Review: Sue Townsend – The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year

Elizabeth Gould 14 November 2012

The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend

2012, £7.99 Penguin

Sue Townsend’s latest novel is teeming with a cast of magnificent misfits who provide a rich wealth of comic material to entertain the reader. It is quite simply fantastic.

The tale is narrated by Eva, an exhausted mother and wife who simply takes to her bed when her anti-social twins leave for university.

The novel weaves between Eva’s bed based escapades which involve her fractious relationships with Ruby and Yvonne, mother and mother-in-law respectively, her touching friendship with a former ‘wanker banker’ named Alexander and the hilarious love affair between Eva’s husband Brian and his delectable mistress, Titania.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the novel however is Townsend’s depiction of the twins’ largely unsuccessful attempt to navigate their way through university life and shake off their hideous flatmate Poppy, a serial fantasist who succeeds in worming her way into the Beaver household using a combination of wily feminine charm and hard-faced cheek.

It is not only Townsend’s unique ability to parody everyday family life and create situations a huge proportion of her readership can identify with that makes her novels so exceptional; rather it is the subtly dark undertone that undercuts the humour of the narrative.

That said, the shining star of this production is definitely the comedic value of the characters and their amusing words of wisdom. Poppy even informs of us the ‘downside’ of an Oxbridge education. Obviously ‘Oxbridge wanted me. I went for an interview, but quite honestly I couldn’t live and study somewhere so old-fashioned’. You were warned people.

Elizabeth Gould