Overnight came some very sad news from the world of publishing: Sue Townsend has died.
Townsend is, of course, best known for her character, Adrian Mole, surely one of the greatest characters in modern literature. Mole’s development from an angst-ridden teenager – obsessed with poetry and measuring his “thing” – to a neurotic adult unable to hold down a relationship was a masterpiece of writing and character observation.
There was some biting satire in the books as well. Townsend always manages to capture the zeitgeist of the time – the early books are a perfect 1980s time capsule (“Do you weep, Mrs Thatcher, do you weep?”), while later ones moved on to mock (with pinpoint accuracy) the realities of life under New Labour. There’s plenty of laugh out loud moments too – via Seb’s Tumblr I was reminded of the minute-by-minute account of a school trip to a museum, which I found hilarious.
For my money, Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction is my favourite. It’s funny as hell, like all the books in the series, but the part where Adrian’s son Glenn writes a series of letters home from his posting in Iraq, packs a real emotional punch.
Townsend wrote other books too (The Queen and I is excellent) but it’s Adrian Mole for which she will always be remembered. That’s a fairly good legacy to leave behind, I think.