Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B. A. Paris: Book Review

It’s a cliché to say that no one knows what goes on in a marriage except the people inside it.  But clichés get to be clichés because there’s validity to them.  Some marriages look wonderful from the outside, with the couple always holding hands and never quarreling.  Other couples seems always to be on edge, never agreeing on anything.  That’s what we see on the outside.  What happens when the couple is alone?

Behind Closed Doors is narrated by Grace Angel.  Grace tells the story of her marriage to Jack with a series of flashbacks that lead up to the present.  In today’s parlance, they “met cute.”  Grace is in a park with her younger sister Millie, and Millie is dancing to the park’s band but without a partner.  Grace is aware that Millie is attracting the attention of people sitting on nearby benches or on the grass; Millie has Down Syndrome and can do things that make others uncomfortable.  So Grace is thrilled when an extremely handsome man walks over to her sister and begins to dance with her.

That is the beginning of Grace and Jack’s courtship, one that ends a few months later with their marriage.  Grace has promised her parents that she will take care of her sister, and her sister and their parents are counting on that.  It’s been the parents’ wish to retire to New Zealand without bringing their younger daughter with them, and it’s been understood for years that when Millie finishes her stay at school she will move in with Grace.  Now Grace is beyond thrilled that Jack insists that that is exactly what he wants too, that having Millie with them will make their lives perfect.

So Grace and Jack marry, and after their honeymoon they go to the house that Jack has built as a surprise for Grace.  It’s magnificent, she thinks, although a bit far from town and hidden behind iron gates.  But Jack explains that because of the sensitive nature of his work, his need for security is high.

That, however, is not the real reason for their solitude.  It gradually becomes clear that Jack is a control freak, or even more than that.  Grace is his prisoner.  He no longer permits her to work, she is not allowed to have lunch with anyone except him, and she is not permitted to answer the phone.  Swift punishment ensues for any deviation from his orders, and the punishments get more and more unpleasant.  And then Grace is told the true reason that Jack wants her for his wife.

Behind Closed Doors is an absolutely chilling mystery.  Beneath the surface of the perfect façade of their lives, perfect being Jack’s operative word, lie torment and fear.  You follow Grace’s descent from a confident, professional woman into a fearful, almost enslaved, one; every chapter makes you wonder how this can possibly end for her.  Trust me, this is not a mystery to read just before you go to bed.

You can read more about B. A. Paris at various sites on the web.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.

BEFORE WE MET by Lucie Whitehouse: Book Review

How much do you know about anyone, even the person you’ve married?  And what happens when his/her past isn’t what you expected?

Hannah and Mark are practically newlyweds, having been married only eight months.  They met in New York, where Hannah was working at the time, and he was on a business trip.  After their wedding she decides to move back to London, her birthplace, reluctant to have an international marriage; in doing so she is giving up a successful advertising career in Manhattan.

The company Mark started more than a decade earlier, DataPro, is doing extremely well, and although Hannah has been looking for work ever since she returned to England, they appear to be doing very well financially and have an extremely comfortable lifestyle.

As the novel opens Hannah is driving to pick up Mark at Heathrow Airport in London after his business trip to New York, but although his plane arrives he’s not on it.  Getting more anxious by the hour as Mark doesn’t return her phone calls, she finally hears from him the next morning.  He’s full of apologies for his no-show, citing business, and promises to return in three days.

But before Hannah had heard from him, she had called his assistant Neesha at DataPro, who was surprised that Hannah and Mark weren’t together.  When Neesha lets slip that she had thought they were spending the weekend in Rome, Hannah’s anxiety grows stronger.

Still disturbed, but also angry at herself for her worry/distrust, Hannah starts going through Mark’s personal papers in his home office. She knows where his papers are kept, but his personal file isn’t where she had last seen it.  Seeking to put her mind at ease, Hannah goes to his office to look for it.  She looks through his desk until she locates the file and is stunned to learn that Mark has just taken out a huge second mortgage on their home; he had told her the house was virtually mortgage-free.

Even more upsetting, toward the bottom of the file she discovers that her husband has closed all of his savings accounts.  Then there’s the final piece of paper:  her personal account, holding all of the savings she’d accumulated during her years in New York and which Mark had told her was strictly for her own use, has been cleared out.  From the £46,800 she’d deposited, only £29.02 remain.

Before We Met is the story of what seems to be a perfect courtship and marriage.  When Mark returns, he has an answer for every question that Hannah asks, but her uneasiness never completely goes away.  She realizes how little she really knows about her husband.  His parents are dead, he and his younger brother are estranged, all of the friends he has introduced her to are people he has recently met.  Is there more to his past than he has told her?

Lucie Whitehouse has written a true thriller, with an exciting plot and perfectly drawn characters.  The story is told from Hannah’s perspective in the third person, and we are totally aware of all her thoughts.  Her worries seem legitimate, but so do Mark’s answers to her questions.  And the more questions she asks, the more questions she has.

Lucie Whitehouse doesn’t have a web site of her own, but there are several posts about her on the Internet.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.