Adults: Engrossing, frenetic read about life in your 30s

Book review: Emma Jane Unsworth puts laugh out loud smut right up beside poetry

Emma Jane Unsworth. Photograph: Dave Benett/Getty

Emma Jane Unsworth. Photograph: Dave Benett/Getty

Jenny Mc Laine, the narrator of Adults, is 35 and can hardly bear to live in the real world. Life is not abiding to The Grand Scheme. When we meet her, she is agonising over how to caption a picture of a croissant on Instagram. It’s about all she can cope with right now, an online performance of a life. She ignores texts from her mother and best friend, Kelly, only to keep one obsessive eye on a whimsical #livelaughlove influencer joyfully kicking up autumn leaves, “the rest of the world has fallen away around this small square of existence.”

Jenny has ignored Dorothy Parker’s wise advice, “Don’t put all your eggs in one bastard.” Her “hot thug” photographer boyfriend of seven years, Art, has left and she’s had to move lodgers in to pay the mortgage. Fans of Emma Jane Unsworth’s previous novel Animals could imagine Adults as existing in a similar universe, with wild days in your 20s gearing up to a perfect ending before disintegrating again. Her 30s are a world of “constant self-interrogation. Acquiring the courage to change what you can, and the therapist to accept what you can’t.”

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