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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Sue Townsend - The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year

review by Ro Bennett live on show 31st January
This is the official synopsis

The day her twins leave home, Eva climbs into bed and stays there. For seventeen years she's wanted to yell at the world, 'Stop! I want to get off'. Finally, this is her chance.
Her husband Brian, an astronomer having an unsatisfactory affair, is upset. Who will cook his dinner? Eva, he complains, is attention seeking. But word of Eva's defiance spreads.
Legions of fans, believing she is protesting, gather in the street. While Alexander the white van man brings tea, toast and sympathy. And from this odd but comforting place Eva begins to see both herself and the world very, very differently. . .
Many years ago I read the Adrian Mole books and found them relaxing and funny so I was looking forward to reading this book as the title appealed to me - who hasn’t fantasized about just staying in bed sometimes. 

I can understand and empathise with. Eva having gone to bed after seeing her seventeen year old twins, Brian Jr and Brianne, off to university because it is what she has been wanting to do ever since the twins were born. But she soon began to irritate and annoy me and I totally lost sympathy with her. 

Once she had taken to her bed she never got in touch with her kids who are admittedly ghastly but I can’t understand that at all. They’re having a difficult time at university and want to talk to her but they can’t make contact because she has cut the phone off. 

To me, she was just self absorbed and selfish - quite willing to let her 79 year old mum run around after her, cooking her meals and so on.  I’d have let her starve. 

I didn’t warm to any of the characters except Alexander the artist cum white van man and Eve’s dear old mum. Admittedly the characters are caricatures but they are mostly deeply unpleasant. 
The book was claimed to be witty and hilariously funny. I must have had a sense of humour bypass as I just found it annoying, dark and depressing. Don’t read this book if you need cheering up.
However I did read that Sue Townsend had a lifesaving kidney transplant in January 2010. Her eldest son Sean, aged 44, donated one of his organs. After long-term diabetes she’d spent two years on dialysis and on the organ waiting list with her kidneys functioning at just 5 per cent of normal capacity. She developed an infection and other complications and now uses a wheelchair due to a foot condition plus she is partially blind. So it’s amazing she’s even managed to write a book and we can certainly forgive her if it’s a tad dark.

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