From its title on, Sue Townsend's short, utterly entertaining novel is full of jokes both sly and slapstick. The Coventry of the title is one Coventry Dakin, the novel's narrator, and a devoted, intelligent, but intensely bored wife and mother maintaining her dull husband and two nearly-grown children in suburban Midlands. Coventry also just killed her neighbor, a jerk named Gerald Fox who's been spreading nasty (and false) rumors about her. Now she's on the lam, and Townsend, author of the well-loved Adrian Mole series of books, takes us down and out on a comic excursion into London, where Coventry, now a penniless fugitive, seeks protection with both the lowest and highest levels of British society.
From Publishers Weekly
Townsend's first work since the British bestseller The Adrian Mole Diaries again displays her gift for comedy, but the novel suffers from a disconcerting lack of cohesion. Coventry Dakin is an ordinary but self-proclaimed "beautiful" housewife who lives in a council estate in northern England. While attempting to break up a domestic quarrel, she accidentally kills her bullying neighbor with an action-man doll, and flees sans handbag to London. There she sells her body for two quid, briefly takes up residence with eccentric aristocrats, and finally finds refuge in a cardboard box outside Waterloo Station, where she discovers that her boxmate, Dodo, is in fact an upper-crust heiress with ties to Parliament. Meanwhile, her dull husband Derek is bereft; her son John discovers the diary in which Coventry reveals her secret fantasy life as artist Lauren McSkye (for whom her drawing teacher has a desperate and unrequited love); and curmudgeonly detective Sly is out to capture Coventry. The novel veers between the silly and sanctimonious, and while some passages are sheer fun, the majority of the book is problematic, with unconvincing shifts between first- and third-person narration, dubious plotting and indiscernible moral intentions. Many references are resolutely English, and destined to remain obscure to even the most Anglophiliac American.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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