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?
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.
Sometimes serendipity strikes and you find yourself reading the right book at the right time, this was a case in point, after some dark reads this lighthearted and amusing Irish family drama was the perfect antidote that I needed. Marian Keyes immersed me into the life and times of the Casey Family, three brothers, their assorted marriages, children and families. The good looking Johnny is the second husband of the powerhouse of energy that is Jessie, with two children from her previous marriage, and three with Johnny. She is the big family earner with her exotic grocery business, and she funds the family get togethers that are at the heart of this novel, family is the most important thing that matters to her. Easy going Ed is married to his beloved Cara, who works at the Ardglass Hotel business, handling difficult customers with ease, they have two children. The smarmy, less than truthful and sleazy Liam has just got married to the free spirited, humanitarian and compassionate Nell with her pink hair, working as a theatre set designer. Liam has two children from his previous marriage to Paige.
The book opens with Johnny's birthday dinner where the whole family is in attendance, Cara is suffering from a recent head injury and concussion, as a result out of her mouth pour out unfiltered truths and secrets that rock the entire family, leaving them aghast and broken. The narrative then goes back six months to arrive at the present. The past includes family get togethers for Easter at an upmarket hotel, the fraught wedding anniversary celebrations of the Casey brothers dreadful parents, Canice and Rose, Jessie's birthday, the humiliation and laughter that ensues at a murder mystery weekend, poorly catered for by the hotel that organises it, a Tuscany family holiday and attendance at a festival. We learn of Jessie's low self esteem and blindness when it comes to preparing for the future of her business, Ferdia's coming of age, Nell living to rue her decision to get married far too quickly without really knowing Liam, the schism with Jessie's dead husband's family, and Cara's body issues and eating disorders that she is determined to hide from everyone.
This is not going to be a read for everyone, for a start this is a long book that may try the patience of some readers. However, if you are in the right frame of mind and mood, then it is likely that Marian Keyes will work her usual magic and lure you easily into the drama, intrigue and joys of the Casey family. Like most families, they are not perfect, they are dysfunctional, but they are human and flawed. There are ill thought out decisions and all that goes with adults negotiating their lives with the the mistakes that get made, the feelings and issues that drive their actions and behaviour, all in all it is everything that comprises the realities of life. An engrossing, entertaining and fun read that touches on grief, loss, addictions, love, secrets and deception. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC.
Marian Keyes presents another batshit crazy, complex, dysfunctional family drama. A humongous family and tons of characters made me feel like I’m watching German series “Dark”, trying to remember the names, their connections, back stories. A few times, I turned back and read some parts again not confuse a character with the other one.
This is a long, witty, dramatic, hilarious story about three charming brothers and their wives and their children…Casey Brothers: Johnny, Ed and Liam, victims of cold hearted and authoritative parents, trying to shape their lives by having their own big families.
Johnny married with grocery empire queen Jessie- my least favorite character likes to control people by over spending her money to earn their time and respect, looks like always gives you encouraging compliments: “Oh, you look fantastic this hippo costume!”, “Wow! What a fantastic bulldog! Wow, you said it’s not a dog! It’s your 3 year old son! Okay, I’m taking the bone back!” Yes! I want to skip her parts so bad! I confess right now!) He has problems with step child Ferdia who thinks he’s better than anyone and suffering from bad breakup!
Ed lives in the shadow of too charming but also pretentious brothers, sweetest guy and my favorite of the brothers. And his wife Cara is my favorite character. She is hard worker, problem solver, flexible, smart but she also deals with her eating disorders and secretly fights with her bulimia problem. I loved their children as well.
And Liam, famous runner and now biker, divorced from his wife who took the custody of her two children to move to the US. And he is remarried with Nell, twice younger than him. Nell is also carefree, adventurous, confident, artist with her thrift shop, baggy clothes with her pink hair (a little older version of Billie Eilish) But Liam’s secretive and over protective attitudes around his daughters slowly creates troubles in their sweet paradise.
So one day, Cara gets concussion and at a family dinner she starts to spill beans about the big family secrets. (Actually this is how the book starts and we move back to six months ago, an entire family vacation to understand the problems from the beginning) We learn more about the family members’ background stories, resentments, dirty secrets, grudges, problematic obsessions, the things they hide behind the big family façade.
This is the first time, I changed my mind about how much stars a book deserved. When I read my favorite characters’ part like Cara and Nell and let’s not forget Bridey who is the REAL GROWN UP of this book because all of the parents have so many faults, buried their heads in sand, dealing with their own misery and acting immature when Bridey tries to push them gather their wits. ATTA GIRL! She seems like know-it-all, pretentious and annoying but I laughed so hard to her comments. Just for her, I was ready to give five full stars but… the problem is I got lost into millions of characters and not each of them is interesting. Some characters’ parts slowed down the pace and my positive thinking about the book slowly start to dissipate.
But thankfully the ending was satisfying, engaging. So I’m rounding up my 3.5 stars to 4. I’m reading Marian Keyes’ books for 15 years and she really writes a hell of amazing family portraits. Walsh Sisters’ books (especially “Anyone Out There” and “Rachel’s Holiday” are my “must reads”) are my favorites.
