Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years

Overview

The further adventures of the master mole.

In his latest confessional diary, Adrian, now thirty, is separated from his exotic and accomplished Nigerian wife, and is a single parent to his three-year-old son. He works as a cook in a smart London restaurant that specializes in repulsive working-class food. When, to his surprise, he finds he has an older son as well, he takes responsibility and finally learns to cope.

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Overview

The further adventures of the master mole.

In his latest confessional diary, Adrian, now thirty, is separated from his exotic and accomplished Nigerian wife, and is a single parent to his three-year-old son. He works as a cook in a smart London restaurant that specializes in repulsive working-class food. When, to his surprise, he finds he has an older son as well, he takes responsibility and finally learns to cope.

Sue Townsend's other novels include Adrian Mole: The Lost Years, Rebuilding Coventry, Ghost Children, and The Queen and I, all available in paperback from Soho Press. She lives in Leicester, England.

"Thank God for Sue Townsend and Adrian Mole, who has grown up from a spotty . . . childhood to join us . . ." (John Mortimer, The Observer)

"Hilarious . . . Adrian is a comic Job. Townsend skewers end-of-the-millennium Britain with acumen and glee." (Booklist)

"When it comes to finding humor in the woes of the perpetual underdog, Sue Townsend is offally good." (Newsday)

"Long before Bridget Jones obsessed about weight, single life and alcohol units, Adrian Mole reigned as Britain's Diarist of Record . . ." (The Miami Herald)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Townsend's hilarious, uniquely British creation, Adrian Mole, first appeared on the literary scene as a spotty teenager in 1982 with the publication of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13U. Mole has become a lovable, frustrated intellectual whose misguided introspectiveness and rash impulsiveness keep him on a cycle of failure and rebound. In this amusing sixth book in the series, Adrian, now 30, is divorced and the father of two sons (William, almost three years old, and Glenn, 12). His good friends are still around: old flame Pandora "we adore ya" Braithwaite has been elected a Labour MP by capitalizing on her short, tight skirts to win votes; best friend Nigel is trying to figure out how to tell his family he's gay. To Adrian's horror, his parents swap partners with Pandora's parents--and his dad discovers Viagra. Despite his ineptitude at cooking, Adrian works as the head chef at a snooty restaurant called Hoi Polloi, which specializes in "execrable nursery food." It is typical of Townsend's humor that characters are feted for what they are not (Adrian--temporarily--gets his own cooking show, "Offally Good!") and unacknowledged for what they are (no one recognizes Adrian's responsible honesty as a father). Throughout, Townsend's lively prose sparkles, giving life to the myriad trivial events of Adrian's day. Adrian makes the inevitable comparison to Bridget Jones: "The woman is obsessed with herself!... She writes as though she were the only person in the world to have problems." Mole composes a brief letter to Jones, asking if she has any advice for getting his diaries published. It's a good thing for readers that Townsend figured out how to do that a long time ago. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
On the eve of Tony Blair's election, Adrian Mole discovers that he is losing his hair. And so begins the latest installment in the "Adrian Mole" saga, which began with the popular and entertaining The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 133/4, published here in 1984. Now in his "cappucino years," Adrian is a single father and chef who struggles financially. His personal life continues to be complicated by his dysfunctional family, his still unrequited love for Pandora Braithwaite, and the revelation that he is father to not one but two sons. Pandora compares Adrian's life to a "situation comedy," and Townsend tries to ring humor from Adrian's failure in his various roles, which include husband, son, and writer. It is not until the end of the book that he finds some redemption in his role as father. And therein lies the greatest single flaw in this book--the teenage angst that was so funny in the younger Adrian wears thin in a man in his 30s who whines about his struggles to define himself as an adult. This is sure to be requested by loyal Mole fans, but its appeal to new readers will be limited.--Caroline M. Hallsworth, Sudbury P.L., Ontario Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
School Library Journal
Townsend's hilarious, uniquely British creation, Adrian Mole, first appeared on the literary scene as a spotty teenager in 1982 with the publication of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13U. Mole has become a lovable, frustrated intellectual whose misguided introspectiveness and rash impulsiveness keep him on a cycle of failure and rebound. In this amusing sixth book in the series, Adrian, now 30, is divorced and the father of two sons (William, almost three years old, and Glenn, 12). His good friends are still around: old flame Pandora "we adore ya" Braithwaite has been elected a Labour MP by capitalizing on her short, tight skirts to win votes; best friend Nigel is trying to figure out how to tell his family he's gay. To Adrian's horror, his parents swap partners with Pandora's parents--and his dad discovers Viagra. Despite his ineptitude at cooking, Adrian works as the head chef at a snooty restaurant called Hoi Polloi, which specializes in "execrable nursery food." It is typical of Townsend's humor that characters are feted for what they are not (Adrian--temporarily--gets his own cooking show, "Offally Good!") and unacknowledged for what they are (no one recognizes Adrian's responsible honesty as a father). Throughout, Townsend's lively prose sparkles, giving life to the myriad trivial events of Adrian's day. Adrian makes the inevitable comparison to Bridget Jones: "The woman is obsessed with herself!... She writes as though she were the only person in the world to have problems." Mole composes a brief letter to Jones, asking if she has any advice for getting his diaries published. It's a good thing for readers that Townsend figured out how to do that a long time ago. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
ForeWord Magazine
Even if truth is stranger than fiction, Townsend has been giving truth a run for its money in the person of Adrian Mole, her fictitious English diarist whose life and predicaments were nicely captured in his self-description from an earlier book: "I have a problem. I'm an intellectual, but at the same time I'm not very clever."

