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The Adults
Cover of The Adults
The Adults
A Novel
"If Love, Actually and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation are your two favorite holiday movies, you're going to love The Adults."—Bustle
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY REAL SIMPLE • "Sometimes a nasty family comedy is just what you need for the holidays."—Entertainment Weekly
Meet The Adults.
Claire and Matt are no longer together but decide that it would be best for their daughter, Scarlett, to have a "normal" family Christmas. They can't agree on whose idea it was to go to the Happy Forest holiday park, or who said they should bring their new partners. But someone did—and it's too late to pull the plug. Claire brings her new boyfriend, Patrick (never Pat), a seemingly sensible, eligible from a distance Ironman in Waiting. Matt brings the new love of his life, Alex, funny, smart, and extremely patient. Scarlett, who is seven, brings her imaginary friend Posey. He's a giant rabbit. Together the five (or six?) of them grit their teeth over Forced Fun Activities, drink a little too much after Scarlett's bedtime, overshare classified secrets about their pasts . . . and before you know it, their holiday is a powder keg that ends where this novel begins—with a tearful, frightened call to the police.
What happened? They said they'd all be adults about this. . . .

Praise for The Adults

"A delectable premise . . . Hulse skewers her characters uproariously, zeroing in on every quirk, and she humanizes them, too."Entertainment Weekly

"The ending is worth every page turned in this funny, redeeming wade through the rough tide of blended family."San Francisco Chronicle

"Caroline Hulse's farcical debut is an ode to the big personalities and drama you find in families—unconventional and not."Real Simple

"This wry holiday novel will make you chuckle and remind you that nobody's family is perfect. If you've ever sat through an awkward family dinner (who hasn't?), you'll relate so hard."HelloGiggles
"Brilliantly funny."Good Housekeeping (UK)
"Razor-sharp comedy."—Sunday Mirror
"If Love, Actually and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation are your two favorite holiday movies, you're going to love The Adults."—Bustle
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY REAL SIMPLE • "Sometimes a nasty family comedy is just what you need for the holidays."—Entertainment Weekly
Meet The Adults.
Claire and Matt are no longer together but decide that it would be best for their daughter, Scarlett, to have a "normal" family Christmas. They can't agree on whose idea it was to go to the Happy Forest holiday park, or who said they should bring their new partners. But someone did—and it's too late to pull the plug. Claire brings her new boyfriend, Patrick (never Pat), a seemingly sensible, eligible from a distance Ironman in Waiting. Matt brings the new love of his life, Alex, funny, smart, and extremely patient. Scarlett, who is seven, brings her imaginary friend Posey. He's a giant rabbit. Together the five (or six?) of them grit their teeth over Forced Fun Activities, drink a little too much after Scarlett's bedtime, overshare classified secrets about their pasts . . . and before you know it, their holiday is a powder keg that ends where this novel begins—with a tearful, frightened call to the police.
What happened? They said they'd all be adults about this. . . .

Praise for The Adults

"A delectable premise . . . Hulse skewers her characters uproariously, zeroing in on every quirk, and she humanizes them, too."Entertainment Weekly

"The ending is worth every page turned in this funny, redeeming wade through the rough tide of blended family."San Francisco Chronicle

"Caroline Hulse's farcical debut is an ode to the big personalities and drama you find in families—unconventional and not."Real Simple

"This wry holiday novel will make you chuckle and remind you that nobody's family is perfect. If you've ever sat through an awkward family dinner (who hasn't?), you'll relate so hard."HelloGiggles
"Brilliantly funny."Good Housekeeping (UK)
"Razor-sharp comedy."—Sunday Mirror
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter 1

    Matt had known about the trip for months before he dropped it into conversation.

    Matt didn't deliberately keep things from Alex; he just dealt with complicated thoughts like he dealt with his post.

    When letters landed in the hallway, Matt stepped over them or, when they could no longer be ignored, crammed them into any nook he could find. Next to the cooker, on the bookshelf; the letters went anywhere that was easy-reach and tucked away and—most important—had no established retrieval system.

    Hence, Matt absolved himself from any sense of urgency and, if the sender tried to contact him again, Matt seemed (and, Alex came to realize, actually was) genuinely surprised the issue hadn't just gone away.

    Within weeks of Matt moving in, Alex had piles of envelopes in places in her house where there had never been piles before.

    After the first few times she spent pulling envelopes out of what had once been—unappreciated at the time—empty nooks, Alex gathered the letters all together one afternoon. She laid them out in a Hansel-and-Gretel trail from the front door to the kitchen table.

    Matt came to find her in the bedroom, cradling the letters in his arms. "All this post is mine, Al? Really?"

    "I thought I'd put the letters in one place. Make it easy for you."

    Matt shrugged, the letters lifting with him. "I don't get the point of post. Who do they expect to read post nowadays?"

    Weeks later, the nooks had filled up again.

    The night Matt told her about the trip, Alex had made a pie—everything from scratch. Except the pastry: Alex wasn't made of time. At the age of thirty-seven, she still felt like whenever she cooked an actual meal, it was a notable event: that she deserved some kind of award for not just pouring milk onto cereal.