This book is also entertaining, powerful, laugh-out-loud, feel-good reading with tragic and tear jerking elements. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the growing number of characters. But at least we have still memorable ones.
Special thanks to NetGalley and Penguen Random House Canada/Doubleday Canada for sharing one of my favorite author’s ARC with me in exchange my honest review.
This is a big book (656 pages) about a big messy Irish family where the children are all behaving, but the grown-ups not so much. The Caseys are comprised of three brothers, wives and an ex-wife and several children. Headed by eldest brother Johnny, a charmer and his bossy, generous Jessie who together run a successful grocery and cooking business, although Jessie very much wears the pants at work and at home. Middle brother Ed is an easy going botanist is married to Cara who has self esteem issues even though she is a successful customer wrangler at a prestigious Dublin hotel. Nell is the latest addition to the family, recently married to the youngest brother, divorcee Liam, who maybe is turning out to be not quite the man she thought she married.
Jessie loves nothing better than bringing all the family together for big events, rounding them all up for birthdays, trips to luxurious hotels for Easter and summers in a glorious Tuscan villa. The book opens with a family gathering for Johnny's birthday, where the normally diplomatic Cara who has concussion throws the cat amongst the pigeons by spilling the beans on everybody's dirty little secrets. The rest of the book then describes what led to all these secrets and then the aftermath where relationships inevitably fall apart. Although it is a big book (and probably could have been shorter), like all Marian Keyes books, it was a breeze to read and never dragged, mainly because there were so many angles to explore and different characters to get to know. It also touches on many subjects including infidelity, addiction, honesty in relationships, insecurity, self esteem, body image, grief and jealousy as well as Ireland's treatment of refugees. A big, entertaining book, perfect for cosy winter reading or long summer days on the beach.
With many thanks to Penguin Random House and Netgalley for a copy to read.
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.
EXCERPT: When Rory died, Jessie's one consolation was that she'd never again have to live through something as bad. Her Dad's passing was painful. Her mother's was worse. The wound of having been cut out of the Kinsella inner circle had taken a while to heal. Giving up on having a sixth child had, for a patch, been oddly unbearable. But nothing had ever come close to the visceral punch of Rory ceasing to exist.
Over the years, whenever a big drama had blown up, her second or third thought was, I've already survived the worst thing that could happen.
It had made her feel safe. Almost lucky. But this - tonight - was as bad as Rory, that same light-headed combination of disbelief and stone-cold certainty: something terrible had happened. She didn't want it to be true, but everything had already changed forever. Once more, the jigsaw of her life had been thrown up in the air and she had no idea where the pieces would land.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: 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 . . .
Still, everything manages to stay under control--that is, until Ed's wife, Cara, gets a concussion and can't keep her thoughts or opinions to herself. One careless remark at Johnny's birthday party, with the entire family present, and Cara starts spilling all their secrets.
As everything unravels, each of the adults finds themselves wondering if it's--finally--the time to grow up.
MY THOUGHTS: I loved this mad book about this absolutely mad family. But it took me a little while to get there. About 20% of the book, in fact.
There is an absolutely wonderful cast of characters and paradoxically, they are one of the problems. Because there are a lot of them, and I struggled to keep them straight, who was married to whom, and where all the children belonged. Now, to be absolutely fair, there is a family tree, but because I have a digital ARC of Grown Ups, in which the formatting is less than wonderful, I couldn't make sense of it. But eventually I managed to get all the relationships straight in my mind.
Another thing that I adored about Grown Ups is the absolute Irishness of it. And there's another problem. It would be incredibly helpful to have a glossary of Irish terms, and a bit of a guide to pronunciation. Now, I live in New Zealand, so I am going to throw Ngaruawahia at you, and see how you get on with pronouncing that. My Australian husband, who has lived in New Zealand for fifteen years, still can't get his mouth around it! And I have similar problems with some of the Irish words, and particularly with the name Saoirse. I would be grateful if someone could enlighten me. But please don't leave them out Ms Keyes. They are an integral part of the character of this book.
But putting all that aside, this is a brilliant read. The writing is excellent (thanks for restoring my faith in you Ms Keyes), well paced, the plot absorbing and entertaining. I laughed and cried, and laughed and cried, and did both some more.
It is the characters that really drive this novel. Jessie, slowly bankrupting herself and husband Johnny with her largesse, frightened that if she doesn't pay for everything, the 'spensie' stuff, no one will love her. Cara, reservations manager at an exclusive hotel, married to Johnny's younger brother Ed, who hides a dangerous secret. Finally there is Nell, artistic and enviably comfortable in her own humanitarian and environmentalist skin, married to the youngest brother, Liam. Then there is a dead husband, the numerous children, an ex-wife (Liam's), parents, parents-in-law, ex-parents-in-law, cousins, friends, partners, business associates, Karl Brennan - who defies description, workmates, a barman named Gilbert and, no, on reflection, I don't think there was a milkman.
