Friday, November 8, 2013

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

Hardback: 437 pages
GenreHumorous fiction
Publisher: Michael Joseph 2012
Source: Tywyn Public Library
Extract from first pages: She picked up the saucepan, walked from the kitchen into the sitting room and threw the soup all over the precious chair. She then went upstairs, into her bedroom and without removing her clothes or her shoes, got into bed and stayed there for a year.
Favourite Quote: “To unlock the heavy outer door and to walk into the hushed interior, with the morning light spilling from the high windows on to the waiting books, gave her such pleasure that she would have worked for nothing.” 
Review Quote:  'Laugh-out-loud . . . a teeming world of characters whose foibles and misunderstandings provide glorious amusement. Something deeper and darker than comedy' Sunday Times
My Opinion: Satirical read

 Sue Townsend's name  will always be synonymous with the Adrian Mole stories, they are what have most helped make her Britain's favourite comic author today.  Her other books I have enjoyed but there has never been another character as memorable as Adrian Mole.

There is no doubt that The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year is very well written, a satirical read,  funny and sad there is something terribly dark about this latest novel from Sue Townsend. When I first picked it up and read the blurb I thought it had possibilities for a very amusing, entertaining read. At first it was as the protagonist Eva Beaver, a librarian, (yes I know!)decides that she just cannot tolerate her life any more. Before long though I was beginning to find that that this woman and her selfish attitudes just grated on my nerves, spoiling the humour for me. Maybe this is what the author intended but one cannot be sure, certainly the picture she paints of the rest of the family makes you sympathetic of Eva's feelings. Just do not think she did herself any favours in the way she responded to her annoying family, surely languishing in bed was just not the answer.

As you can probably tell there was nothing compelling for me about this novel, but I plodded through and if you are a fan of Sue Townsend's writing then you should definitely add this to your reading list. However if you have never read any of her novels I personally do not think this is a good one to start with.

Author Profile

Susan Lillian Townsend was born April 2nd 1946 in Leicester, where she spent her childhood free time playing in local fields and woods. She only learned to read at the age of eight when, off school with mumps, she was given by her mother a pile of Just William books and taught to read in just three weeks. From that moment she became obsessed with reading. Later, she started to write for the school magazine.

Sue left school at fifteen with no qualifications and found employment in a string of unfulfilling jobs, from petrol-pump attendant to shop assistant. She kept writing, but did so in secret. At eighteen she married and a year later her first child was born. With two more children in her family and a subsequent divorce, she at last found a job she enjoyed – at the youth club on the estate she lives in.

In 1978 Sue met Colin Broadway and after she admitted to him that she had been writing secretly for years he encouraged her to join a writer’s group at Leicester’s Phoenix Arts Centre. After the third meeting, where Sue had shown nothing nor said anything, she was told to share some work with the group next week. Two weeks later she presented Womberang , a play set in a gynaecological waiting room. The play was put on and in 1979 won a Thames Television Playwright Award, including a bursary as Writer in Residence.

Having, almost by accident, embarked on a professional writing career, Sue went on to write numerous successful plays, including Bazaar and Rummage (1982) and The Great Celestial Cow (1984), both of which were performed at London’s Royal Court Theatre.
But it was the Adrian Mole diaries, which Sue had started in 1975, writing the first two and a half months in one sitting, that brought her lasting fame. These first appeared as a half-hour piece on Radio Four in 1982 as The Diary of Nigel Mole. Later that year, the publishers Methuen brought out The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾ (1982) and later its sequel, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole(1984). Together these books made Sue the best selling author of the 1980's. There have been six further books in the Adrian Mole series , which have sold over eight million copies and have been adapted for radio, television and theatre.
In 1991 she was awarded an Honorary MA by the University of Leicester and subsequently has placed her papers in their Special Collections archives. Sue has continued to write other books, many of which have also gone on to be best sellers, including The Queen and I (1992) and Number 10 (2002). Her latest novel is The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, published in 2012 by Michael Joseph.
She has suffered from diabetes for many years, as a result of which she was registered blind in 2001, and has woven this theme into her work.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.
Amazon Author Page - Sue Townsend    Goodreads Author Profile   Authors Official Website

Linking up today with Literary Friday


  1. I have never heard of this author before. I think you captured the essence of this book very well. I have a blogger friend from Leicester named Rosalind Adam. She is also an author, so maybe they know each other.

    1. You must ask your friend, I am sure she will have heard of her as she is very well known in the UK.

  2. Diabetes is such an insidious disease. UGH! This is the first I've heard of her, and I'm intrigued with her earlier work (based on this review). II have two more book club books to read this weekend, and then I'm starting The Cornish House! :D

    Thanks for linking-up. I appreciate your support of Literary Friday!

    Have a wonderful weekend!


    1. It is interesting to me that neither you or the previous commenter had heard of Sue Townsend, she is well known in the UK. Mind you I often find the same with authors you review, popularity in the USA and UK is not a foregone conclusion. I hope you enjoy your weekend at the lake and get lots of reading done.

  3. Hi Linda,

    I must be one of the very few people in the UK who have never read ANY of the 'Adrian Mole' series, although of course both books and author are known to me.

    The sole reason for my intended reading omission of Sue's books, is that I don't like humorous fiction of any kind. Satire is something completely different and I have also dabbled in the genre of the 'Mystery Caper', but that's about as far as I want to go!

    Don't get me wrong, I am not averse to comedy, in fact I enjoy nothing than a good comedy show, or stand up comedy act, however I simply can't stomach the thought of reading something humorous!

    I am so pleased that you gave this one an honest review, although the possibility of me ever reading it anyway, is almost non-existent.

    From a thoroughly wet, cold and dreary Somerset, I hope that you are having a good weekend,


    1. Yvonne, I quite understand your omission, comedy is not an easy genre to read or write. As I do not like farce I just found that this particular novel was not a pleasure to read.

  4. Hi Linda , I have had this on my list , not sure I am going to bother , I am with Yvonne , I have never read ANY of the Adrian Mole series ,not my sort of book either. Thanks for your review, I do read them to get some ideas which book to get. :-) x

    1. Anne, reading should be a pleasure, so if this is not a genre you enjoy then I think you are right. I am so thrilled that you find my reviews a guide when choosing what you do want to read. :)

  5. I bought this book and it's sitting on my to read pile but I must admit that I'm not sure I'll read it very soon. Thanks for your honest thoughts on it.

    1. I try to be honest without putting people off as we all have different tastes, thankfully.

  6. I'm so glad I read your review before I picked up the book, Linda. :-) I spotted this book last week and thought it looked so fun and entertaining. Too bad it isn't.

    1. Do not let my thoughts put you off Krista, as if you are a fan of farce and or Sue Townsend's writing you may well enjoy this one!


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