Laugh-out-loud one-liners ensure that even the uninitiated will enjoy Adrian Mole’s journey through Townsend’s cruel, comic...

ADRIAN MOLE AND THE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION

Loveable loser Adrian Mole turns 35 in the latest installment in the British series.

Townsend began tracking Adrian’s wholly mediocre life in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ (1982). Set between 2002 and 2004, this, like the others, takes the form of diary entries. Here a slightly more responsible Adrian emerges. Despite a few setbacks—his cooking show, Offally Good!, has been cancelled, and youngest son William has gone to live with his mum in Nigeria—he’s finally moved out of his parents’ house. Adrian has bought a posh loft at Rat Wharf and some dangerously white furniture to go with it. He is doing well as an assistant to an antiquarian bookseller and may even have found a remedy for the unrequited love of his life, Pandora Braithwaite, in the form of Miss Marigold Flowers. But happy times have short tenancy—in fact, just a few days. Adrian’s initial attraction to Marigold’s fragility disappears when he’s nearly bored to death during a long tour of her doll houses. But no matter: Marigold tells everyone they’re engaged and Adrian seems helpless to contradict her. Likewise, life at Rat Wharf turns out to be less than ideal when the picturesque canal swans begin menacing Adrian, and his upstairs neighbor complains at the noise made when Adrian boils water. Finally, Adrian’s credit-card debt is mounting, thanks in part to his “resourcefulness” in taking cash advances on newly offered cards to pay the minimum on others. Things get worse: Marigold says she is pregnant and sets a wedding date, Adrian begins a torrid affair with her sister Daisy and his son Glenn is stationed in Iraq. With her usual dark wit, Townsend skewers the Blair government’s search for WMDs, the pervasive hell of modern debt and the everyman’s inability to master love.

Laugh-out-loud one-liners ensure that even the uninitiated will enjoy Adrian Mole’s journey through Townsend’s cruel, comic world.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-56947-406-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2005

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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