Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Playing With The Grown Ups” as Want to Read:
Playing With The Grown Ups
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Playing With The Grown Ups

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,497 ratings  ·  176 reviews
To Kitty, growing up at Hay House, surrounded by doting relations, is heaven. But for Marina, Kitty's silver-eyed mother, younger and more beautiful than other mothers, it is simply boredom. Though a string of suitors keeps the phone ringing all day long, she craves novelty, excitement, parties.
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Bloomsbury (first published January 1st 2007)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Playing With The Grown Ups, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Playing With The Grown Ups

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,497 ratings  ·  176 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Playing With The Grown Ups
Feb 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frothy and fizzy like champagne punch with perfectly round scoops of orange creme sherbet floating in it---and a few extra shots of extremely potent brandy.

A quick read.
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
This started out as a somewhat charming story. I liked the main character, and her family was crazy, in a loveable way. I was halfway hoping that the story was close to the author’s own experiences growing up. Especially with having Roald Dahl for a grandfather. (I can totally see Kitty’s grandfather as Roald Dahl). But at the end of the story I was somewhat disappointed. The main characters all go down hill and you really question her mother’s sanity. It is actually quite disturbing at points. ...more
Jane Seaford
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was attracted to this book by the title which I thought was great and I loved it when I started to read it. It's the story of Kitty and her life with her beautiful mother who was only eighteen when Kitty was born.

I found it easy to read but became more and more dissatisfied as the story continued. There's a preoccupation with the way the characters look (the more beautiful the better, as if that were the most significant part of anyone's life); the story line is uneven and appears to be a
Apr 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Susannah
Oh there is a genre of book I do love. Once upon a time at Hastings in Jefferson City, Missouri, a newly licensed 16 year-old braved the two-lane traffic of Missouri Blvd. to make her way to the biggest bookstore within a thirty mile radius. Upon the "HARD BACK NEW RELEASES" there was a lovely book, a photograph in hues of blue with silver writing: By the Shore, by Galaxie Craze. Such a silly name, yes, but the book was amazing, voicing priviate thoughts I'd had and never dared admit to anyone, ...more
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for two reasons:

1. Sophie Dahl is hot.
2. Sophie Dahl is the hot granddaughter of Roald Dahl.

Were it not for her hotness and literary lineage, I would not have read, much less even heard about, Playing with the Grown-ups, Sophie’s first novel.

But despite these irrelevant, verging on sexist, and recklessly inappropriate reasons for reading a book, I enjoyed Playing with the Grown-ups immensely.

Unlike Special Topics in Calamity Physics, whose author is also very hot, Playing with
Jun 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a nutshell, this is a coming of age story about Kitty that catalogues her experiences as she is moved around by her eccentric, artist mother. I had this nagging feeling through the entire book that it should have been written in first person partially because of a distinct sensation that I was actually reading a blog. A good blog. A scandalous blog that you might read with your fingers hooked to the edge of your slightly opened mouth. Sometimes it felt more like reading a charming & ...more
Jun 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of White Oleander
Recommended to Brittany by: British Glamour Magazine
How I Came To Read This Book: I read about it in British Glamour magazine and ordered it from

The Plot: Kitty is 11 years old as the book kicks off, and living with her artistic mother, infant twin siblings, and grandparents in a beautiful English country home. The next four years of her life however, are mired by her mother's erratic behaviour that takes them to New York, a spiritual Ashram, and back to a darker London then either has experienced previously. Essentially the book
Sep 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I finished this book with zero idea of what the author was wanting me to take away from it. "Family sticks together", maybe? I mean, I didn't not enjoy it, but I certainly won't remember it. I have an incredibly difficult time focusing, and the rambling anti-structure of this book may have been what enabled me to finish it. I liked the quirky Kitty, and I greatly enjoyed reading about her experiences, but there were odd time jumps that added little to the story, and some parts that were just ...more
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
I would have given this book more stars had actually gone somewhere. It started and then seemed to abruptly finish. I think there were beautiful passages in this book, but I kept waiting for the characters to develop. Maybe I am too used to mysteries and therefore this book was a little too steady and uneventful. I really wished for a happy ending for Kitty and her mother, and just felt sad at the end.
Apr 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. I think the cover looks like a sexeducation book or something like that. But the story is nice. There's a lot going on and the story wasn't very coherent. I really liked Marina and the way she was a bit of a stereotype. I don't know wh eterit was the authors intention to make kitte a little bit annoying but in some way this really worked. I mean all girls of her age are a little bit annoying.
When I started this book I really like it, but in the middle it lost my interest. It is too flat. Kitties live is written like a sum of facts and there is no relation between the events. And the mother is a little bit too weird for me. Nothing special.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Started off good but abandoned half way thorugh as it was grating on me.
Gregory Knapp
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A really enjoyable book.

