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Book review: The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year

By Steph Zajkowski

Published: 9:44AM Tuesday June 12, 2012

If you've ever wished you could stop the world and get off, withdraw from everyday life and hop into bed with the covers over your head, this may be the book for you.

For this unlikely premise, of The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year, is the basis of the new novel by best-selling British author Sue Townsend.

The day her gifted twins leave home for university, librarian Eva Beaver climbs into bed and stays there. Finally, this is her chance. Perhaps she will be able to think.

Her husband Dr Brian Beaver, an astronomer who divides his time between gazing at the expanding universe, conducting an unsatisfying eight-year-old affair with his colleague Titania and mooching in his shed, is not happy. Who will cook dinner? Eva, he complains, is either having a breakdown or taking attention-seeking to new heights.

But word of Eva's refusal to get out of bed quickly spreads.

Alexander, the dreadlocked white-van man arrives to help Eva dispose of all her clothes and possessions and bring her tea and toast.

As the weeks turn into months, legions of fans are writing to her or gathering in the street to catch a glimpse of this 'angel'.

Her mother Ruby is unsympathetic to the bed-bound messiah: 'She'd soon get out of bed if her arse was on fire.'

A host of characters populate the narrative and the story becomes as crowded as Eva's bedroom; and though the world keeps intruding, it is from the confines of her bed that Eva at last begins to understand freedom.

The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year is not a challenging read - with print size that could be deciphered from the moon, it is quick to digest.

However there is food for thought in this funny and touching novel about what happens when someone stops being the person everyone wants them to be.

The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend
Publisher: Penguin (NZ)
Available: now