Grown Ups by Marian Keyes (Penguin £8.99, 656 pp)

by Marian Keyes (Penguin £8.99, 656 pp)

The Casey brothers —John, Ed and Liam — had a difficult childhood but have always stuck together.

As they gather with their families to celebrate Johnny’s 49th birthday, they can look around the table with pride.

Johnny is married to entrepreneurial Jessie, who runs a successful chain of specialist food shops; unworldly Ed adores his wife, Cara, who works at an upmarket hotel in Dublin.

Even rakish Liam has settled down with a beautiful, much younger wife, Nell, a theatre designer.

The party is a happy family gathering until Cara suddenly speaks her mind, and every relationship unravels in an instant.

Keyes’s captivating 14th novel tackles difficult issues with a sparkling style that makes it impossible to put down.


A Little History Of Poetry by John Carey (Yale £9.99, 320 pp)

by John Carey (Yale £9.99, 320 pp)

As a schoolboy, Professor John Carey thought he might write poetry. Instead, he decided to study poets and their work, and he begins his bestselling history with a definition: ‘Poetry… is language made special, so that it will be remembered and valued.’

His poetic tour across the millennia ranges from Homer and Virgil to Dante, Chaucer and Shakespeare to the Romantic poets, including Keats and Shelley, and the great Victorians, Browning and Tennyson, concluding in our own times with Seamus Heaney and Maya Angelou.

Along the way, he offers literary insights and entertaining vignettes of poets’ turbulent lives.

As an introduction to poetry, and a reminder of its power to find beauty and consolation in almost every human experience, this anthology is a delight.

Jenny Offill’s highly praised second novel, Dept. Of Speculation, created an unforgettable portrait of a marriage in a mosaic of glittering short paragraphs.

Her latest novel, Weather, uses the same technique to explore the thoughts of Lizzie Benson, a New York librarian. She is married to Ben, a games designer; and their young son, Eli, is in the gifted and talented programme at his school.

Lizzie ‘used to have plans! Biggish ones’, but now her time is mostly taken up with worrying — about the odd pain in her knee, her brother, Henry, a recovering addict, climate change and the political weather.

A gentle flirtation with a war reporter, Will, brings a bittersweet note of wistful romance to this portrait of a wryly funny Everywoman who struggles to meet the demands of modern life. 

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