If you like the character of Jessa on Girls you could well imagine this as the story of her life up until the point she shows up in Brooklyn.
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not surprised that the average Goodreads ratings for this book is a so-so 3.24 out of 5 stars at the moment I'm writing this review. It reaffirms the fact that taste is relative, because I actually really enjoyed the simple plot and the complicated characters. It's a plainly beautiful story.

Like many others, what first caught my eye about this book was the author herself. Anyone would have high expectations of the granddaughter of Roald Dahl, who's also a legit supermodel. But secondly, it's
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I grew up reading Roald Dahl's books as a wee nipper (and have been on a Dahl kick again of late in my late thirties), so was ecstatic when I came across a copy of Sophie Dahl's book, Playing with the Grown-ups recently. I really liked how this was written - it was unusual and quirky and quite unlike anything I've ever read before. It was like a bunch of snapshots or moments from someone's life rather than an actual narrative, yet you could still follow what was happening. The story follows ...more
What a beautiful spiral of an unstable family! Dahl has a talent for writing beautifully, in a way that makes me want to keep reading even if it feels like I don't know exactly what's going on. Early in the book I had some trouble paying attention and keeping characters distinct, but that may have had more to do with how quickly I've read books this month. As I got further in, the story got clearer (still with the aura of mystery) and I couldn't put it down.

Trigger warnings for young-ish teen
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I did like this book, I felt it was well written but it stopped so abruptly that I was convinced for a minute that I was missing some pages. It was an ok read but I wouldn't say it made my top 100 or that I am ever going to read it again. Bit of an anti climax with unfinished business.
Nicky Foster
Apr 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
A book that had been on my bookshelf for ages and I wish I’d left it there. Boring drivel, distasteful characters and no story or plot!
Absolute waste of time.
Eva Belčič
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enchanting book, descriptions so vivid you can feel yourself truly being there...
Marion Benwell
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this book, I loved the diversity of Kitty's life, from freak at the boarding school to young girl meeting pervs in bars. The theme :bohemian woman, young girl in tow prived of a normal life, and so seen as abnormal, quite reminded me of White Oleander by Janet Fitch, which I still place a notch above, but not far !
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was an enjoyable read with very well described and visual characters.
It just leave you with a sense of 'what just happened' and leaves you thinking through the stories of the characters after you have finished.
The writing was fluid and well written.
Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
The story begins with the ever-dreaded phone call in the middle of the night, summoning Kitty to London because something's happened to her mother. Heavily pregnant herself, Kitty gets on the first flight, and, we think, starts the story from the beginning to demonstrate how she and her family got to the point where her mother lies in the hospital.

As a child, Kitty lived a somewhat idyllic life in the English countryside with her mother, brother, sister, aunts, grandparents, and nanny. Dahl
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sophie Dahl has loosely drawn on her own unconventional family background to create this sweet coming-of-age story; an easy read which I finished in a day on a 5 hour journey.

It isn’t chick-lit, it isn’t a young adult novel, but it has elements of both all wrapped up in a well written story. Sophie is a surprisingly good writer, having built the tale around Kitty, who has grown up with her eccentric and slightly rock-chicky mother, wonderfully grounded grandparents and twin half-siblings from
Laurel May
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Honestly, I don't know what to think of this book. It was pretty bad, but I still finished it which means it at least kept me interested. It's not usually the type of book I would jump up to buy anyway, I just bought it because it was part of a 3 for 5 deal and I needed one more book.

