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Saturday, March 14, 2020


True blue Keyes fans will probably enjoy the book – however, I do not think this is the ideal novel to convert first-time Keyes readers into overnight fans. (Review by Fiona de Goede)

They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.  Under the surface though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much…”

After having that tantalising morsel dangled in front of my nose, I was looking forward to tackling Grown-Ups, the latest offering by one of my favourite chick-lit authors, Marian Keyes. This rather hefty tome, consisting of 630 pages, is rather daunting at the beginning – oodles of characters pop up left, right and centre in a seemingly never-ending stream of Caseys. Fortunately, a diagram of the Casey family tree helps with coming to grips of who is who.

The main characters are the three Casey brothers and their wives – a gaggle of offspring, grandparents and stepchildren add to the overall makeup of the clan.

One gets the impression that Johnny, Ed and Liam, despite being brothers, are not very fond of each other. Their parents are not exactly enamoured with their three boys – in fact, they are downright dismissive of the boys and one can only assume that this is the reason why Johnny, Ed and Liam became the men they turned out to be.

Then, of course, there are the three wives, Jessie, Cara and Nell. I felt that I got to see more of their characters and felt some empathy towards the predicaments they found themselves in. Jessie, in particular, tried very hard to be liked by everyone and threw money at every situation to “buy” approval and to be accepted by everyone. Cara battles with her own demons and it is very clear that her ambition to excel at her career is more important than her relationship with her husband. Nell is a free spirit, driven by her passion for her job as a set builder and she does not have a material bone in her body.

The author touched on various relevant issues that are current in society – the lot of asylum seekers, the unavailability of sanitary protection for women and eating disorders and the stigma attached to this illness. These are hefty topics but, in my opinion, are not given the deep consideration it deserves.

The slang language that crops up from time to time was a bit off putting – expensive translates to “spencie”, random to “rando”, non-judgmental becomes “non-judgey” and so on. Perhaps it is current Irish jargon with which I am not au fait.

I have read most of the 13 novels that Marian Keyes has written – in all of them I chuckled or laughed out loud at her humour and wit of which she has bucketloads. Her characters are always beautifully portrayed and fleshed out, their antics often hilarious and the situations in which they find themselves disastrous. This, unfortunately, was not the case with Grown Ups. It left me feeling quite cheated out of a good, typical Irish family saga which I have come to expect from the author.

Despite all of the above, true blue Keyes fans will probably enjoy the book – however, I do not think this is the ideal novel to convert first-time Keyes readers into overnight fans.

Grown-Ups is published by Penguin. ISBN 9780718179755. -  Fiona de Goede