Published: August 9, 2016
Behind Closed Doors is the debut novel of B.A. Paris, reminiscent of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. It is a domestic thriller that one wants to plow through. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, needing to know the eventual outcome. I listened to the audio version of this and thought the narrator, Georgia Maguire, did a terrific job.
This book made me very uncomfortable, however. The narrative is from the perspective of a psychologically abused wife, Grace, whose husband, Jack, meant physical harm to the Grace’s younger sister with Down’s syndrome, Milly. Grace is literally imprisoned by her husband who derives pleasure from the fear he senses in his victims. She is locked in a room most of the time and cannot write emails or socialize unless under strict supervision of her husband. Although this book invokes some real truths of domestic abuse, it really goes way over the top. Jack, the psychopath, is absolute scum of the earth. It was mind-blowing to me that someone could dream up this scenario, and the harm he wishes to inflict on Milly.
I found that the novel required the reader to take several leaps of faith to allow the wife to fall into this situation. Jack and Grace have only a few short months of getting to know each other, and during this time have very little quality or intimate time. Jack asks Grace to quit her job, handover the money from selling her flat, and convinces Grace’s parents to move to New Zealand immediately after the wedding. He is whittling away her autonomy even before they are married. He does not like the idea of having Grace’s sister, Milly, in the wedding, and when Milly falls backwards down the stairs to the church (necessitating hospitalization for a broken leg), as he is walking alongside her, Grace is completely non-suspecting. The wedding proceeds despite this. Then, Jack disappears on their wedding night not to return until the next day just before their flight, sending a repugnant text message and then refusing to take Grace to visit Milly before heading to the airport as they had planned. And Grace still agrees to go to Thailand with him! These things were all hard to swallow!
However, once Grace is fully secured as his prisoner, and the mind games begin, it is rewarding to see Grace begin to win some of these games, and eventually come out as a survivor. It is also rewarding to find that Ester and Adam had connected the dots and would help her in the end.
In summary, for those who love a good edge of your seat thriller, you will probably really enjoy this. The writing isn’t spectacular and if you look closely, there seem to be flaws in the creation of the premise, but if you can let that go, it is enjoyable. Again, I thought Georgia Maguire did an excellent job with the audible version, so you might want to give that a go.
- The format of the book alternates between past and present. How does this add to the book?
- What clues are present prior to Jack and Grace’s marriage that Jack might be a psychopath?
- Do you think Grace falls in love with Jack before marrying him or just the idea of having a charming man who is accepting of her sister as well?
- Why do you think Grace is so vulnerable to Jack’s charms?
- How do the Jack and Grace appear to their friends?
- What key pieces of information does Ester pick up on?
- What tactics of domestic abuse does Jack employ in his dealings with Grace?
- How is Milly depicted in this novel? What are some key roles that she plays?
- Is the ending satisfying or were you hoping that Jack was found out publicly?
- What do you predict will happen in the aftermath of this novel? Will Grace be cleared?