I’m always sad to reach the end of the Adrian Mole series. This book was not intended to be the final diary, as the author was reportedly working on another before she passed away. I re-read the series every few years and am apprehensive once I reach the last book, as it has some quite upsetting content; Sue Townsend had serious health issues and wanted to incorporate her experience in the book, which is preoccupied with illness, disability and the NHS. In the chronology, it follows The Weapons of Mass Destruction but was published after The Lost Diaries.
The book is set in 2007-8, referencing events such as Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister, the collapse of the Northern Rock bank and the ban on indoor smoking in public places. Social trends are also evident, such as the continuing obsession with reality TV, the rise of ebooks and people talking about ‘chavs’. The story sees Adrian’s marriage in crisis, his own and his sister’s paternity in doubt, the bookshop he works in on the brink of closure, his latest literary project foundering, his health taking a nosedive and many other crises. And he’s still in love with Pandora…
If you’ve read all of the previous books and you really care about the characters, this is a must-read. Don’t expect much hilarity; it’s a rather gloomy book, although sharply observed as always.
First published in 2009, this edition in 2012 as part of Penguin’s ’30 years of Adrian Mole’ reissues.