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GROWN UPS by Marian Keyes

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

Genre: Women’s Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Penguin UK – Michael Joseph

Published: 6th February 2020

Reviewed: 31st January 2020


They're a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together - birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they're a happy family. Johnny's wife, Jessie - who has the most money - insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Everything stays under control until Ed's wife Cara, gets concussion and can't keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny's birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it's time - finally - to grow up?

My Review

Grown Ups is a story about the complex relationships between families and extended families, how resentments can fester, and how everything is not always as it seems on the surface. The Casey family are no different, and when Cara bumps her head and gets concussion, she can’t help but tell the truth. The prologue starts in the present day, where we see the three Casey brothers – Johnny, Ed, and Liam - celebrating Johnny’s birthday with their wives and children. The family often get together socially, and even go on holiday together, but when a comment by Cara (Ed’s wife) throws a spanner in the works, the story then flashes back to how these events were not so idyllic as Jessie (Johnny’s wife) likes to think.

Whilst the premise and the prologue both drew me in, the first part of the book seemed ‘expositiony’; chapters seemed fragmented with no real point to them. To be honest I found it a bit boring and found myself skim-reading certain parts. I adore Marian Keyes so was absolutely gutted that I wasn’t completely won over. However, I always read a book to thirty-per-cent and if I don’t like it by then I ditch it, so decided to plough on. By thirty-per-cent, even though the storyline wasn’t that great, there were quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, the characters were well drawn out and I was starting to care about them, so decided to carry on reading. As some of you may know, I only review literature I love (hence the name Literature Love) so I decided to try and finish the book but that I probably wouldn’t be posting a review. However, when I got to about fifty-per-cent, things started to pick up: there was more conflict and the story was starting to relate to the premise. From this point onwards, there was no more skim-reading and I’d reached that point where I didn’t want to do anything else but snuggle up on the sofa and read.

The author deals with some emotionally complex issues such as grief, bulimia, and low self-esteem; and these parts are both heart-breaking and thought-provoking. Although I won’t be giving this the full five-stars because of its slow start, I still really enjoyed the last half of the book and think it deserves a place on Literature Love’s book-review page.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley

for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author

Marian Keyes is one of the most successful Irish novelists of all time. Though she was brought up in a home where a lot of oral story-telling went on, it never occurred to her that she could write. Instead she studied law and accountancy and finally started writing short stories in 1993 “out of the blue.” Though she had no intention of ever writing a novel (“It would take too long”) she sent her short stories to a publisher, with a letter saying she’d started work on a novel. The publishers replied, asking to see the novel, and once her panic had subsided, she began to write what subsequently became her first book Watermelon.

To date, the woman who said she’d never write a novel has published 13 of them: Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Rachel’s Holiday, Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for Beginners, Angels, The Other Side of the Story, Anybody Out There, This Charming Man, The Brightest Star in the Sky , The Mystery of Mercy Close, and The Woman Who Stole My Life, all bestsellers around the world, a total of 30 million of her books having been sold to date.

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