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Public Confessions of a Middle-aged Woman Paperback – International Edition, April 29, 2003
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'Full of... hilarious asides on the absurdities of domestic existence...what a fantastic advertisement for middle-age - it can't be bad if it's this funny' Heat
About the Author
Sue Townsend was born in Leicester in 1946. Despite not learning to read until the age of eight, leaving school at fifteen with no qualifications and having three children by the time she was in her mid-twenties, she always found time to read widely. She also wrote secretly for twenty years. After joining a writers' group at The Phoenix Theatre, Leicester, she won a Thames Television award for her first play, Womberang, and became a professional playwright and novelist. After the publication of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 133/4, Sue continued to make the nation laugh and prick its conscience. She wrote seven further volumes of Adrian's diaries and five other popular novels - including The Queen and I, Number Ten and The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year - and numerous well received plays. Sue passed away in 2014 at the age of sixty-eight. She remains widely regarded as Britain's favourite comic writer.
Top customer reviews
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This book is a collection of Sue’s articles from her monthly column for Sainsbury’s Magazine. At first, I was a bit disappointed by these articles since they seemed a bit short and lacking in substance. But soon I was totally addicted as with her other books.
As a child, I read in one of my father’s Somerset Maugham books that the easiest way to be funny was to tell the truth. And this is what Sue does – she tells the truth about the various ups and downs of her life, including her serious health problems.
Sue is able to write about anything, as is indicated in the last lines of her articles when she needs to create a specific number of extra words to give the article the exact length required by her editor.
The first article in the collection that riveted me was “Janet and John”, where she satirizes the idealized and simplistic family life depicted in these, our first reading books.
“They got on remarkably well, unlike most brothers and sisters I know, --- They spent a lot of time shouting, ‘Look, Spot, look! Look at the ball! Fetch the ball!’”
When Daddy came home from work, he sat in his armchair and read the newspaper. Mummy smiled serenely as she prepared tea. She then came to the kitchen door and shouted, ‘Come here, Janet! Come here, John!’
Sue hints at an “alternative” Janet and John book she has come across, called “Janet and John go into care”.
“Daddy is getting ready for work. ‘Where are my gloves, Mummy?’ he asks. ‘Look, Daddy, look, there are your gloves’, snaps Mummy, ‘though why you would want to wear gloves in August defeats me!’
Spot runs in and knocks Daddy’s briefcase over. A copy of Health and Efficiency slithers out and falls open at a picture of nudists playing tennis. John runs in, ‘Look, Janet, look!’ Daddy hits John on the head with his pipe, kicks Spot and leaves for work. Mummy dries her tears and walks to the village shop. She is still upset by the row with Daddy, and slips a tin of corned beef into her wicker basket.
Mummy is arrested for shoplifting ---. John looks up and sees Mummy in the back of a police car.”
And so on.
Another column discusses the advantages of being king (were Charles to become king, for instance).
“having twenty-four hour room service (every day) --- They don’t lie awake at night worrying about class, agonizing, ‘Am I upper-lower-middle?’ or ‘Am I lower-working scum?’ Kings can confidently assert, ‘I am upper, upper, upper’ and know that no British person will contradict them.”
To sum up, this is a brilliant, relaxing read. It is addictive and unputdownable, one of Sue’s best.
I have a great admiration for Sue Townsend who gifted us with all those hilarious books in the midst of her own grave health problems and growing blindness. She gives us an accurate representation of British life in these last decades as well as making us split our sides laughing.
And yet, although the pieces are not connected to each other, after a few chapters you feel as if you are reading (or talking to) a familiar person whose life, or rather his life philosophy you are beginning to share and enjoy.
Off course Susan Townsend has chosen what she would like to share with the reader and what to leave out. In fact she swears never to join these columnists who write about their "damned cats" (or family members), etc. only to break this rule time and again, to reader's full enjoyment. Ms. Townsend writes about her writing problems, travels, people she meets, domestic issues and writing problems again... Still, what she writes is close to heart as she always writes about her failures, fashion mistakes, health problems (is there anyone who cannot identify with back pain?), dreams of a better house.... Townsend is always intelligent, and you find yourself laughing out loud. The issues are varied, from a disturbing piece about the behavior of a British tourist during a Greek funeral to having no ideas for this month's column.
I think I liked this book because it was so down to earth, with a very un-assuming approach to living and to yourself.
The other thing I really enjoyed was her use of English slang words. She uses words like "larf", "gormless", and "groanies". It was lots of fun to figure out what the words meant. Fun read!
First written as a monthly column for Sainsbury's Magazine, these pieces are slice-of-life affairs. Sue's battles with her expanding waistline, her diminishing eyesight and the ticking clock are covered here in touching and very funny detail. I found this book impossible to put down, yet it would be relatively easy to dip in and out of on a long train journey or a flight. Not demanding, surely, but very satisfying; sort of like a natter with a good friend.