The book begins with Johnny's birthday dinner, and Cara's cataclysmic revelations. It then goes back six months and we learn of all the things leading up to the eruption.
There is love and lust, secrets and deceit, grief and loss, envy and just about any emotion you care to name. In summary, a novel about people living up to others expectations of them and, in doing so, losing sight of themselves and what is truly important.
'He'd had dementia and just faded away, like a picture left in the sun.'
'You get one precious life. Why not try to have a contented one.'
THE AUTHOR: 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.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Penguin Random House, Doubleday Canada for providing a digital ARC of Grown Ups by Marian Keyes for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage
This is the story of the Casey brothers, Johnny, Ed and Liam and their wives and families. Their parents as we learn later in the book, are cold and verbally cruel so it’s the biggest wonder they are able to function at all. It shines a spotlight on family secrets and grudges that are hidden for the sake of family and appearances. The secrets come spilling out at a family dinner party at the beginning of the book then it backtracks to where it all blurted out. There are some serious moments and some funny moments as you would expect from Marion Keyes.
I very much like that the children in the story are actually more grown up than the grown ups especially Liam who is beyond selfish. The standout child for me is Bridey who I think is hilarious and I love that she puts the adults in their place from time to time. A lot of the characters are very likeable, especially Nell who is Liam’s wife who the whole family love. The author is very good at creating good characters with witty repartee. The book does have some funny moments but it also features some very serious issues. Cara, Eds wife binges and is bulimic which she tries to hide with limited success. I think this part of the story is very well done. There are two characters that Nell introduces to the family who are asylum seekers from Syria. This is very thought provoking as Perla is Christian and a doctor so she challenges stereotypes. It also gives you a lot to think about in terms of what asylum seekers are and aren’t allowed to do in Ireland and it may very well be the same in the UK.
Whilst there is a lot I like about this book there are an awful lot of characters to get your head around and it took me a good while to sort everyone out. I also think it takes the story a while to really get going but once it does you see the point that Marion Keyes is making. The adults are not very grown up, they need to face reality and face their varying truths. The children are actually more grown up than they are. The end is good as Cara unwittingly forces them all to stop messing up their lives and embrace their problems and move on.
Overall, a bit of an uneven read at times but it has a good message and I did enjoy it.
I love an Irish setting, and this was a great one. I am reviewing months after completion but I am on a mission to get to all of my books.
This is a clever and funny read, it was too long ago to go into any detail, on looking back it seems I won this, and I don't even remember this being the case, oh dear. Lucky me to be sent this physical copy from the publisher.
I was interested in reading this one as the author has spoken freely on her addiciton history, and this makes me recall that eating disorders were a theme as well.
Other reviewers commented on the length, but I wasn't bothered by this. I love a family tale and Jessie being the stalwart of the family and the woman who pretends to have her meals lovingly prepared for and really paying a caterer were the least of the problems, but I did enjoy this read which was serious and fun at other times too.
I have many of this author's books sitting on my bookshelf at home, so this is a timely reminder to read some of them! If I don't stop adding books to my tbr mountain, that is.
GROWN UPS as you might guess, really showed what a mess grown ups can be. This was a family saga of epic proportions both in length of book but also in depth of shambled relationships and lives. This was definitely a less funny offering from Marian Keyes, but I wouldn’t have minded the lack of humour if the story had worked better for me.
The story centred on three families, brothers, wives and children. The brothers weren’t particularly close but the other people around them included some particularly strong personalities in Jessica, Ferdia, Nell and Liam. The character I probably liked the most was Nell but like is too strong a word, the rest of them I disliked or felt ambivalent about. I didn’t make connections with the characters as I had hoped at all.
The pacing of this story is somewhat slow, every element of the story was told in great depth, usually from multiple perspectives. So you can imagine that it takes 650 pages. This was like observing a slow motion house of cards collapsing over time. At the end, I did not feel wowed in any way or particularly satisfied at any of the outcomes.
I’m sad about this book, having read most of Marian Keyes books but you can’t like them all, I guess.
Thank you to Michael Joseph for the early review copy.
I am a big fan of Marian Keyes books and was delighted to receive a copy of her new book Grown Ups. This is a story of three brothers and their families. There are a lot of characters to remember and it took me a while to sort out where they fit within the family. Unfortunately I did not engage with any of the characters and sadly missed the humour that I usually find in Marian's books. Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK - Michael Joseph for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
Overall rating: I start at 5 stars (I read it, finished, enjoyed it (+1 star) and even was a bit obsessed by it in the process and afterwards which is a rare thing for me (+1 star)).
Now I remember why I loved Marion Keys' books: - Love how she is showing us a fragging lot of emotions that MCs entertain. And she does that all the time. (+1 star) - Spectacular shit hits the fan half the time for absolutely no reason. (+1 star) - There's this whole parade of MCs each of which have their own personality, quite developed, one that they aren't shy to demonstrate throughout the novel. Considering that I read a lot of experimental novels in all genres, this is a very good thing to find in a lot of novels since so many authors just skip it. (+1 star).
