Wednesday 2 May 2012

The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend

There is no doubt that Sue Townsend is one of Britain's finest comic authors, her Adrian Mole series has become a classic and it's incredible to realise that Adrian has been with us for thirty years now.
The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year is Sue Townsend's latest novel and as always, it is written in her trademark style - full of humour and absurd situations, exaggerated situations and a cast of the most diverse and sometimes grotesque characters imaginable.

Eva Beaver is a librarian from Leicester, married to Dr Brian Beaver an astronomer and mother of twins Brianne and Brian Junior.  The twins are exceptionally gifted in Maths and have just left home to start University in Leeds.  As the twins leave the house, Eva takes to her bed and stays there.  Her husband is appalled - who will cook his food, iron his clothes, creosote the fence?   Her mother Ruby and her mother-in-law Yvonne are disgusted, and ashamed and perplexed.  Has Eva gone mad?

Eva is not mad, she is fed-up with being the person who keeps everyone else's life ticking along nicely - now it is time for her to indulge herself and to stop being the person that everyone expects her to be.

It doesn't matter in the least that the story is pretty preposterous, because this is so incredibly well written.  There is a whole host of characters who are so well formed that they really do appear to be alive, the ghastly Dr Brian and his ridiculous young girlfriend.  Poppy, the liar and fantasist, who wrecks lives without a glimmer of guilt; Alexander, the dreadlocked hero; Brianne and Young Brian, the almost autistic, self-centred twins; and of course the wonderful Ruby who steals the show.

There is an underlying darkness about this story, it's funny but at times, oh so sad.  My only criticism would be that maybe it is a teeny bit too long, and maybe there are a couple of sideline characters that were not really necessary.  On the whole though, I thought this was a wonderful read, it made me laugh out loud so many times.

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