    Alex was washing up after tea when Matt came to find her. He loitered in the doorway, like it had occurred to him to come downstairs on a whim and he hadn't yet decided whether he was staying.

    "So. You know what I said about Claire's idea for Christmas?"

    Alex glanced round. "No."

    He widened his eyes. "I definitely haven't mentioned it?"

    "You definitely haven't."

    Matt blew his dark fringe out of his eyes, as he did twenty times each day. His hairline was impressively youthful for thirty-eight and Alex suspected he might have cultivated the habit to accentuate it. He might have, he might not. Alex meant to ask someone who'd known him longer. Not that it mattered—but Alex was a scientist. Once she'd developed a hypothesis, she wanted to test it. Alex liked her facts clean, boxed.

    "God, I'm useless, Al."

    Alex peered at the glass in her hand, checking for soapsuds so she didn't have to reply.

    Matt stayed in the doorway behind her, but reached out to stroke her arm. "I suppose I didn't know how to bring it up. I thought you might get mad."

    Noting the seamless change of approach from "I thought I'd mentioned it" to "I didn't know how to bring it up," Alex unpeeled her washing-up gloves and flopped them over the drainer. She turned to face Matt. "Am I about to get mad?"

    Matt gestured for her to step toward him. He put his arms around her waist. "Understandably mad, of course." He kissed her forehead. "Completely justifiably mad. Not crazy psycho mad."

    This did not bode well. "Go on."

    "So you know I haven't spent Christmas with Scarlett since Claire and I split up."

    Alex nodded. "Have we got Scarlett this year? I'd like that."

    "No, it's . . . ​Claire wants us to go on a weekend away together."

    Alex took a beat to process this....
About the Author-
  • CAROLINE HULSE spends most of her days writing, having fulfilled her dream of having a job she could do in pyjamas. She also works in Human Resources sometimes. She is openly competitive and loves playing board and card games. She can often be found in casino poker rooms. She lives with her husband in Manchester, England.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    September 15, 2018

    Coparenting is difficult any time of year, but trying to create a happy, memorable Christmas for seven-year-old Scarlett leads Claire and Matt to make seriously questionable choices. No one remembers who suggested the trip to family fun park Happy Forest, but both parents, their new partners, their daughter, and her imaginary friend Posey, a large purple rabbit, are all set to spend the holiday "having fun" together, or not? All the characters are genuinely likable and relatable, especially in their flaws. VERDICT A snappy writing style and changing viewpoints make the pages of this debut fly by as readers will want to know what happens next.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    September 15, 2018
    A very bad idea for a holiday vacation turns out even worse than expected for a bunch of Brits.Claire, a bouncy, put-together blonde, and Matt, a lovable slacker and committed pothead, haven't both gotten to spend Christmas with their daughter, Scarlett, since they divorced. (Funny how that happens.) Somehow they come up with the brilliant idea of dragging their new live-in partners to a ticky-tacky "holiday park" called Happy Forest--"Our carefully planned world is your oyster"--for a shared vacation. Claire is now with Patrick, an uptight, insecure, self-centered bore. Matt is now with Alex, a nerdy but rather sweet laboratory scientist. Scarlett, 7, the beloved offspring, also brings someone along--her giant, paranoid, imaginary rabbit friend, Posey. This recipe for disaster begins with the transcript of a 999 call, the British equivalent of 911: "Woman: Get them to hurry. There's so much blood. Operator: When you say he's been shot, what has he been shot by? What can you see? Woman: An arrow. An archery arrow." We then follow both the progress of the vacation from Day 1 and the transcripts of various police interviews conducted after the incident as we amble toward the revelation of who shot whom and what's going to happen after these poor people get out of Happy Forest. The best takeaway from this book is in the form of new entries for your British slang dictionary, particularly the evocative "bell end." Hulse, in her U.S. debut, manages to insert the full Google definition in the text, exactly the one we had just looked up on our phone.A bit too heavily staged, but with good dialogue and some nice farcical moments.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 24, 2018
    Hulse’s stellar debut follows an ill-fated trip to a Christmas-themed resort in North Yorkshire, which friendly divorced couple Matt Cutler and Claire Petersen take together for the sake of their seven-year-old, Scarlett. Tension ensues when they elect to bring along their reluctant significant others. Since Matt and Claire split two years ago, Scarlett has relied on her imaginary friend, a rabbit named Posey, to express her negative feelings. Scarlett and Posey are convinced that Matt’s scientist girlfriend, Alex Mount, kills animals for fun, and their fear is compounded when they witness Alex put a wounded pheasant out of its misery. Scarlett gets along better with her competitive stepdad, Patrick Asher, though he’s so tightly wound and concerned about what others think that Claire can’t be herself around him. Patrick misses his own children, and is repulsed by Matt’s relaxed, happy-go-lucky nature, baffled about what Claire ever saw in him. As the trip progresses, he and Alex are both thrown by how well the exes get along and start to feel jealous. From the outset, readers learn that someone is shot during an archery session, and the circumstances of the incident unfold gradually and naturally. Hulse does an excellent job building her characters, consistently increasing tension by placing them in close quarters and letting their different personalities clash. This debut is the whole package­: realistic, flawed characters placed in an increasingly tense situation, resulting in a surprising, suspenseful novel.

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