NUMBER 10 by Sue Townsend
Kirkus Star


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The Prime Minister is out of touch with modern life, and the hyenas of the British press are having a field day with his numerous gaffes.

Edward Clare doesn’t even know the price of a pint of milk, and that’s the least of it. Time he got out in the real world, eh? And so he does, disguised in his wife’s clothes, accompanied by the doughty policeman named Jack Sprat, who usually keeps watch at the door of Number 10 Downing Street and now must guard the bewigged, bespangled, and happily effeminate PM. His wife Adele, an eccentric genius on maintenance lithium, doesn’t even notice that he’s gone. She has Very Important Things to worry about: for one, whether or not to arrange for the burial of the amputated leg that her housekeeper’s son mangled in a motorcycle accident. And if this chunk of flesh is entitled to a funeral, what about warts? How many would it take to fill an average coffin? Alerted by delighted reporters, a Third World mathematician kindly provides the answer before Adele loses her mind entirely. Back to Edward: en route to Edinburgh on a very late and overcrowded train, he/she gets to mingle with real people at last—everyone from a bitchy female entrepreneur glued to a cell phone and trying to sell chicken eyeballs to the Middle East, to struggling inhabitants of council housing, out-of-luck but scrappy blokes with names like Coughing Tony and Polio John. Their zigzagging odyssey proceeds at breakneck pace and eventually brings all full circle back to London—but not before Jack has fallen in love with Edward’s sister Pamela and rescued his mother and her molting budgie from a crack dealer with apocalyptic dreams of glory.

Townsend (Adrian Mole, 2000, etc.) has a rare gift for wickedly funny one-liners—and her lighthearted affection for human foibles and foolishness keeps this spot-on satire from becoming too brittle.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-56947-349-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2003


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