I wouldn’t normally choose a short story to read but I was given The Grownup by Gillian Flynn as a present. I wasn’t overly taken with Gone Girl, with all the hype that surrounded it and the film I really did find myself asking “what did I miss?” I just wasn’t that taken with it. However, given the shortness of this book I thought I’d give it a go.
So what’s it about?
Our narrator is a young woman who is making a living offering hand jobs and pretending to be a psychic. When the opportunity to make some money doing a house cleansing comes up she jumps at the chance. However, the home of Susan Burke is not all it seems. Our storyteller faces stark questions: who should be trusted, Susan or her step-son Miles? Who is the absent father? And what is the true history to Carterhook Manor?
I would say this is a book of 3 parts. The first part is our scene setting. Flynn establishes the independent sexually liberated status of our narrator. We know that she’s learnt from a small age to read people in order to manipulate for her own gain…sound familiar? Written after Gone Girl there are definitely some similarities between our narrator and Amy.
The second part of the story moves away from the narrator and focuses on the supernatural story at the heart of the story. Blood running down walls, creaking old houses, a melancholy teenager terrorising his step-mum what is the cause and can it be ousted by sage and rosemary. I’m not a big fan of traditional horror stories, I can’t cope with the suspension and was a little bit wary about where The Grownup was going. I needn’t have worried. Just as the plot thickens, the original family all slaughtered in this house, threats of death and floorboards slicing fingers Flynn makes the decision to wrap it all up. I guess that’s one of the problems with a short story.
The wrap up, or 3rd part of the book is a twist within a twist with just another turn to keep you on your toes. From the way it pans out I think we’re meant to be left on the edge of our seats wanting to know who or what was behind the spooking of Carterhook Manor but in fact I found myself not really caring, which is never a good thing.
Given its success I thought maybe I was too quick to judge Gone Girl but now having read a second book my Gilliam Flynn I stand by original thoughts and will be adding this to the pile of “don’t bother, not worth it” books I’ve read.