A misunderstood intellectual - welcome to the world of Adrian Mole

First published in Book reviews

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend (Penguin) Thirty years after they were first released the 'Secret Diaries' books by Sue Townsned, jusr re-issued by Penguin, still raise a smile and the occasional laugh out loud.

Young Adrian, aged 13 and three quarters, has many problems, which he reveals bluntly and honestly in his diary. His parents' marriage is falling apart, he has spots, he's been bullied at school and he's in love.

Worse still, no-one seems to understand him.

He sees himself as an intellectual and can't understand why the BBC won't broadcast some of his juvenile poems.

What's really clever here is how Townsend reveals Adrian's character and the nature of the adults around him through his often naive diary entries.

Adrian does not always see the nuances of what his mum and dad tell him and will repeat their remarks in full. He doesn't understand the sacrasm and occasional disappointment behind what they say but, as adults, we can see the deeper meanings.

It's very funny but often quite poignant.

There are some great minor characters too - Bert Baxter, the down-to-earth pensiioner who Adrian has to see regularly as part of a volunteering progreamme from school is a delightful creation, curmdgeonly at first but gradually warming to Adrian's inherent good-nature and kindess.

A forerunner of books like the Bridget Jones' diary series, this is a very funny and enjoyable book. Some of the historical references - the Royal Wwedding of Carles and Diana and the invasion of the Flaklands - are dated but the concerns of a young teenager have not changed.

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