And why I don't read so many more of them: - They are do damn vivid. Right now I feel I know about the MCs' families way more than I ever wanted to know about any family at all. They do quotidian stuff in a way that's gonna stay with me for ages. (-1 star) It's irritating me as hell but that's me being my snarky self not the book's issue. (+1 star) - Drama. No, DRAMA! All the family drama they are having (without much reason!) is a bit mentally exhausting. (-1 star) - There's nothing much happening apart from some daily stuff sometimes blowing up spectacularly. (-1 star) - -1 star! It's like a sitcom on a mission to change the fact that I hate sitcoms. Overall final rating: 5 stars. Ta-da!
Q: ‘I’d kill to look even a tenth as cool as Nell, but there are more chemicals in my hair than in the whole of North Korea. If I add anything else, it’ll fall off in my hands.’ (c) Q: As daunting as the tsunami of food was this weekend’s compulsory sociability. (c) Q: ‘That’s twenty-first-century capitalism for you. People with degrees in the most developed countries on earth wish they could get work stacking shelves. (c) Q: ‘You could come home with me?’ She looked at him. All of a sudden she was sober. ‘Sorry.’ She felt awkward. ‘You’re nice. I like bad boys. I should have outgrown it because I’m thirty now, but it hasn’t happened.’ ‘You don’t know the first thing about me,’ he said. ‘I’m actually a headcase. I get my kicks parading around my bedroom in a gimp mask and wrestling jocks.’ (c) Q: Cripes, no wonder Ed felt like Mr Unimportant, sandwiched between a charm monster and a sex god. (c) Q: I know it’s a pain, me and my principles. Seriously, I get on my own nerves, but I’m not doing it to be sneery. (c) Q: ‘Your dress!’ ... ‘Acne?’ … ‘No, don’t tell me. Filippa K? One of the Swedish designers? I adore that oversized look.’ ‘Oxfam,’ ... ‘Probably an ex-hospital gown. If this dress could talk, well, the haemorrhoid operations we’d be hearing about.’... ‘You’re stunning.’ ... ‘You make everything your own. I wish I had your confidence.’ (c) Q: ‘She’s so capable,’ Jessie this time, ‘with that job of hers. But so beautiful and wild. And her clothes! Fabulous! I never know what to expect.’ (c) Q: ‘Principles? You’re hilaire. (c) Q: Momentarily the emptiness was unbearable. (c) Q: Everyone else had been loving life, living in the moment with the sunshine and the fresh air but she was only doing it because she wanted to be thin. (c) Q: Should you live each second to the full, grabbing every opportunity and making as many precious memories as possible? Or should you carefully salt resources away, having a comfortable buffer zone in place, in the event that disaster struck? It was impossible to decide, because you never knew what was coming down the tracks. (c) Q: People her own age had no hope in the future, but Liam came from a different world – or maybe a different time – where positive expectations were still allowed. Q: Well, it’s your life. And I like the chap –’ ‘He likes the chap,’ Angie said. ‘I like the chap too,’ Nell said. ‘We all like the chap,’ Angie agreed. (c) Q: When I grow up I might be a Jedi or a scientist or a – a postman. But now I’m only a kid so how should I know?’ (c) Q: Talking about Ed gave her the same feeling as unwrapping a beautiful piece of jewellery from its cushioned box and admiring its beauty. (c) Q: Has Vinnie set anything else on fire? No?’ Dorothy’s face fell. ‘But clearly he has spirit.’ ‘He certainly has.’ ‘And while he was doing it, at least he wasn’t on his screen.’ ‘You’re right, Mum. A nice outdoor activity, setting fires.’ (c) Q: ‘So terrified of her own ordinariness she has to surround herself with weirdos.’ Johnny chuckled, then abruptly remembered who he was talking to and snapped, ‘Don’t say that about your mother.’ (c) Q: Ed had a way with children. It was all to do with how he managed his energy, Liam saw. He slowed it right down to the speed of the child. There he was, patiently explaining what had gone wrong. If it had been Liam, he’d have grabbed the bat, seen it wasn’t fixable, then impatiently urged TJ to play another game, while he shifted his attention back to something that interested him. (c) Oh, wow. That's good. Q: There was a yearning in him, for – yeah – a holiday. Not one of their usual action-packed ones, but an actual rest, of sleeping and silence. (c) Q: If Camilla had done another poo, he was just going to get into his car and drive to Rosslare, board the ferry to France, disembark at Cherbourg and keep going across Europe until he ran out of land, then maybe just drive into the sea. (c)
There are approximately a million characters in this book, and complex relationships between family members and divorces and remarriages and friends—it was a little confusing along the way, but when I finished the book, I was sad to see this complicated clan go.
Most of the main characters have some fatal flaw. When Cara, wife of Ed, who is one of the three Casey brothers, gets a concussion, she suddenly reveals a whole of truth about the Casey family during a birthday dinner.
The novel goes back in time through different birthday parties and trips and family dinners to reveal secrets from different characters’ points of view. Keyes deals with some heavy topics like bulimia—much more like substance addiction than I previously realized—and refugees. The parents of the brothers are villainously awful, but everyone else was either mostly good or pretty bad although not completely irredeemable.