He's an odd duck, hapless one moment, insightful the next, and lovable most of the time. The world he chronicles in his diaries is much like that of common man except the spotlight is on the more absurd qualities of contemporary parenthood, politics, personal relations, and media.

This is Townsend's sixth book in the Mole series. It was released last year in Great Britain, where Mole has a large following. The Mole diaries have sold millions of copies and have been adapted for radio, television, and the stage. Townsend's other novels include Rebuilding Coventry (1988), The Queen and I (1992), and Ghost Children (1998).

The earlier diaries chronicled Mole's years from adolescence to young adulthood. Those were the Margaret Thatcher years, when kids at Mole's school were nearly expelled for wearing red socks. In The Cappuccino Years, Mole is thirty years old and despite the literary aspirations of his youth he is making a precarious living as a chef. Tony Blair is ascendant, and some of Mole's acquaintances expect pound notes to start falling from heaven at any moment.

As a schoolboy, Mole pined for Pandora Braithwaite, and he's still pining for her as she stands for election to Parliament, where she intends to be the "brightest star in Blair's firmament." Mole's parents are still playing sexual mix and match games, in this case with Pandora's parents.Some things have changed. Now there are stores that sell shoes guaranteed to earn respect at school for Mole's newly discovered illegitimate son. The price is exhorbitant, and Mole balks at paying it, but eventually he does. In the image-conscious 1990s, it would be cruel to send a kid to school in the wrong shoes.

Mole no longer writes solemn poetry of his youth, but he does write screenplays, which meet with the same indifference as did his poetry.

Virtually plotless, written with humor that runs the gamut from potty jokes to sly political commentary, the latest installment of Mole's life reveals a man who is at once repelled by and attracted to the self-indulgent, media-fixated culture of 1990s middle-class London. He wants his fifteen minutes of fame but he can't abide the superficiality and sheer wrong-headedness of the television producers who can offer it to him. "I feel alone in a parallel universe," he writes.

Then, through several strange twists of fate, he becomes a television celebrity. It doesn't change anything, because everybody promptly ignores him.

