I don’t think there’s a Christmas I can think of where my mother hasn’t bought me at least one book. Some years there are several. They are carefully purchased throughout the year and kept in a cupboard or the back of a wardrobe until I visit during the festive season.
Occasionally, I get one a few months later with a comment such as “Oh, here’s the book I meant to give you at Christmas, but I’d forgotten where I put it, so here it is!” This was one such book, carefully wrapped and handed over in February!
I raised my eyebrows when I saw the author’s name.
“Is this the same Sue Townsend who wrote Adrian Mole all those years ago?”
“Yes, I think so,” my mum replied.
I was intrigued but in the middle of two books at the time already. Adding a third to the mix didn’t seem like the sensible thing to do. Instead, I put it to one side until such time as I was ready. I managed to finish it just the other day.
In the main, this is a funny book. Eva is fifty and has just sent her naive but extremely clever twins off to university, where they meet the infuriating Poppy who has huge social and emotional issues of her own.
This life-changing event is what tips Eva over the edge and she decides to go to bed, fully clothed for a little while to think. The ‘little while’ turns into days, weeks and months and, during this time, we learn a great deal about life in Eva’s household (and indeed her life in general) which she has faithfully tried to maintain to the best of her ability since her marriage.
Her assessment of the world from between her sheets as she slowly descends into mental illness is comically portrayed by the author and it’s not until the last couple of pages that you realise how ill she has become.
I was disappointed in the ending of this novel which is a shame as the rest of the book was engaging and funny with rich characters. I really wanted there to be a happy ending but it never comes. It felt as though there should have been more, as if the novel was somehow unfinished.
An entertaining read, all the same. Especially if you’re a Sue Townsend fan.