Book review: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Thursday, March 2, 2017 Permalink

I’m a latecomer to this book which has been the subject of a lot of online discussion, in the same way Girl on a Train, Gone Girl and You did way back when. Everything I read and heard about it warned me the book was told from several unreliable viewpoints AND the end would be shocking and / or frustrating.

So I went in prepared…

Book review: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah PinboroughBehind Her Eyes
by Sarah Pinborough
Published by HarperCollins
on January 31st 2017
Source: Harper Collins
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 9780008131975
Pages: 376

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

The book is told in several timeframes but I actually think they could be a little clearer. Eventually the ‘then’ and ‘now’ become obvious but the chapters weren’t always labelled thus and I made the mistake of putting this book down (while I went to a readers’ convention) for almost a week… and had to start from scratch on my return (as I was confused).

We quickly meet the key players, Louise, David and Adele, though the book unfolds from the viewpoints of the two women.

Pinborough purposely keeps us in the dark, ery slowly eking out facts. It may surprise you to know that, even though I’m a control freak and into instant gratification, I’m okay with that approach. I know it’s a ‘thing’ and mostly think it’s clever…. so unless it means there are continuity issues or we feel we’re missing backstory (which was the case recently in a book or two) I’ve deemed it very acceptable. 🙂

I found it hard not to identify with Louise. Adele seemed conniving. Occasionally. It was hard to work her out (which is obviously the point). She had ulterior motives for many of her actions but she also seemed to be wanting to ‘do good’. Which was perplexing.

Louise is pretty much an open book, though I kept waiting for some latent evil to reveal itself. And as for David… we don’t know quite what to believe.

Pinborough offers up a steady pace. There’s no lull and I had no need to skim. It was the quite the opposite in fact, and I probably felt the need to pay more attention than usual – looking for clues and hidden messages.

Mental illness features strongly in this book. David is a psychiatrist. Adele has spent some time in an institution of sorts many years earlier and may – or may not – still be somewhat (ahem) ‘troubled’.

But another theme emerged. One I won’t talk about here as it develops into something more and takes the book – ultimately – in a different direction. I wasn’t overly convinced and it probably meant the book was a little anticlimactic for me for that reason (and taking it from a 4 to a 3.5)

However, it’s most definitely worth the read and the twisty ending will probably appeal to many.

Behind Her Eyes was published in Australia by Harper Collins and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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