Sally Eckhoff
Adrian's favorite drink in these ''cappuccino years,'' according to a socialist neighbor, is nothing but ''a little bit of coffee and a bloody lot of froth.'' You might say the same of this book, with the understanding that froth is a wonderful invention -- something no comic novelist should be without.
New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569472477
  • Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/28/2003
  • Series: Adrian Mole Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.28 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Sue Townsend is celebrated as the author of the bestselling Adrian Mole series of books, read by millions around the world, as well as the #1 bestseller, The Queen and I. She is also a print and television journalist. She lives in Leicester, England.

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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One


Wednesday April 30th 1997


I take up my pen once again to record a momentous time in the affairs of men (and, thank God, because this is intended to be a secret diary, I am not required to add `and women').

    The day after tomorrow on May 2nd, as dawn breaks, I predict that the Labour Party will just scrape in, and will form the next government. Talk of a landslide victory is hysterical rubbish whipped up by the media.

    My own prediction is based on `insider' knowledge. The insider is an actor called Fred Gipton who was in An Inspector Calls with Tony Booth, the father-in-law of our future Prime Minister. Gipton spilled the beans in Hoi Polloi, the restaurant where I work, after two bottles of Jacob's Creek, a Pernod and a vodka sorbet. After begging me to keep `shtum' he told me that he had heard, via a tortuous grapevine, that Mr Blair expected to win with a tiny majority. Three was mentioned. He also told me that Mr Blair wears a wig, but I have freeze-framed a News At Ten video of him alighting from a helicopter on to a school playing-field and I am satisfied that no wig could stand up to the air turbulence caused by the chopper blades. Tony wears his own hair, it is certainement.

    So, every vote counts, which is why I will drive up to Ashby-de-la-Zouch tonight after I finish my shift in the restaurant. When I told Savage that I would need to take a day off in order to vote, he went into a tirade about the foolishness of giving `hoi polloi' the vote. `If I ruled the f——— country,' he said (I cannot bring myself to write f———), `I'd restrict the vote to men over forty-five years of age, and I'd narrow it down to those who earned over seventy K a year.'

    `You wouldn't allow women to vote?' I checked.

    `No, I f——— well wouldn't,' he raged. `They're all f——— mad. If they've not got PMT they've got HRT or VPL.'

    I pointed out to him that VPL stands for visible panty line, but he was, as usual, beyond reason. When he began to recount the crimes and misdemeanours of his estranged wife, Kim, I went into the kitchen and made onion gravy for the toad-in-the-hole.

    After he calmed down a bit I approached him again. `Mr Savage,' I said, `I have not had a day off for six weeks.'

    `How do you intend to vote?' he asked, challengingly.

    I resented him asking, but I replied, `Labour.'

    `Then no f——— way, Jose,' he shouted, pushing a highball glass under the rum optic, and keeping it there until the glass was half full (or half empty, depending on your personality type). He drank deeply from it, as though the contents were Ribena.

    `Why should I lose a valuable member of staff on one of the busiest days of the year and help that shirtlifter Blair get elected?' He coughed, lighting one of his filthy French cigarettes. I pointed out to him that Mr Blair is far from being a poorer, and has, in fact, fathered a trio of children. Savage gave a horrible phlegmy laugh, during which he crossed his legs (he suffers from stress incontinence). He took me to the front door of the restaurant, pointed at the Hot Rods shop opposite. Rod himself was in the shop window, arranging some studded leather underpants on a collection of tiered display plinths. `Now that's a shop for poofters, am I right, Mole?' he said, breathing rum fumes in my face.

    `The shop specializes in clothes and equipment for gay men,' I conceded.

    `And are none of Rod's customers happily married?' he asked, dropping his voice theatrically.

    I said, with heavy irony, `So, Mr Blair's marriage is a sham and his children are nothing but ciphers conceived in the bed of cynicism, so that one day he will deceive the British people into voting for him, thinking him to be a heterosexual socialist, whereas ...'

    `Mark my words, Mole, Blair is a "friend of Rod's" if ever I f——— saw one, and he's no f——— socialist either.'