Please note that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
I honestly don't know what to say here. This did not read like contemporary Marian Keyes to me. The whole book was jumbled with too many characters and plots that it felt like I got a never ending story of a family I did not care about a whit. I also have to say that it's gross that we see two people in my eyes exploiting relationships with younger people in this one. I think that Keyes in some weird way was okay with the one relationship, and disgusted with the second. I thought they were both messed up. There also seems to be some discontent a bit here about eating disorders and I just don't know. The book as a whole had too much going on.
"Grown Ups" follows the Casey family. We have Johnny Casey and his wife Jessica and their kids (I refuse to remember them all except for Ferdia). Ed Casey and his wife Cara and their two sons. And finally Liam Casey and his new wife Nell. The family is doing a get together at a posh hotel and then after Cara is injured and reveals some secrets the family is never the same.
Unlike with previous Keyes books I didn't like one character. I mean, I was indifferent to Ed and Cara, but I outright disliked Jessica and loathed Liam and Nell. "The Brightest Star in the Sky" by Keyes followed a lot of people too, but it held together much better in my opinion than this.
The book starts off with some of the reveals and then jumps back in time to weeks earlier and then to the present day and it just go so confusing after a while I started to give up trying to work things out. Since I had an ARC, there were a ton of typos and that made me tracking sentences and who was speaking problematic too.
The ending...once again we only get a real resolution with one of the above couples, we can guess about the other two I suppose. But seriously this book read as unfinished. It definitely needed tighter editing. And the cast of characters needed trimmed down a lot.
I am a big fan of Marian Keyes but had read quite a few mixed reviews about this book. Yes, it is quite lengthy but I was so disappointed when it finished. Enjoyed every minute of this book! There are three Casey men, Johnny who is married to Jessie with 3 daughters and 2 step children from when Jessie was married to his best friend Rory. Then there is Ed who is married to Cara, and has two boys. They appear to have the perfect marriage but not all is at it appears. Then there is Liam who is married to his second wife Nell. They are a beautiful couple who appear to be cool and living the life. The story starts out with a concussed Cara who uncharacteristically tells the family the unfiltered truth at a dinner party. We than go back a few months and the lead up to this dinner is told. The story is laugh out loud funny in most places but has its fair share of heartache too. I have already recommended this book to a few people and I am sure that they will not be disappointed. Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Random House Canada for the opportunity to review this fabulous book.
Grown-Ups was my first Marian Keyes novel and a massive 642 pages long! I found the relationship dynamics entertaining in this family drama and the story held my attention as I raced through to find out more.
The Casey’s spend a lot of time together, whether they like it or not. The Casey’s include three brothers, Johnny, Ed and Liam, their three wives and children.
Johnny’s wife, savvy businesswoman Jessie has heaps of money and she loves to splurge and have all the families get together on luxury holidays and weekends away. She always insists when costs are out of reach to fund them. Jessie was a single child and loves being surrounded by family.
The characters in this story are expertly written, like most families they have their flaws and their dysfunctional members. Sadly the three Casey brothers came from an unloving home.
During a family event everything drops out of control. Cara, Ed’s wife who has had a knock on the head and is suffering from concussion is spilling out too many secrets as she loses the ability to keep her thoughts to herself. The family are torn as confronting secrets are exposed.
I found this book to be an enjoyable, engaging, witty and sometimes dark family drama with a focus on addictions, denial, deception, insecurity and love.
I wish to thank Better Reading & the publisher Penguin Michael Joseph for an advanced copy of the book in return for an honest review
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
The story is about the three Casey brothers, their wives and assorted children. The families spend a lot of time together (Easter etc) but there are tensions simmering under the surface, second marriages, truculent teenagers, step-siblings, fears of inadequacy, etc.
Johnnie and Jessie Casey own their own business but seem to be running into monetary difficulties which Jessie is resolutely ignoring while she pays for the entire family to spend the holidays together at a swanky hotel.
Cara is married to Johnnie's brother Ed. She's Jessie and Johnnie's accountant and desperately tried to rein in their spending. She's also crippled by her own lack of self-esteem and an unhealthy relationship with food.
The third brother is Liam, this is his second marriage and he won't allow his (younger) second wife Nell to interact with the children from his first marriage. Nell is unconventional and has drawn the attention of some of her teenager nephews.
Unfortunately I just couldn't seem to distinguish one family from the other or get their relationships straight - frankly writing this I am surprised there are only three couples because it felt like a lot more. I tried with this book I really did, I have loved Marian Keyes since I read the Walsh family series (before it was called the Walsh family) back in the late-1990s and I really enjoyed The Break when I received an ARC but I just couldn't get to grips with this at all.
So after my second or third attempt (and twenty-five chapters) I gave up.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
They're a glamorous family, the Caseys. Johnny, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together. 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?
