24/01/2016

The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass (age 37 3/4) (by Adrian Plass)

It must have been 1987 when I first heard of Adrian Plass. My first son was around a year old, and I had little time for reading… but this book was highly recommended, and I was assured it was something I could read at odd moments. I felt at the time that it was one of the funniest books I had ever read, and also one of the truest.

I read ‘The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass’ again at least two or three times before I lent it to a friend who managed to lose it. Since my copies of its two immediate sequels were falling to pieces, I bought the trilogy version, and read that a couple of times. Then my son borrowed it… and, unwilling to be without the books in our house (and remembering that the trilogy format made rather an awkward book to read) I looked for second-hand individual editions, and was delighted to find them easily online.

It’s a little confusing that the fictional writer has the same name as the real author of the book, but a different family; however, it works well, and although Anne (the fictional wife) and Bridget (the real Adrian Plass’s wife) have rather merged into one in my mind, their college-age son Gerald is unique. He makes bad puns, and spends far too much time making anagrams out of the names of famous people.

I’ve just finished re-reading this book yet again, wondering if I would still find it as funny as I did previously. I remembered many of the one-liners, of course, and the general course of the story, which takes us on a five-month journey into the author’s fictional home. I don’t think I laughed out loud as many times as I did the first time I read this (or the second time…) but there were still a few places where I chuckled, one (the ode to his neighbour…) which had me in stitches.

The humour - mostly satirical - won’t appeal to everyone. It’s very British, as are the caricatured friends and colleagues. The church is a typical non-denominational one with an Elder in charge, and a very mixed bunch of people and speakers. Adrian is determined to do what God wants of him, even if he regularly misunderstands issues and people, and makes some mistakes that are amusing partly because he doesn’t always realise what’s going on.

I love this book and have recommended it to many people; most of them have also enjoyed it, but occasionally someone has handed it back to me, a little puzzled, wondering what the point was. As we used to tell our American friends, it’s not possible to explain Monty Python. I think the same is true of Adrian Plass. His writing has a serious vein running through the humour, and I find his books - including this one - extremely thought-provoking. But not everyone gets him, and that’s okay.

Still in print in both the UK and - a little to my surprise - the US, along with its several sequels.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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