Monday, January 9, 2017

Review of "Behind Closed Doors" by B.A. Paris

Grace and Jack Angel appear to be an almost perfect couple, deeply in love and happy to spend every spare moment together. In fact Grace can't take a single step without being dogged by Jack, and it soon becomes clear that something is very much "off" between them. The reader learns that Grace is essentially Jack's prisoner, out of fear he'll do harm to her sister Millie - a 17-year-old with Down Syndrome.

The story alternates between the present and the past. In the present, we see that Grace is forced to dress, socialize, prepare meals, keep house, vacation, etc. according to Jack's dictates. Grace is confined to the house when Jack goes to work and has no access to a phone or computer. When Jack and Grace go out or have guests, Jack doesn't leave his wife alone for a second, and she can't say a single word outside of his hearing.

Scenes from the past show us how things came to this point. Grace met Jack, a seemingly charming man, during an outing with Millie. Jack, a successful wealthy attorney, swept Grace off her feet. He convinced Grace to quit the job she loved and marry him, promising to welcome Millie into their home when she finishes school at eighteen. Things started to go downhill right after the wedding (or actually a little before).....and Grace can't see a way out.

"Behind Closed Doors" is very popular so I'm probably in the minority, but I didn't like this book very much. The story moves too slowly and has a claustrophobic feel, concentrating so much on every tiny interaction between Jack and Grace. It becomes tedious to read.

Also, the premise of the book is unrealistic and not believable. Imagine the amount of energy Jack has to expend monitoring every single thing Grace does, including bathing, dressing, undressing - even turning out her pockets for Jack's inspection. It's too much. Even if Jack's a psychopath, it would be exhausting for him.

Moreover, I couldn't buy the notion that a man can exert one-hundred percent control over his wife. With an ounce of guile Grace could go to the ladies room in a restaurant, borrow a cell phone, and call a friend - or the cops.

That said, I did admire some of the secondary characters. Esther, a dnner party guest, senses something wrong about the Angels and tries to help; and Grace's sister Millie is clever and sneaky (in a good way). I also liked the book's finale.

I can't wholeheartedly recommend this book but - if the premise intrigues you - it's worth checking out of the library. You might love it.

Rating: 3 stars