03/03/2014

The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass: Adrian Plass and the Church Weekend (by Adrian Plass)


I have very much enjoyed Adrian Plass's writing, for many years now. Much of his writing is thought-provoking, albeit light-hearted and very readable, but nothing, in my view, reaches the brilliant heights of 'The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, age 37 3/4'. Still, I liked all the sequels, so I was very pleased when I learned that he had written another 'Sacred Diary' book, published last year. I put it on my wishlist and was thrilled to receive it for Christmas.

The story, as ever, is written - slightly confusingly - by the fictional Adrian, who, I gather, bears quite a strong resemblance to the real one. In this book, he agrees, against his better judgement, to organise a church weekend away. His minister is very laid back, and Adrian finds that the complexities increase as the event approaches.

He (the fictional Adrian) decides to keep a detailed journal of events, in the style of his former 'Sacred Diary' books, so the format of this volume is familiar. So are most of the characters, albeit being rather older. And there's my first (admittedly minor) gripe with this book. On the back, this book says that Adrian (the fictional one) is now aged 62 and three-quarters. But in the previous volume (Adrian Plass on tour), where the age was not given, he must have been at least 49, if not 50. Which would be fine, other than the fact that in the previous volume his son Gerald had only just met a potential significant other ... yet in this book, they have a 16-year-old son. 67 3/4 would be a more appropriate age for Adrian, I feel, if he must have a grandson of this age.

There are some quite poignant threads in this book as well as some typical Plass-style humour: it's not the laugh-aloud hilarity of the first in the series, but I did chuckle a few times. I particularly liked the digressions taken by Leonard and Angels, following the directions of a SatNav - although it would have been nice to have them take more of a central place in the narrative.

Anne, Adrian's fictional wife, is as insightful as ever, and their son Gerald, now an experienced Vicar, a little wiser and more mature than he used to be. His wife Josey is a total delight, although I do wish there had been a chance to get to know her better. There are plenty of new characters too - caricatures, of course, and not particularly memorable, but mostly recognisable. Ironically the one I found least interesting was Cameron, Gerald and Josey's son, who came across as a pale reflection of Gerald at the same age.

I would have liked the ending - the very ending - to be a little more conclusive. Some threads come nicely to an end, and it felt as if this was going to be the last in the series. But not everything was entirely wrapped up, and it's a testament to the writing that I want to know...

Overall, I very much enjoyed reading this book, but it would be quite confusing for anyone who had not read the previous volumes. There are more than enough new characters even for those of us who are already familiar with the series. Still, I would recommend this to anyone wanting to find out more about the fictional Plass family, and relax with some light, amusing and thought-provoking writing. There's the bonus of a very interesting introduction about the real Adrian Plass.

Available in Kindle form, and hardback, and soon to be available in paperback.
Review by copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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