By Marian Keyes. (Doubleday, 560 pages, $24.)
The first chapter of Marian Keyes’ delightfully entertaining “Grown Ups” brings all of her many characters together at a dinner party. One person — Cara — is not well, and in her dazed state she begins revealing secrets left and right, big and small. Secret bank accounts, secret caterers for the Martha Stewart-like hostess, this person should not be a masseuse, that person should not have gotten a haircut.
You, the reader, will be totally lost. Too many people, too many bewildering secrets. But persevere. Trust me.
The book then takes you back in time six months, and then it slowly moves forward to the dinner party — a party that makes a lot more sense the second time around. Along the way, Keyes reveals drama, love affairs, betrayals, secrets and convoluted goings-on from multiple points of view and from multiple locations in Ireland and Italy.
There’s a handy family tree that eventually you will stop referring to as the characters and their relationships to one another finally click into place. And in the end, you will not want it to end, this sprawling, funny and very true-to-life (or perhaps only slightly exaggerated) novel of how we love and trick and deceive and help one another through life, the messiest journey of all.