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Number Ten

Number Ten

by Sue Townsend

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“Townsend has a rare gift … wickedly funny.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“It’s not pretty, it’s not subtle, but it’s wickedly funny and skewers London’s prime-time players.”—Columbus Dispatch

Praise for Sue Townsend:

“It’s a good thing British subjects are no


“Townsend has a rare gift … wickedly funny.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“It’s not pretty, it’s not subtle, but it’s wickedly funny and skewers London’s prime-time players.”—Columbus Dispatch

Praise for Sue Townsend:

“It’s a good thing British subjects are no longer beheaded for treason, or Sue Townsend’s head would roll . . . outrageously cutting.”—Newsday

“[Townsend] is a national treasure.”—The New York Times Book Review

Edward Clare, PM of England, doesn’t know the price of a liter of milk. Worse, he’s admitted it on national television. The public that ushered him to a landslide election has turned against him.

Edward decides the only way to get closer to the men and women on the street is to travel the country dressed in drag. Leaving his high-powered, ambitious wife to attend to things in his absence, he sets out.

In this comic romp Sue Townsend sends up, roasts, hoists and generally petards the once and future prime ministers as only she can.

Sue Townsend is celebrated as the author of the bestselling

Adrian Mole

series, read by millions, as well as the #1 British bestseller, The Queen and I. She lives in Leicester, England.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Townsend's latest British farce (after 1993's The Queen and I, which put the British royal family in public housing, to hilarious effect), the prime minister, known by much of his public as "that pratt Edward Clare," sets out to get in touch with the masses. Speaking at a press conference, Edward is caught unprepared by questions on the price of milk and the last time he took public transportation; the little fib he tells makes him a laughingstock. Edward decides a trip across the country will reacquaint him with "the concerns of the majority of British people," and under the watchful eye of Jack Sprat, an intellectual but street-savvy police officer, Edward begins his journey-as Edwina. (It's reasoned that his wife's clothes, and later his own enthusiastically chosen ensembles, will allow Edward to remain incognito.) Edward and Jack visit the grave of Edward's mother, and they endure the pain and humiliation of public transportation before hiring a Pakistani cabdriver, who takes them to visit a poverty-stricken single mother in Leeds. Here, Edward suffers something like a heart attack, which lands him in the hospital-as ill-run as public transportation-and then the psychiatric ward, where he is described as "pathologically unable to commit to an opinion for fear of displeasing the questioner." In the meantime, Edward's loopy wife, Adele, quits taking her medication and gets a nose job, and Jack's mother opens her humble home to a bevy of crack addicts. The three story lines are masterfully and hilariously interwoven, and the book's delightfully absurd characters (especially Edward, and Jack's mother, Norma) are unforgettable. (Nov.) Forecast: This madcap romp through England is sure to delight Anglophiles and the many fans of Townsend's beloved Adrian Mole books. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In the newest political farce from Townsend (Adrian Mole), Prime Minister Edward Clare finds himself detached from the concerns of his voting public, so he dresses in drag and ventures into the British countryside to see how the lower millions lead their daily lives. Along for the ride is Constable Jack Sprat, his personal police officer. Throughout the journey, the prime minister's disguise causes a number of common cross-dressing mishaps-e.g., he is propositioned by an unsuspecting truck driver-but it rarely inspires any fresh humor. The novel uses the tour of the countryside to target the government's impotence in everything from reforming the National Health Service to overhauling England's inefficient railroads. However, while fellow satirist Jonathan Coe creatively weaves such issues into his narratives, Townsend tends to announce their presence; frequent soliloquies by Jack Sprat spell out political critiques rather blatantly. Other characters-e.g., Ed's fiercely intellectual wife and Jack's makeup-caked mother-are sketched with wonderfully quirky detail, making one wish Townsend had put her talent for storytelling and characterization to more use here. As it stands, the story cannot carry the weight of its political ambition. An optional purchase.-Julia LoFaso, Long Island City, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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 giftfor wickedly funny one-liners-and her lighthearted affection for human foibles and foolishness keeps this spot-on satire from becoming too brittle.

Product Details

Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(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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