Sue Townsend The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13

Sue Townsend: The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾

First published in the UK in 1982 by Methuen

Reprinted in Arrow Books, 1998

Thursday, January 1st

These are my New Year's resolutions:

            1. I will help the blind across the road.

            2. I will hang my trousers up.

            3. I will put the sleeves back on my records.

            4. I will not start smoking.

            5. I will stop squeezing my spots.

            6. I will be kind to the dog.

            7. I will help the poor and ignorant. [Adrian believes that he's an intellectual]

            8. After hearing the disgusting noises from downstairs last night, I've also vowed never   to drink alcohol.

  My father got the dog drunk on cherry brandy at the party last night. If the RSPCA hear about it he could get done. Eight days have gone since Christmas Day but  my mother still hasn't worn the green lurex apron I bought her for Christmas! She will get bath cubes next   year.

     Just my luck, I've got a spot on my chin for the first day of the New Year!

     At first I want to say, that this is not a 'common' book with a clear plot because of it's diary format. Adrian's diary goes on for a year and a quarter (until his 15th birthday).

     Well, the book is fulfilled with sarcastic humor and I enjoyed reading it a lot. Adrian Mole, the main character of the book, is about 14 years old. I really enjoyed reading about his life, the meaning of poetry to him, school, family, spots (that ruined his chin) and especially about the funny ways Adrian solves his problems. I liked the way he expresses his thoughts and feelings very much: direct and uncomplicated. Adrian lives with his mum, his dad and his dog in a house in England near London. His life is - I don't know how I could express it in another way - a chaos: His parents split up, his girlfriend's parents are communists (she tries to be a feminist) and his best friend is an aged man, Bert Baxter.

     The main story is about young Adrian Mole, his experiences, adventures and the big love to Pandora, who becomes his girlfriend.


     Adrian Mole believes that he is an intellectual, quasi an undiscovered poet. When he saw Malcolm Muggeridge on the television one night, he understood nearly every word! From that moment on, he knew that he was an intellectual. Adrian decides to write Malcolm Muggeridge, c/o the BBC, to ask him what to do. He starts writing poems about life, love and nature and sends them all to the BBC, and one day he gets a letter back from John Tydeman, BBC. Adrian is very proud, although they suggest him to offer his poems to the School Magazine because they have not the quality to be(get??) included into any current poetry programs.

     One day Adrian falls in love with Pandora, but the next day he finds out that Pandora is going out with another guy, Nigel, his best friend. On March 27th they split up and Adrian is full of hope again.

     Adrian joins a group called the Good Samaritans. As a social-observer, he has been put in the old age pensioners´ group. He got an old man called Bert Baxter. Bert is eighty-nine, so Adrian supposes that he won't have him for long.

     On January 21st, Mr. and Mrs. Lucas, the neighbors of the Moles, split up. Adrian's mother decides "to comfort" poor Mr. Lucas from now on. With his naive eyes, Adrian doesn't recognize that there is something going on between them. His only statement is: 'Poor Mr. Lucas, now he will have to do his own washing and stuff.' He reports everything that is going on around him through his own naive view. Adrian's mother is trying to find a new job. After a few days of searching she finds a job in an insurance office. Mr. Lucas works there too and he is going to give her a lift every day. Ms. Mole hasn't done any housework for days now. All she does is going to work and comforting Mr. Lucas. One week later she starts making a list dividing all the household into three. Adrian is totally confused and still thinks, his mother is only very kind to Mr. Lucas, but after a few weeks, his parents split up and Adrian's mum decides to move with Mr. Lucas to Sheffield.

     From now on, 'creep' Lucas becomes a real enemy of Adrian, he knows now that it's his fault that his parents have seeked a divorce.

     Adrian is forced now to visit Bert Baxter more frequently a week. He tries to find a friend in Bert and narrates him about school, his family and his problems. Bert tells him that he was a hoster when he was young, so Adrian offers to take him to see a horse again. They walk to see Blossom, the horse of Pandora. It takes them ages to go there because Bert walks dead slow and  keeps having to sit down on garden walls every 5 minutes. But after a long walk they get there and Bert is very happy.

     On Valentine's Day Adrian only gets one card from his mum so it doesn't count. His love, Pandora, gets seventeen and even Barry Kent, whom everybody hates, gets three.

     On April 7th, Adrian states that his love Pandora is going out with Craig Thomas.

     Two weeks later his father visits the bank in order to get money, but the cashier tells him, that he hasn't got any money left.

     The next day, Adrian visits his mum and Mr. Lucas in Sheffield. When Adrian asks his father, if he can go there, he says: "Yes, providing your mother sends the train fare".

