A comprehensive study of the non-dramatic work of Sue Townsend. (Jurgen Willems)
Sue Townsend is now a very rich woman thanks to the unexpected success of her Adrian Mole creation. Nevertheless she has remained her own congenial self and she has definitely not forgotten her unhappy past. She is very much concerned with the lowest category of society, which she once belonged to herself. In her fiction she presents an indictment of the conservative government policy and the social abuses in present-day England.
Townsend's novels (especially her Adrian Mole books) give an overall picture of life in Britain in the eighties and the early nineties. Next to her stories the writer presents a wide range of interesting, important and controversial themes, motifs and issues, which enrich her work considerably.
On the surface Townsend's books may seem artificial and merely entertaining but on closer reading they do reveal themselves as works of literary art. The author fuses the influences of great writers such as Dostoevsky and Dickens into something that is clearly identifiable as a product of her own. Throughout her career, she has developed a clearly recognizable style, which is compact and dear. This clarity of style accounts to some extent for Townsend's success. But this is definitely not the only reason for her books' popularity. Especially her humour is an aspect of her fiction that is very much appreciated by her readers. Townsend's humour is very varied. It ranges from refined and ingenious to obscene or vulgar.
I hope that, in the course of this dissertation, I have convinced those people who were sceptical of Townsend's artistic quality that she is a writer who does not deserve to be regarded as a 'worthless' popular author. Moreover, I would be very pleased if I could persuade some readers to read one or more books of Townsend.