Book Title: The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year
Author: Sue Townsend
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Chic Lit
Summary: The day that Eva’s children leave home for university is the day she decides to go to bed and stay there. Her refusal to continue to be a dutiful wife and attentive mother has some amusing consequences, including a group of people who gather beneath her window believing her to be some kind of saint or angel, her husband’s mistress moving into the garden shed, and general chaos in her personal relationships.
Favourite Scene: Eva finds a spoon dirty with tomato soup resting on the chair she upholstered with silk she had embroidered by hand. Her heartache at this lack of consideration resonated with me.
Favourite Character: None. At all.
Review: Of Adrian Mole fame, Sue Townsend set high expectations with the combination of her reputation and the title of this novel. Alas, after the first few chapters the potential for hilarity, social commentary, and character development just … withered into nothing. I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews – but I also don’t enjoy reading books that are a total let down. The premise is exciting: a woman, sick of her selfish husband and inconsiderate children, turns away from the world and resolves to stay in bed. The first chapters give reasons we should be sympathetic and justify Eva’s drastic decision, but eventually the novel just … flops.
Eva ends up being just as selfish as those she wishes to rebel against – she expects someone else will take care of her while she resides in her bed. Her mother and mother-in-law become the main caretakers (ironic?), as well as a handyman who – for some strange reason I could not quite understand – is sympathetic to her plight. Her intention to stay in bed for a year becomes fastidious; at one point, she almost starves because no one brings her food. While I’m sure I was supposed to pity her, I couldn’t help but think Eva might have had a more enlightening experience if she had simply left her husband for an isolated country cottage.
The novel does switch between different points of view, but all this really does is emphasise how selfish every single character really is. I simply could not feel any sympathy for anyone. The title and the wistful thoughts that accompany thinking of going to bed for a year are as exciting as this novel gets. Maybe that’s the point? 2 commas!