The Adrian Mole diaries are a series of books by Sue Townsend. Adrian Mole starts out as a teenager whose complete cluelessness is hilarious in the early diaries; the later books are less funny because one really hopes he would have learned something by ten years later. But they're still worth a read.

Currently, the Adrian Mole series (that I know of):

  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, age 13 3/4: set in the early 1980s
  • The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (ends shortly after he turns 16; these first two are available as one volume called The Adrian Mole Diaries)
  • The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole: a 35-page selection of late-teen diaries, letters and poems.
  • Adrian Mole: From Minor to Major: complete text of the first two books and at least part, possibly all, of "True Confessions" as well, plus some other late-teen diaries.
  • Adrian Mole: The Lost Years: contains some (maybe all) of the new parts of "True Confessions" and "Minor to Major" as well as the complete text of the next book.
  • Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years: Adrian is in his early 20s
  • Adrian Mole: The Cappuchino Years Adrian is thirtyish and a single father.
  • Adrian Mole And The Weapons Of Mass Destruction, spiregrain was kind enough to tell me in November 2004, "is out now and sounds brilliant. Our hero cancels his 2002 holiday to Cyprus because uk.gov tells him Iraq has WMD that can reach it in 45mins. But the travel agent won't give him his money back unless he can prove the gov's claim." I shall definitely be tracking that one down.

Sue Townsend's first two Adrian Mole books are classics as a portrait of a teenager. The later books are rather disappointing in comparison as Adrian himself matures little, though his problems become more adult, but the first two are 'must read's. They are both hilarious and oddly touching.

Adrian Mole is the very much the product of his time and upbringing. He starts out as an angst-ridden almost-fourteen-year-old, trying to deal with puberty and the agony of spots, a family that is slowly disintegrating around him, and an obsession with the "treacle-haired" Pandora Braithwaite.

Adrian's father is either unemployed or working on government schemes or his own projects, and his male pride suffers. He is irritable and longs for things to be the way they were. His mother is discovering feminism, and wouldn't go back to the old ways if you paid her. Adrian isn't the son that either of them wanted, he's too sissy for his father, and not romantic enough for his mother. They're both sure things would have turned out differently if they'd called him Brett. His paternal grandmother is the only stable traditional influence around him, though she is very judgemental of the whole family.

Over the course of the first two books, both parents have affairs. Mrs Mole runs away with a neighbour, and Mr Mole brings his girlfriend Doreen, who Adrian calls 'The Stick Insect', into the house and presents Adrian with a half-brother (who he does call Brett). Eventually Doreen moves out, the Moles get back together and have another child, Rosie.

At school, Adrian falls for Pandora, who is beautiful and intelligent, and whose parents are the local communists. The two have a very on-off relationship throughout the books. His best friend Nigel decides he is gay, and Adrian's life is made a misery by Baz Kent, the class thug, until Adrian becomes the brain of Baz's gang. Oh and there is Sharon Bott too, fat, unattractive, but much more available than Pandora.

And outside school, Adrian strikes up a friendship with Bert, an obnoxious old man with a vicious dog, a worse temper, and a dislike for the authorities

All this is presented through Adrian's eyes, and Adrian, of course, is no ordinary boy. He has an ongoing correspondence with a presenter on Radio Four (the BBC's cultural channel). He's sensitive, an artist, a poet, an intellectual, at least in his own perception. The poetry is very bad, the brain power behind it no more than average, but a thread of yearning to be different and special runs through all the books.

Adrian, frankly, is a bit of a pratt, but he's easy to empathise with and your sympathies are always with him, even as you laugh at his posturing and predicaments.

Wonderful books. Read them.

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