Adrian arrives without complications and on the first day they go shopping. Lucas tries his best to make Adrian like him. But 'hard luck. Us Moles never forget. We are just like the Mafia, once you cross us we bear a grudge all our lives.' ( April 24th, p.69)

On April 25th, Adrian has a dream about 'stabbing Lucas with the toothpick on my penknife. Best dream I've had for ages.' (April 25th, p.70)

     Home again his father runs totally out of money: There is only slimming bread left and the freezer is empty. One Saturday afternoon in May Adrian's mother turns up with creep Lucas to discuss who's not getting custody of Adrian. The arguing goes on for ages. 'In fact until it was time to light the candles. [Electricity is turned off because they weren't able to pay] Lucas split candle-wax over his new suede shoes. It was the only cheerful incident in a tragic day.' (May 11th, p.76)

     One day Adrian dares to wear red socks to school instead of black one. He gets told off by the headmaster and he even gets a lecture on the dangers of being a nonconformist. Pandora decides to start a Red Sock Revolution with Adrian and his friends, and suddenly everyone is wearing red socks to school. Adrian and Pandora start to see each other more often. The RSR was put down after a few days, but it brought them together.

     On June 10th, it is official. Pandora and Adrian are in love. 'She told Neilson, who told Nigel, who told me. I told Nigel to tell Neilson to tell Pandora that I return her love.' (June 10th, p.88)

     On July 18th, Pandora goes abroad. Adrian buys her a book called 'Crash - What to do if the worst happens'. She reads it on the way to the airport. When the flight was called out she went into hysterics and her father had to carry her up the steps.

     On a school trip to London, the whole class is very naughty. By the end of the trip, a teacher has resigned, the bus driver had gone mad and got arrested as well as a museum they visited decided to accept no more groups of students. As a result, the headmaster decided to cancel all future school trips.

     Pandora and Adrian start writing a school-magazine called 'The Voice of Youth'. They make 500 copies of the first magazine. 'Five hundred copies of 'The Voice of Youth' were on sale in the dinner hall today. Five hundred copies were locked in the games cupboard by the end of the day. Not one copy was sold! Not one!' (November 27th, p.148)

     On November 29th Adrian's mother turns up with no warning. She has all her suitcases with her and wants to come back home. She tells them that she has left creep Lucas because he treated her like a sex object and expected his evening meal cooked as well as he cut his toe-nails on the table in the living room.


Adrian Mole:

     Adrian is the author of this book (it is his diary) and therefore the main character. If you read the book, you'll fast get his identity: He is open-minded, studious, very self-confident and he surely has a sense of humor. Adrian is that kind of person - I think so - everyone would like to be if there wasn't this chaos in his life: his parents split up, his best friend is a senile man, his girlfriend Pandora wants to be a feminist as well as a communist. In addition, Adrian believes that he has the talent to become a poet, although the BBC refused to print his poems. But there is no question about it - He is an intellectual:

     Adrian recognizes that it is no surprise, that intellectuals like him commit suicide, go mad or die from drink. 'We feel things more than other people. We know the world is rotten and that chins are ruined by spots.' (October 2nd, p.129)

     Adrian is very proud to be English ("Foreigners must be as sick as pigs!" [p.104]) and he is sure that England would be able to rule the world if it would come to pageantry.

     His teachers say that he is "a credit for the school", that's why it is his job to wait by the gap in the railings and to take the name of anyone who comes to late into school.

His father:

     Adrian's father is unemployed and a victim of society. Life is hard for him and he struggles to get enough to eat for his family:

"There is nothing left in the freezer, nothing in the pantry and only slimming bread in the bread pin."

     On October 21st, it is Parents´ Evening. Adrian is very happy that his father got cleaned up and put his best suit on (That is very important to him).

     'He looked OK, Thank God! Nobody could tell he was unemployed. My teachers all told him that I was a credit to the school.

     Barry Kent's father was looking as sick as a pig. Ha! Ha! Ha!' (page 136)

His mother:

     She has an affaire with Mr. Lucas, but after a few weeks the split up. She tells her family that she has left creep Lucas because he treated her like a sex object and expected his evening meal cooked as well as he cut his toe-nails on the table in the living room.

     She stopped smoking and one day before Mother's Day she had all her hairs cut off.

"She looks like one of Auntie Susie's inmates. . I don't know whether to get her anything for Mother's Day or not. .

[one day later] Didn't get my mother anything so she has been in a bad mood all morning." (p. 183)

Personal Comment:

     In fact, I can say that I liked this book very much. It gives you a funny view with many amusing details on a young person's everyday life and you can look at his small world through his own, childlike perspective. Well, the secret diary of Adrian Mole sometimes really made me laugh (Adrian's father married his mother because she looked good in a mini-skirt!).

     This book is so funny and really entertaining to read that it is hard to imagine anyone could not like. Another plus is that there aren't long chapters, so you can put it down and pick it up every moment you've time because of the diary-format.

     Although it makes you laugh, maybe even laugh out loud, it also touches universal themes like growing up and everyday-problems a 13 year-old person has. In addition, there is also a little social commentary about society, parents and friends. It's a little bit hard to find the real massage in it because the diary is quite mixed up and there is no real thread, which leads through the book, though.

     I really could imagine that teenagers everywhere can relate to Adrian Mole in some way. This doesn't mean, only teenagers would be interested in this book: I think I can really recommend it to every sex of any age. I think everyone of us, especially all growing-ups can connect to him and his thoughts and feelings. Maybe you'll remember that you've been doing similar stuff like Arian in your childhood.

     A very pleasant book to read and, probably the most impotent thing at all: really great fun.

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