If you know me then you’ll know that I absolutely love Marian Keyes – I own most of her books and she was the author that really got me interested in the chick lit/women’s fictions genres, having previously been all about thrillers and action novels. Grown Ups is her latest book, this time dealing with a whole family’s worth of issues.
Author: Marian Keyes
Genre: Romance/domestic fiction
Published: February 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?
(Taken from Goodreads)
From the very start of Grown Ups I identified most with Nell, the eco-conscious, design-obsessed 29 year old who marries into the family by wedding Liam, in a somewhat hasty decision because it just feels right. We meet pretty much all of the characters in the very first scene – the first chapter was quite a powerful start to the book, immediately throwing the reader into an awkward family dynamic but no idea why it’s all coming to a head. We’re then taken back before this point, and the reasons for the explosion of emotions start right from the beginning. It’s an interesting idea to pull the reader in, as we already know that things are going to get really, really bad within this seemingly perfect family.
The thing is, I didn’t find myself really engaged with the book until just after the halfway mark, where things happen that cause the lives of each family member to change in some way. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying it, but rather that I didn’t feel invested – there was so much going on and it was hard to keep up. The book contains so many characters, with four or so main storylines all intertwined with one another, and I found myself getting confused with the plot lines and forgetting who characters were, or how they related to the other characters. It took until the 20% mark to have a good grasp of the character dynamic, and even then I didn’t feel grabbed by them until the point where everything changed.
One I reached that halfway point, however, I found myself much more absorbed into the storyline – in particular, the relationship between Nell and Liam. As things starting to change for them I found myself really rooting for Nell, and couldn’t tear myself away from her journey. The other characters not so much – Cara’s story was interesting because it’s such a taboo subject, but it didn’t grip me like with Nell and I think that’s because she was less relatable to me. And, although the dynamic with Jessie and Johnny affected everyone around them, I didn’t find their backstory particularly interesting compared to the present day events (although I understand how crucial that backstory is to really get a full picture of everything that was going on).
The other thing that lessened my excitement towards the book was that I felt it was a tad predictable, which is unusual for Keyes. Perhaps it was because I’ve read so many previous books by her, as I quickly picked up on the various twists that were coming a few chapters before they were due. To me it felt like the foreshadowing was just a tad too strong, but again this could be just because I know her writing style so well. It didn’t make the story any less interesting, but I would have liked a few more surprises.
All that aside though, it still had a lot of the elements I love about Keyes’ writing – the witty Irish humour, the excellent character development, and a string of modern and important themes that add depth to what could have been written in a light-hearted and less meaningful way.
Grown Ups was a really strange read for me because it just didn’t compare to my favourite books from Marian Keyes like The Brightest Star In The Sky, The Woman Who Stole My Life, and a couple of the Walsh family series (there’s only been one other book that I didn’t find amazing which was The Mystery Of Mercy Close, and that’s because Helen Walsh was my least favourite Walsh sister). It’s hard to really explain how I feel about it because my opinion changed so drastically between the first and second half – the first half just didn’t inspire me, yet the second half was as excellent as any other book I’ve read by Keyes.
Being a slow burner this isn’t the first book I’d recommend to those new to chick lit and/or Marian Keyes, however for readers familiar with her work there’s still a lot of enjoyment to be had, and despite not massively liking the first half it was well worth the dramatic crescendo of a finale as it all suddenly comes together at the end. I’ll still be buying every single book that she releases!
If you’d like to purchase Grown Ups by Marian Keyes then you can do so using the following links:
Marian Keyes (born 10 September 1963) is an Irish novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for her work in women’s literature. She is an Irish Book Awards winner. Over 22 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide and her books have been translated into 32 languages. She became known worldwide for Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, and This Charming Man, with themes including domestic violence and alcoholism.
(Taken from Goodreads)
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