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Excerpt from The Adults by Caroline Hulse, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Adults

by Caroline Hulse

The Adults by Caroline Hulse X
The Adults by Caroline Hulse
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2018, 368 pages

    Nov 2019, 368 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Adrienne Pisch
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

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.”

Excerpted from The Adults by Caroline Hulse. Copyright © 2018 by Caroline Hulse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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