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I chose to read the book: Number Ten, written by Sue Townsend.
The book is 322 pages long.
Edward Clare, the prime minister of England and his wife and family.
Jack Sprat, the policeman guarding number ten
Jacks mother Norma and her housekeeper, James.
Malcolm Black, the dour chancellor.
The private chauffeur, a Pakistani called Ali.
The prime minister in England is losing votes by the minute and is forced to find a solution fast.
The book has a political theme. It’s about the English government and all of the problems this can cause. Some problems in the book is the starvation situation in Africa, invading Iraq or not and national problems like: Hospital cues, transport problems and so on. This is the main theme throughout the book. Another theme is childhood and how it can play a big role in what your life becomes.
Who is telling the story?
This book is told by a person from the outside, who tells his or her story from his or her angle.
About the book
The book is a satirical story based on the present PM of England, Tony Blair. The prime ministers wife Adele is also based on the real life character, Cherie Blair.
The book is about the Prime minister of England, Edward Clare. He has lost touch with the people and the love they once had for him and what he stood for. But the PM has lost all his principles; he has forgotten what the labour party is all about.
In the beginning of the book he holds a press conference were he reveals that he hasn’t taken the train for years and doesn’t know what a gallon of milk costs anymore. The following night a staff meeting is held: His political adviser Alexander McPherson tells the prime minister that he should go out and get to know his people again. He loses votes every day to his political rival, Malcolm Black. At this particular time in England the trains are always late, the cues are long and the treatment in the hospital is too bad. And everyone is blaming the PM.
His wife Adele is a superwoman, the cleverest woman in the world. But she hasn’t always been. She has a psychiatric disorder that causes her to have dilutions and hear voices inside of her head if she doesn’t take her medicine. Before departing the PM worries about Adele, and whether she remembers to take her medication. And his worst fear is confirmed, she doesn’t.
The police man guarding number ten, Jack Sprat and the prime minister travels to Edinburgh, as the first stop on their week long journey. Using Adele’s clothes, he disguises himself as a woman.
Jack discovers that Edward is very good at lying and that he can pass himself of as practically everything from a social worker to an actress. They meet all kinds of people and get in surreal situations: Like when the prime minister is asked to act in the play about the PM that has lost all of his principals.
Meanwhile Jacks mother Norma (71) is in her house in Leicester. She is accompanied by her recently hired housekeeper, James. He moved in with Norma, after telling her he had no where else to go. He lies to Norma, telling her that he has no family. His friends are constantly over and they smoke dope in Norma’s house, Norma smokes dope as well. Her house is turned into a crack den and Norma is paid to wash their pants when they shit themselves. She has grown fond of James and she loves him. James calls her mother and in some weird way she falls madly in love with him. She has been living alone since Jacks step father died and she appreciates James` company. So she lets James treat her any way he pleases.
Jack is the white sheep of the family. Every member of his family is a criminal in one way or the other. Jack has been sitting at his desk every second of his life, reading and trying to get somewhere. He knew that the second he looked up it would all be lost, and he would end up like them. Norma is ashamed of her son and is wondering where she went gone wrong.
While the prime minister is away Adele starts feeling worse and worse. She is convinced that Edward is the new Christ and that he is not returning to her. She starts wearing dreadful clothes and goes to the press with the weirdest stories. The housekeeper has a son named Barry. He has to amputate his leg and this is really upsetting for him, of course. Adele arranges a funeral for Barry’s leg and Barry’s leg is in some strange way, one of the main characters in the book. Adele’s conversations with her foot therapists are taped, and she tells her therapist that every wart deserves a funeral. This of course gets out to the press and the circus has officially started.
Adele and Edwards son, Morgan is a socialist and does everything he can to mess things up for his parents. He is a teenager, of course. Malcolm Black the dour chancellor is helping Morgan out on his project, about socialism. Malcolm Black is as I mentioned earlier the PM`s political rival.
The PM and Jack hires a private chauffeur, a Pakistani called Ali. Ali has been driving his taxi for many years and has seen all sorts of things. He isn’t at all surprised by the PM`s choice of life as a drag queen. Throughout the book he keeps questioning himself about the English men and their values. His main concern is love, why they don’t hug each other and why they can’t be bothered to show each other when they are truly happy to see one another. He is also occupied with the school system and their annual exams that he dislikes.
On their way home from their holiday they swing by Jacks mothers place. James is stone with his friends and Norma keeps to herself, she is scared. They have to break in to the house, where James is running around talking about how crack is God and how they have to sacrifice everything to get it. Things happen and suddenly James is holding a gun to the prime ministers head and everyone finds out that he is in fact Edward Clare and not Edwina St. Clare.
Jacks sister Yvonne comes along on her way home from Marbella. She’s not very surprised with the situation and is calm and collected. At last Jack is able to save the prime Minster from James. He takes tells his mum to pack her bags and send her of to Marbella with Yvonne. Norma’s bird and friend, Peter isn’t lightly to survive a plane ride and is placed with the prime minister.
Pete receives a warm welcome at the Clare house and Estelle responsible for the bird. They decide to let him out of his cage for 1 hour a day so that he can experience freedom. In the end of the book Peter flies out of the window with Jack running behind him. He flies towards a curtain death, in the confrontation with the pigeons at Trafalgar’s Square.
The main characters in the book
Jack Sprat is a police man from Leicester, England. He is one of the policemen guarding number 10.