I am always impressed when a book is over 600 pages and yet doesn't feel like it's an effort to read; the best sign of an engaging storyline. The novel starts at the dinner party where Cara is letting secrets fly after getting a knock to the head. It then jumps back in time to six months prior so the majority of the book is about the lead up to the party rather than the aftermath. I learnt some Irish slang (is slang the best term for it?), i.e. if someone tells you that you're gas, that means you are funny. Of the three brothers and their wives, Liam fast becomes the unlikable one whereas his wife Nell sounded amazing. Johnny seemed kind but a bit absent and distracted to me while his wife Jessie was an utter powerhouse who was extremely generous with her money. Ed and Cara were probably the most 'normal' couple to me with their middle class family and seeming solid but an underlying secret threatens their happiness. When I picked up this one I was ready for a juicy family drama and this novel certainly delivered! I'd happily recommend this book.
Whew!! 656 pages of absolute, non stop drama! I will admit that I have liked this more than I thought I would. Initially, I wasn't too sure but by the mid-way mark, I found myself becoming guiltily curious about how the story of the huge Casey family would pan out. It was 656 pages of Keeping Up With The Caseys...not one dull moment!
I received an e-Arc of the book from the publisher Penguin Random House Canada/Double Day Canada and author via NetGalley.
This is my 16th book by Marian Keyes, and it sometimes feel like we have progressed through the same stages of life together, starting out as young single girls, then getting married, having babies and now having to deal with extended families and complicated relationship issues.
One of the best things about this author's novels is that she can tackle serious issues like bulimia, depression and alcoholism, educating us and showing us the gravity of these subjects, but doing so with a sense of humor.
I've seen a few reviews that complained about the quantity of characters in this novel - 7 POV's, but maybe because I listened to the audible version, I never had a problem with this. In fact, I though she did a brilliant job creating all these unique voices, most of them balanced. The one character that had no redeeming qualities, really got under my skin, as he is the type of villain that actually exist in real life.
I was sad when the book ended, as I wanted to spend more time with this family. Now the count down starts to her next release. Highly recommended.
I just love family dramas but big books scare me and weighing in at 656 pages Grown Ups is a big book. I’m happy to say though that I flew through this book. It was endlessly entertaining and no time did it become bogged down.
The Casey clan deliver an endless amount of drama and quite a few laughs. Johnny Casey is married to Jessie and they have five children. Saorise and Ferdia are from Jessie’s first marriage. Ferdia tall, dark and handsome despises his step-father and makes sure everyone knows it. Their other three children are outspoken and precocious, in a cute charming way. Ed Casey is married to Cara who has body image issues and a serious chocolate craving. Liam Casey is newly wed to his second wife Nel, a young and vibrant humanitarian, 11 years his junior.
Told in multiple points of view Keyes knows how to bring out her characters flaws and insecurities, laying them bare but in turn making then more likeable and relatable.
Jessie wants them to be one big happy family and goes to great lengths and expense to arrange family holidays which cause all their insecurities to blow out of proportion.
Keyes explores the different types of connections adults have with their parents, the idea that marriage has to be worked at with open communication. The introduction of Syrian refugee, Perla, to the family gives an opening to explore the rights of refugees and their struggle to start a new life.
Everyone appears to have a secret and in the prologue there is a hint of the secrets that Carla reveals at a family dinner. This certainly hooked me in! The story then goes back six months and builds month by month to the big moment when everyone’s secrets are revealed and the entire family implodes.
This book is witty and humorous whilst at the same time has some powerful themes on the dynamics of family, marriage and body image.
Grown Ups is everything I've come to expect from Marian Keyes: a lively, fast-paced, and moving story of an Irish family and all of their entwined stories. I adored the story of Cara, struggling bulimic and her work in the hotel industry, her worries about her finances plus those of her husband's brother's, whose wife Jessie was a superwoman who was super stressed, super anxious, and utterly overwhelmed by keeping up appearances of "having it all," and then, finally, my favorite, lovely Nell, a newly married set designer in the small world of theater who was learning her new husband was not, in fact, the man of her dreams, but that his family was marvelous. The various dramas were all well done but in addition to adoring Cara's story, I *loved* Nell's. I actually cried (yes! I did! It was great to be so enraptured!) at the end, for Nell, who'd come so far and been such a force of good for herself and her in laws family, especially her doomed romance with someone else in the family.
Marian Keyes's books are hard to find in the United States now, although she did have a lot of her backlist published here at one point, and so Grown Ups may be a bit harder to find but it's worth it. It's so, so worth it! Absolutely wonderful, absolutely recommended, and one of the best books I've read in 2020.
I have been a fan of Marian Keyes for a long time. While her latest novel is told in her signature writing style, the book itself was just too drawn out for me. It took me awhile to get through this one and I found the pacing to be very slow. There were too many characters to really care about any of them and I found it hard to keep them all straight. The Casey’s were a highly dysfunctional although hilarious at times family. There were a couple characters that were really likable but I just felt like nothing ever REALLY happened in the book. The book did pick up near the end which got me to the finish line.
