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Book DetailsISBN: 9780718179755
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Book Review: Grown Ups: The Sunday Times No 1 Bestseller 2020 by Marian Keyes - Reviewed by CloggieA (02 Jan 2020)
5 stars Grown Ups is the ninth stand-alone novel by award-winning Irish author, Marian Keyes. If their extended family looks friendly and agreeable on the surface, like most families, the individual members of the Casey family have more going on than they’re willing to reveal: either outside the family, or within. Behind their harmonious façade, individual tensions, resentments, attractions, and anxieties may be festering, but they present a united, happy front.
The Casey brothers, Johnny, Ed and Liam, and their families get together regularly for important occasions, all through the flawless organisation of Johnny’s wife, Jessie. Whether they can afford it or not is irrelevant: Jessie insists on participation, and covers the costs to ensure it.
But at Johnny’s forty-ninth birthday dinner, the cracks below the surface widen, perhaps beyond repair, when Ed’s wife’s customary expert diplomacy vanishes in the wake of a bump to the head: Cara speaks her mind, and some uncomfortable secrets are exposed.
Most of the story is set over a six-month period in 2020, and for the bulk of that, the reader encounters the family at gatherings: holidays, birthdays, first communions, anniversaries; and despite most being on their best behaviours, frictions soon become apparent. Indeed, the children often behave in a much more adult manner than do the Grown Ups.
At 643 pages, this is not a quick read but the length does allow the reader to get to know the major characters intimately and, except of course for the psychopath, to like them (Ed will be a favourite) and care about their fates. The psychopath, whose nature is perhaps not obvious at introduction but soon becomes clear, proves more despicable at every turn.
As the story slowly builds to its climax, the cast of characters is studied in plenty of detail, via their dialogue, actions and reactions, with numerous flashbacks filling in backstories. Their perceived inadequacies, lack of self-esteem, and guilt, are catalogued, and Keys also explores other topical themes: the environment, the plight of refugees, and bulimia.
Keyes does seem to labour the point on a certain issue, but if a little tedious, it is worth persisting with for the relevance to the plot. Overall, though, it’s difficult not to become so immersed in the lives of these people that the pages just fly by. There may even be a tear or two on the final page. So very readable! This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Better Reading Preview and Penguin Random House Australia
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