This book isn’t quite what I expected. ‘The Grownup’ is written by Gillian Flynn and was published as a stand alone short story just last year, in the November of 2015. Realising it was written by the same author as Gone Girl, a book I believe I’ll be in love with until the end of my days, I bought it immediately without even pausing to read the blurb. As it turns out, I should have read the blurb. This isn’t a typical Flynn-esque domestic thriller like Gone Girl.
‘The Grownup’ is an interesting concoction of horror, psychological thriller and damn right weird. It opens with an explanation as to how the main character, who remains unnamed throughout the text, ends up working as a psychic-come-hooker. Hoping to break through into the ‘spiritual cleansing’ business, she makes a home visit to new client Susan Burke. Ready to sprinkle her lavender water around as a part of her con – from which she hopes to earn $2,000 – she enters Carterhook Manor. However, upon entering she finds that the house is full of noises an uncanny goings on. She too believes it is haunted…
For me this book had too many twists in too short a space of time. Had the story been longer (but yes I understand it’s called a short story for a reason) then I think Flynn would have had more time to execute her plot twists better. The last ten pages seem to completely undo everything and then undo everything again, leaving you with no time for the dust to settle before the story is over. I understand it’s meant to have a shock factor, that that’s the point, but I don’t think it works. I don’t like open endings so I certainly don’t like books that leave you just hanging there, dazed and confused.
My guess is that Flynn – or more likely Flynn’s publishers – wanted to have a new book out in quick succession of the film Gone Girl to make a little extra $$$. To do this they printed an old text, a short story that was originally published as part of an anthology edited by George R. R. Martin, as a stand alone piece.
Perhaps it’s just that this story shows signs of underdeveloped writing that I didn’t particularly like. I was expecting something comparable to Gone Girl but given this was written a long time before, before Flynn had a chance to hone both her writing and her story-telling ability, then I’m not surprised it is subpar. Expectation can be a dangerous thing.
The work of a good book is to still be thinking about it hours, days or even weeks after you’ve finished it, but perhaps not if all you’re thinking is ‘what the hell was that all about?’