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I had slightly mixed feelings when NetGalley approved me for Marian Keyes new novel Grown Ups which isn’t out until February next year. I’m a big fan of Keyes’ work, her deceptively light style, combining a laugh out loud humour with searing insight and moments of real emotional punch, and her talent for unreliable narration and slow reveal which can turn a book, and your feelings about it, on their head within just one sentence. Her last novel The Break was a perfect example of this, up there with the superlative Rachel’s Holiday as books which should — and probably would if they were written by a man — transcend whatever divide there is between popular and ‘literary’ fiction. So, although I was pretty sure I’d enjoy Grown Ups, I knew it was a lot to ask for any book to follow The Break. I needn’t have worried…
Warning: do not, like I did, start to read this book when you’re on any kind of deadline. What I wanted to do was build a blanket and cushion fort on the sofa, surround myself with snacks, make space for the dog and not surface until I finished it. Instead, I had to combine it with a deadline, the day job, and the occasional spot of parenting. However, this meant that instead of glommimg it in one day I managed to make it last three.
Grown Ups starts at a birthday dinner. The Caseys are a family who get together a lot, often whether they like it or not. Jessie, married to Johnny Casey, is an only child and therefore likes to keep not only her own five children but her husband’s brothers and their wives and children close, with lavish hospitality and holidays to bind them close. But at this dinner, tensions are running high as months of secrets simmer hotter than the soup. Cara, married to Johnny’s younger brother Ed, starts to blurt out those secrets thanks to a concussion sustained earlier, and as a result of just a few blunt statements Jessie’s, Johnny’s and the whole family’s lives start to unravel. The narrative then takes us to Easter six months earlier and then through several key family events until we arrive back at the dinner and then beyond, following those events from multiple viewpoints, carefully unveiling secrets as it goes.
Keyes captures brilliantly the impossible paradox of being a 21st-century grown-up, furiously trying to keep up, pretending you know what you’re doing, never feeling like you’re enough, parenting children brought up in a world it’s difficult to understand, and sometimes just wishing someone else would sort it all out for you. The three brothers, products of an unloving home, are all messed up in different ways. Johnny covers up his insecurity with charm and good nature, aware that to many people he’s just superficial. Ed’s a nice guy, but is his niceness enabling the secrets tearing apart his marriage? And Liam? Liam’s an arse. The question is, what on earth does the lovely Nell see in him? Meanwhile Jessie hides her bone deep insecurity through lavish hospitality and spending, and refusing to look into the future, Cara is equally in denial, risking her marriage and health in the process. Finally Jessie’s eldest son Ferdia has to go through the painful process of growing up, throughout the novel moving from rude, entitled youth to a compassionate and promising young man (and dangerously sexy with it).
Grown Ups is populated by cast of three-dimensional characters, alive in every way. Every person from six year old knowingly precocious Dilly to the Casey brothers’ father is perfectly drawn even if only on the page for a couple of sentences. It’s hard not to read Grown Ups and see your own insecurities spread down the page: money, body image, family, the future, friends, likeability, making the right choice. It’s a compulsive read, funny and dark and knowing like the best of Keyes’ work and I absolutely didn’t want it to end. In fact, I absolutely want a Walsh sisters-type sequel please. Highly highly recommended.
Where do I start? I won't lie. When I first picked up this book at 633 pages long I shuddered. I struggle with long books. But I knew that it was Marian Keyes and I knew it had to be worth it. And the first few chapters, although the writing was typical Keyes, I was wondering if I could make it through. With so many characters I found it hard to grasp who was who, who was related, who was married, who all the kids belonged to. Thank goodness for the family tree at the beginning of the book! And then, as if by magic, as if Marian herself knew that this was the point to ramp up the pace and hook the reader before they turned away, it got me. It was like everything clicked and I knew the Caseys. I couldn't stop reading. I had to know what was going to happen. I was 110% invested in everything. My emotions were all over the place - I felt all the feels! And it just continued to grow. And I didn't care how long the book was, I didn't want it to end. I wanted to be a fly on the wall with the Caseys for the rest of my life! And then, after a binge reading session til 2am in the morning, with twenty pages to go, I stopped. Because I didn't want it to be over. I wanted to wake up the next day (that day) and still be in their lives. So I did. The next morning I savoured those last few pages, slowly and deliberately. And they were the best pages of the novel. Then, through glassy eyes, it was over. And I was sad. But I was happy too. But mostly sad, as I just wanted to give them all (well, most of them) a big hug and tell them never to leave. If you didn't guess, I loved it. A full-figured 5 stars from me.
The Times describe this book as 'a blizzard of wit and wisecracks' – I found it anything but. I think the problem here is that Keyes tried to cover too many issues, resulting in a massive book of over six hundred pages that needs heavy cutting and tightening. I couldn't empathise with any characters, finding them somewhat clichéd except perhaps for Nell, which is a shame, because there are rare glimpses that, with further editing, this could have been an interesting story. As it stands, however, I found Grown-Ups to be a tedious and disappointing read.
Comedy is such a difficult concept to define. I read a recent Tumblr post about how it's much easier to portray negative emotions than it is positive ones (like humour and love), because - in summary - everyone knows what anger feels like and it feels the same for all of us. On the other hand, there's no single thing that everyone finds funny. At her best, I would call Keyes wry and ironic. She's able to capture people acting in ways that are silly and frustrating in the framing of a sitcom. It doesn't make the actual actions in themselves funny. She's the camera panning back on the set, not the character having to suffer the slings and arrows of familial banter.
