Keyes is at the top of her game with a compulsively readable book about the lively Casey family. It starts with a memorable extended family dinner where - thanks to concussion - Cara blurts secrets to the dismay of everyone, including herself. We then go back in time to find out what brought them all to this point. Keyes is really good at nailing the complexities of a modern Irish family. The family centres round bossy, live wire Jessie, mother of five, who runs her own business and has a spending problem. The little kids are particularly good at saying funny things. Lots of issues are thrown into the mix: bulimia and the plight of asylum seekers to name but two. The bad guy of the book is a brother in law of Jessie’s. He starts off fairly nuanced but emerges as a an ignoble, selfish prick. Perhaps he’s painted a little too black but my goodness - men like this really do exist and it’s so satisfying to have a character you can heartily despise. (Which is an ignoble emotion in itself, isn’t it?)
We’re given the background of all the main characters as they go through their various dramas. So we understand, for example, why the three Casey brothers react differently to their upbringing by cold, judgmental parents, particularly as they parent their own children, or not. For balance, other parents described are much more loveable. Keyes has created quite a large cast of characters and gives them all their due while making it easy to follow who’s who. Her trademark Irish wit and up to date slang make for a greedy read. Having demolished the whole thing in one hit it’s now time to return to reality. And a PS: the Irish elections are soon and this book gives some insight into the most pressing election issue: the housing shortage. Airbnb has had a worldwide impact on that.
First of all let me start by saying that I am a massive fan of Marian Keyes - so it pains me to say that I did n0t love Grown Ups. It started off well and I loved the opening chapters at the dinner party, but after that I struggled to engage with the characters and the story. I did like it but not as much as I usually do with her books.
This is a very long book at 656 pages. I am not adverse to long books, my favourite Stephen King book is over 800 pages. But when the story is a bit slower than you are used to, it does drag a bit. There are an awful lot of characters to remember, and to workout how they fit into the story. The marriages, the businesses and children, it was just a bit overwhelming for me. It does tackle some very grown up issues for the Casey family - fidelity, divorce, eating disorders etc
I have seen mixed reviews for this one and I am surely in the minority. Perhaps I will give it another go sometime and I will enjoy it more.
Thanks to Penguin Books Australia and Better Reading for my advanced copy of this book to read. all opinions are my own and are in no way biased.