    I began to cook the cabbages for dinner. Savage liked them to boil for at least half an hour. My work as a chef has been a doddle since Savage instituted his Traditional English, No Choice menu. Tonight's repast is:


Heinz tomato soup
(with white bread floaters)

* * *

Grey lamb chops
Boiled cabbage avec Dan Quayle potatoes
Dark brown onion gravy

* * *

Spotted Dick à la Clinton
Bird's custard (skin £6.00 extra)

* * *


Cheddar Cheese, Cream Crackers Nescafé After Eight Mint

* * *

There are two types of wine—white £46, red £46

* * *

Service charge not included. You are expected to smoke between courses. Pipes and cigars are particularly welcome.


    The restaurant is fully booked six weeks ahead. Savage turned Princess Michael of Kent away from the door last night. She was distraught.

    The restaurant critic A. A. Gill said in his review in the Sunday Times that Hoi Polloi served execrable nursery food. `The sausage on my plate could have been a turd: it looked like a turd, it tasted like a turd, it smelled like a turd, it had the texture of a turd. In fact, thinking about it, it probably was a turd.'

    Savage has had Gill's review blown up at the Copy Shop and stuck it up in the window, where it draws admiring crowds.

    Around about midnight I asked my fellow workers, those who could understand English, if they intended to vote today. Luigi, the maitre d', is a Communist in Italy, but he will be voting Liberal Democrat in Croydon, where he lives. Malcolm, the washer-upper, said he was thinking of voting Conservative, `because they help the self-employed'. I pointed out to Malcolm that he was only self-employed because Savage refused to pay for a National Insurance stamp and tax, but Malcolm then went on to say that he liked John Major because he (Malcolm) had been fostered by a couple who lived in Huntingdon, Major's constituency. As Malcolm grappled with the Spotted Dick tin in the sink, I asked him about the Conservatives' election pledges.

    `They've said they won't put the taxes up,' he said, in his reedy voice.

    I said, `Malcolm, you don't pay tax, remember? You get paid cash in hand. You're off the books, which enables you to draw benefits from the DSS. You get free teeth, free travel to hospital, free everything.'

    Malcolm said, `On the other hand, I might vote Labour.'


Thursday May 1st


Dean Street, Soho, London, to Wisteria Walk, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, in three hours. Not bad considering I kept under the speed limit all the way. On the way down I heard the Labour Party candidate for Ashby, Dr Pandora Braithwaite, talking about the importance of family values on Talk Radio. I was so outraged I almost choked on an Opal Fruit and steered into the fast lane. Talk about hypocrisy!

    Pandora has shown open contempt for family life. Her first husband, Julian, was openly, in fact boastfully, gay. And her live-in lover, Jack Cavendish, has been married three times and has ten acknowledged children, three of whom have been in drug rehabilitation units up and down the country. The eldest is still languishing in jail in Turkey. Most of the others seem to be attracted to strange religious sects. Tom, the youngest, is a vicar in Hull.

    How Pandora ever got past a Labour Party selection committee is a mystery to me. She smokes at least

(Continues...)


Excerpted from Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years by Sue Townsend. Copyright © 1999 by Sue Townsend. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2004

    Funny and Warm

    I read this book over summer break and it was one of the funniest books I've ever read! I know it's not a big bestseller or anything, but it is a gem of a book. Just try not to burst out laughing in public when you read this!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2002

    A SEQUEL WITH A LAUGHTRACK ALL ITS OWN

    'The Cappuccino Years' has to be one of the laugh-out-loud funniest books I've ever read, even had I not read its predecessors. Adrian Mole is still bumbling through life, still serious and high-minded, still wondering just what the world is coming to. He is surrounded by a cast so bizarre and refreshing that you say 'thank you' all over again to Sue Townsend, just for coming up with them. Should be recommended reading for all those who can't get a laugh out of the day.

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