In this book, as in the Break, she over-burdened herself with characters, plots, and Issues. She was always notable for picking one Issue and making it into the theme (alcoholism; miscarriage; domestic abuse; cancer). Now, as one of Ireland's leading activists as well as novelists as well as famous figures, she's got a lot of plates spinning.
The problem is that she wants to write about young people falling in love, which is what all romance writers write about. In Ireland, young people are knee-deep in a housing crisis where they can't afford to move out of home or buy themselves. There's lots of cultural shit around this, including the Irish panic to buy property instead of rent it that probably has a lot to do with having been under the heel of an invading power for 700 years. But Keyes came of age when chicklit was about heroines who wanted hot men, fancy shoes, and nice handbags, in that order. It's hard to write a romance about people who can't afford to move out of their childhood bedroom in that mindset.
And so we get Nell and her fractured Cinderella plotline. Her father has a reasonable painting and decorating business, but it's never suggested that she could join that instead of pursuing a tentative career as a set designer ... in Dublin. (Just for context: the Irish population is, total, four million. So, like, one suburb of London.) Her counterpart Ferdia wants to be a social worker and has professionally-no-bueno visible tattoos, but also lives in his parents' mews in Foxrock.
The amount of balls dropped with these two characters alone is phenomenal, but they are just two in a cast of thousands. How about Jessie, Ferdia's mother, a made-good from the country who now lives in Foxrock? We never once see how the established families of D4 react to that particular invasion. (Sidenote: I am pretty tired of the writers of Ireland acting like the Dublin V Everyone Else thing isn't a thing. IT'S A FUCKING THING.) Why didn't Jessie actually dislike, resent, and misunderstand Nell? Why isn't she pitted as the Sheriff of Nottingham against Robin Hood? Probably because we're too busy dealing with Cara's eating disorder and Liam's taste for too-young women (is it paedophilia? Or just men being gross? Who knows, no time to discuss!) and Saoirse's self-esteem issues and TJ's gender identity and Canice's bad parenting and Johnny's emasculation and Ed's enabling! (AND THAT'S NOT EVEN ALL THE CHARACTERS.)
Just, like. There's four books' worth of material here. None of it got a good airing. Sometimes that borders on offensive.
There's also too many locations. Way, way too many. And the inciting event, depicted in the blurb, isn't. A small criticism but a valid one; there was only one major 'revelation' at the dinner party, which was well on its way to being revealed by the perpetrators themselves.
Yet there's flashes of the old-style Keyes buried in here. See:
"'Earlier you called me skinny. But I'm just lean. Muscle, plenty of it.' That made her smile. 'I had to do a medical for my job. They measured me with a machine. I'm thirty-one percent muscle. That's quite a lot.' A ball of warmth radiated from her stomach. He was so cute. 'I could take off my shirt and show you?'"
She was really, truly, superlatively good in the early parts about Cara and eating. I know this because I know a lot about Marian Keyes (she's a popular choice for a fluff piece in Irish papers), but Keyes has struggled with her weight as well as her drinking and mood. Even before being woke about such things was popular, she was exceptional at describing - in a funny, forgiving way - what it's like to be a woman surrounded both by chocolate and images of airbrushed models. If this was just a story about Cara developing bulimia, it would have been really good. But there's just not enough time or space for it.
Similarly, although Keyes is primarily a writer of women, she's actually very good about the difficult bits of being a man, too. I really wanted to see more of Johnny struggling with being the dashing, casual raconteur everyone expects him to be. I wanted her to sculpt more of Ed falling in love with Cara because she made him feel safe. If she'd limited herself to just one or two storylines, my word, what a book this might have been.
(It does seem to be a trajectory, though! Robin Hobb wrote six excellent books followed by nine mostly terrible ones. GRRM, three good, two awful. Terry Pratchett had a tailing comet of jumbled messes. Fiona Walker wrote four tightly constructed Jilly Cooper-esque delights and the rest fell apart. I suspect that once you reach a certain retail success, the focus is on getting another book out while you have enough name recognition for people to buy on the strength of it. As opposed to, you know, editing. Which, in terms of the longer-term impact on reputation and longevity, is an awful shame.)
I profoundly disliked this novel. I found it long-winded and tedious. There were parts that were good: Jessie’s little girls were funny and I enjoyed the Nell/Ferdia sub-story. But the execution of it all was very haphazard. It was like a sculptor presenting a giant marble slab as his finished piece; a marble slab without much carving at all - so the viewer cannot appreciate any order or semblance of a shape within it. The beginning was extremely slow (there was no ‘plot’ in the first half) and then the ending was rushed - there was a frustrating tempo throughout. I really wanted to love this and expected to since I very much enjoyed the author’s previous novel. I can appreciate a lot of work went into this but, overall, it felt “not ready yet”. It felt like a story in need of serious chopping and polishing to become compelling!