It's really just about a terrible mother's influence on her children, leading them to be messed up through their childhood. At first, the mother was cool and understandable, I could sympathise with her in a way.
Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Playing with the Grown-Ups is about Kitty and her mom, Marina. It’s about growing up and realising that glamorous mom hasn’t got it all.

The story begins with a pregnant Kitty who gets a phone call from her sister to come to England, something happened to their mother. Kitty hops on a plane and there it begins. We get to know Kitty and her family trough some kind of flashbacks.

Kitty and her mother lived with her grandparents, bestepapa and bestamama (so cute and fairytale like) but mom decides
Feb 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
This novel tells the life experiences of a young girl (Kitty) on the cusp of adulthood and her self-destructive "mummy" Marina. It is a beautifully written coming-of-age tale which develops quite a gritty sting in the latter half while describing Kitty's teen years. Throughout the story we read about Kitty’s idyllic life in country with her grandparents, mummy, aunts, siblings and nanny, her stay at boarding schools, the moving back and forth between England and the U.S., her friendships, drugs, ...more
Nov 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coming-of-age
For the first half of this book, I was reminded in ridiculous amounts of Tiger, Tiger by Galaxy Craze. Apparently this was published a full year before Tiger, Tiger however, so similarities are either coincidental, or at least not the fault of Dahl. At any rate, this is the better book.

Kitty is subject to the narcissistic and confused whims of her young and beautiful artist mother, who drags her to America so she can study in a cult-like setting with a swami. After this, Dahl moves the reader
Jan 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Dahl has a lyrical prose that flourishes enough to tap into the protagonist's emotions, but is measured enough that the writing detracts from a compelling and tight plot.

In this coming of age story, the protagonist walks us through her childhood from the safety of her successful adulthood, secure in a happy marriage and impending parenthood.

As a young girl, our protagonist describes her childhood country-side upbringing beautifully and establishes complicated relationships with her family
Aug 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I found a copy on a bookshelf with children's books and didn't know what to expect.
It's been a week since I finished it and I find myself still thinking about it -usually a good sign. The main character, Kitty, has a happy childhood, growing up with her grandparents and single-mum. Or at least, that is what she thinks. Het biological father married someone else. Her mother is quite famous. And quite stunning. And has moodswings. Not to mention her mother focuses primarily on herself. As a
Apr 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, april
Playing with the Grownups is a GenX coming-of-age story told from the point of view of Kitty, a child born to an unmarried high school student who had an affair with a married man. This story is as much the story of Kitty's coming-of-age as it is a story of the coming-of-age of her mother, Marina. The story is told as a series of flashbacks Kitty has while traveling back to England to visit her hospitalized mother. Even outside of the flashback convention, the flow of the story tends to get a ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Generation A
  • The Devil's Fire (Devil's Fire, #1)
  • Winter Trees
  • Life After God
  • All Families are Psychotic
  • Lady Chatterly's Lover
  • The Venetian (This Haunted World, #1)
  • The Devil's Horizon (Devil's Fire, #3)
  • The Devil's Tide (Devil's Fire, #2)
  • Toward the Midnight Sun
  • Scarlet Devil (Devil's Fire, #4)
  • A Time To Change
  • Making Space: Creating boundaries in an ever-encroaching world
  • The Collected Poems
  • Confituurwijk
  • State of the Union: A Marriage in Ten Parts
  • Me, the Missing, and the Dead
  • The Ice Palace
See similar books…
Sophie Dahl (born Sophie Holloway) is an English author, cookbook writer and former model. She was born in London, the daughter of actor Julian Holloway and writer Tessa Dahl. Her maternal grandparents were author Roald Dahl and actress Patricia Neal. Her paternal grandfather was actor Stanley Holloway. She was the inspiration for Sophie, the main character in her maternal grandfather's book The ...more
“The problem with life is, we often do things that will ultimately be self-destructive and make us unhappy, yet in that moment it seems like the best idea in the world. You have to be careful of moments - they're tricksy things.” 52 likes
“I think it doesn't really make a difference where she is, because she always takes herself with her.” 13 likes
More quotes…