Adrian himself is brilliantly funny, even if he doesn’t always realise it, and the novels perfectly capture the laugh-or-you’ll- cry nature of everyday existence.

In this latest book, our hero is about to hit 40 and is living next door to his parents, struggling to keep his marriage afloat and being continually baffled by his five-year-old daughter. He’s content to cycle to his job at the local bookshop each day but still harbours greater ambitions to be a playwright. Life isn’t perfect but it could be worse.

Then, suddenly, it is, when Adrian is diagnosed with prostate cancer. As well as coping with the debilitating and invasive treatment, Adrian faces other challenges presented by his family and friends. His high-flying half-brother Brett is an early casualty of the global financial crisis, his mother is hell-bent on airing the family’s dirty laundry on a daytime talk show and his adult son Glenn is dodging death on duty in Afghanistan.

But even with these bleak concerns, this book is a quiet celebration of life. For those who have loved Adrian since he was fretting about his teenage acne and hoping to win Pandora’s heart, this latest chapter in his life won’t disappoint.

Related stories