He had one brother, who died young. His sister Yvonne lives in Marbella. She is involved in a pyramid scheme and has borrowed money from Norma. When she returns she hasn’t spoken to her mother in a while.
Jack is a tidy freak and can’t live with anyone. His relationships don’t seem to work because of his strange behaviour. He alphabetises the books, cd`s, spices in the rack and everything else he can obsess about. I interpret this as Jacks way of keeping some amount of order in a chaotic life. His mother Norma is more of a mother to her bird, Pete, than she ever was to Jack. Jack has that in common with Edward, that they both had poor childhoods. The book doesn’t tell all that much about Jacks childhood either. Norma has a conversation with James were she shows him baby pictures and talks about her children, mostly about Jack.
One of the reasons why Jack had a bad childhood was because he was the white sheep of the family, the only honest, non-criminal person. They were living in a neighbourhood were everyone was a criminal in one way or the other. Jack grew up with little or no acceptance from his family.
Edward Clare, the prime minister or Edwina St. Clare, actress:
Edward Clare grew up in Edinburgh with father and his sister Pamela. He has a wife and three children. His wife’s name is Adele and his three children are named Poppy, Estelle and Morgan.
The book doesn’t mention any episodes in particular from Edwards’s childhood. In the books prologue one story is told, from the day Edwards mother died. Edwards’s childhood is a problem in his adult life and he cant seem to let it go.
Edward stays away from his family as much as he can, but in the end he needs them, to complete the puzzle. The journeys purpose is for Edward to find himself, and in order to do that he has to take a choice: To go back to his childhood and find his roots.
Edward looks back and is feeling alone, wondering why he never was enough for his father. The thing he seems to struggle with the most is the subject of his mother. That’s why he goes to see his sister Pamela on his journey through England; he wants pictures or stories from their childhood and especially about his mother. He doesn’t remember her at all, and that is a big issue for him. Unfortunately his mother hated having her picture taken, but Pamela tells him about her uncle in the nursing home. He might have some pictures. When they visit him he tells Edward stories of his mother and that she was another person that he thought. Edward finds out that his father isn’t his father after all, it’s a bosnic man. After the visit Edward uses some time to think about his new situation. And he seems to be at peace with this, he doesn’t have to spend time thinking about the man he used to think was his father.
His childhood and his relationship with his father not mentioned in the book.
Edward and his wife Adele depend on each other. Before his journey though England, they haven’t been a part for more than one day since they met. Edward doesn’t seem to have a problem with his own family as you think he should have. His children all seem to have a good relationship with their father, despite the fact that two of them are teenagers.
The book doesn’t say too much about his relationship with his sister, but from what I read it’s not good. I would describe him as a very searching person, always looking for his true self. The PM and Jack has one thing in common: They both had a terrible childhood. Throughout the entire book I can sense a bound between them, because they in some way understand each other.
My favourite parts of the book
The Prime ministers sister runs a Kennel. Being shown around, the visitors get to the dogs quarters: Jack: ".was astonished to find cubicles, carpets and soft lighting. Each dog had an outside run and a colour television; a few of them were watching Crossroads."
This part of the book takes place when the PM and Jack visits the PM`s sister, Pamela. I had a good laugh when I read this part, and after reading reviews on the internet; I’m not the only one.
Jack had problems of his own. His mum's house had been turned into a crack den.
"Crack cocaine is top of the government agenda," Edwina said.
Jack snapped: "Your policies just aren't working."
"That's not fair," Edwina sobbed. "We don't have any policies”
This is another great bit from the book and it explains the problem in the book really well. How Edward Clare has lost all of his policies.
By including these parts from my book I can show some of the great humour of the book. These are just a few examples and I can promises you a few more laughs reading your way through this book.
My opinion of the book
I thought the book was really great and the language was easy to digest. This important for me when I read an English book: Mainly because it’s not my mother tongue. The part that was really difficult to understand was the political part of the book, as well as some expressions about things like the m15, the m6 and so on. I had a talk with my mother and found out what they were, but it was difficult for me to understand the meaning of some things before I established the things I questioned. I can’t believe it’s possible to be that lucky, I just went in to a kiosk and picking out a book, and then I came across one of the best books I’ve read for quite some time.
The book is very emotional, not emotional like you’re about to cry, but just letting the reader in on what they feel. In these 322 pages I got to know two new persons almost better than my own friends. They are described from their childhood and up until now. It’s the main reason why this is the best book I’ve read for a long time.
It’s very difficult to understand some of the humour in the book because of the lack of knowledge when it comes to the British government and politics. My solution to this problem was to read some reviews of the book on the internet, to find out whether I got things right or not.
I would recommend this book to someone that has knowledge about the British politics. If that person understands English well it’s of course a plus. I think it is important to understand what you are reading before you can make up your mind about the book. That’s why I always read reviews. And I figure if at least one person agrees with me, I know that I got things right. It’s always room for different interpretations on a book of course, but something will also be similar or correct. A fact is a fact no matter what.
The author of the book
The woman that wrote this book is called Sue Townsend and is from England. Her previous
Adrian Mole series: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole - her best selling book.
The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, the True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole
Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years. Other books include:
The Queen and I, Rebuilding Coventry and Ghost Children.
She was born on April 2nd, 1946. She has suffered from diabetes for many years and as a
result of the disease, she was registered blind in 2001.
My own book reviews from last year.