The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn't work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.
I read this in one sitting, more or less. I had to put it down to get a train and thanks to travel sickness rearing its ugly head I had to wait to read it until I got home. It's probably just as well. Behind Closed Doors is one of the best books I have read in a while and it frightened the life out of me. Whilst reading it I couldn't settle, I had to keep getting up and walking about while continuing to read as Grace and Jack's story developed.
Grace and Jack are the perfect couple. They met, fell in love, had a whirlwind romance and got married. Jack accepted that Grace cared for her younger sister which made Grace fall for him even faster. Scratch the surface though and not everything is as it seems.
Alternating between past and present Behind Closed Doors paints a chilling portrait of domestic abuse, but the psychological kind - not physical, which to me is just as frightening and just as threatening. Using Millie as a means to control her everyone is awed by how amazing Grace is, the perfect hostess, the perfect wife, the perfect sister... She never goes anywhere though, and on the rare occasion she does you can guarantee Jack is not far behind. When a new couple are introduced into their social circle there is a subtle shift in power though. This coincides with Millie's upcoming 18th birthday - the day she will come to live with Grace and Jack. Grace is determined that this is never going to happen so starts to formulate a plan. What happens after that is a rollercoaster of emotions, mostly fear but also small glimmers of hope and the possibility that there might be a future for the sisters after all.
If you looked up fear, disturbed, terrifying and other similar words in the dictionary you would find perfect descriptions of Behind Closed Doors. This is one of the most disturbing books about psychological abuse I've read in recent years and I literally could not put the book down until I had finished it. It was painful to read the way Grace was treated, you could picture yourself in the same situation - locked in a tiny room, estranged from family and friends with nowhere to turn. The situation isn't helped by the irony of the fact that Jack is a prominent barrister specializing in domestic abuse cases!
This is the author's debut novel and if her first is this brilliant I look forward to reading whatever else she writes. The writing is both gripping and chilling. Jack as a character is one of the most manipulative and deceitful I've ever met, impossible to do do anything but hate and while I didn't like Grace to start with I soon warmed to her and her battle to survive, her willingness to sacrifice everything for Millie was heartbreaking. By the time I got to the last few chapters I was literally walking around whilst reading with my mouth hanging open, I could not sit still because I was terrified about how it was all going to end. All I will say about that is that even just a little faith in other people sometimes has the biggest rewards.
If you are looking for a page turner, a stunning debut, a perfect psychological thriller, then you probably won't get much better than Behind Closed Doors. I certainly won't forget this book for a long time and I already know it's in my list of top ten books for 2016.
Behind Closed Doors - B A Paris
ISBN - 9781848454125
Publisher - Mira
Release date - February 11 2016
Many thanks to Mira (Harlequin UK) via Netgalley for the review copy!