Wow! Fire breathing on paper!
Link to purchase book
I spoke of a duel before in my review of the book ? The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.
If the above was beginner level with swords, this one was the black belt of karate, but instead of limbs, it was the fire of the plot. Yes, a duel of the fires! And what a mighty duel at that I must say.Packed with intensity, the narration doesn?t let your concentration waver even for a second. At least, it didn?t let mine. While I was on a video call with my cousin sister, I took up even the few seconds of silence from her owing to moving about in her house, to pull up a page and see what new challenge Jack was throwing at Grace.It doesn?t take you time in plunging into the lives of the well-sketched couple, Mr. & Mrs. Angel, which does fantabulous wonders in kicking the high speed gear in motion.
You see the story from Grace?s POV, flipping between past and her present. The narration is swift and flowing, the suspense building so much that I had to maneuver myself often with extreme patience to not fly through sentences and dialogues to reach that one sentence in that situation that ultimately posed to be the cause of my silent, ?oh my/s.?
Millie, was fleshed out so strong, that she became to me a character with a force driving the story in her own way even if she was the secondary character. I absolutely loved her. She was built unshakeable; her insight, her perception, her judgment about people, her ability to mirror her sister?s emotions for her sibling; love and protection. There was also a clear determination and ferocity in her to achieve her goal. She also had no fear (this makes me smile). Segueing into the joy this girl had to her, the ability to be present and make the best of the situation, was a reminder to me about practicing mindfulness. Lastly, her intelligence is a work of art that you see in action, being painted.
There are two very clear-cut smart people in the story:- One is Millie and the other is Jack.
Jack ? with his manners and his charm and the right thing to say at the right time, came off as lifeless to me at first, perhaps also because the idea is ?perfection? here. There were no idiosyncrasies or something helter-skelter to make him seem more humane. But gradually as I read him on, he inspired in me a detachment from him perhaps owing to the fact that he himself was emotionless, or at least not tipping on the scales of connectivity. Which is why I understood how his objectivity helped him reach his goal, almost. In the end though, his human flaw; arrogance, brought him down in an irony.
The tiny details to which he controlled his wife was so intricate that it reminded me details of how I couldn?t be off even by an mm in my ex-line of work (filling a cavity with the appropriate filling, if there?s a difference of even an mm over or under, the occlusion is gone, as in the bite), but he was off, by a similar one mm ? the red room. His bite was gone which set Grace free. To cage his precious in a makeshift prison with ingenious psychological ammunition, the level of precision he had to have. Imagine. For that, I would applaud the character. Horrifying in general, but yes, very clever.
And what a genius, Grace understanding her husband so well that she eventually understood the level of his genius-ness (The shaded words in the book Esther had dropped off for her, not her work, understanding that it was his.)At first, I was a tad skeptical, wondering if the repeated tactic of Grace pleading for help by slandering her husband irrespective of knowing well enough that he had soaked himself as a perfect gentleman in the eyes of the world (like, C?mon Grace, when will you get it into your head that he?s untouchable especially with the hysterical woman you?re painting yourself as), was getting a little old but then I realized that that?s how it seems realistic and maybe because she did the repetitions, that?s what gave her the clarity gradually to read Jack?s mind and how to use it to her advantage in the end.
There were instances; fragile as a whisper. When Grace had begun plotting, Jack acquiescing to her demand of allowing her her choice of alcoholic beverage, and then staying for a drink with her for her to want to talk to someone (which as the story progressed, he seemed to want to talk to her too), and then unloading his troubles with the case he was losing.Two instances delved into Jack?s softer side; the first was the tale he narrated about the boy and the second was how he handled Grace at the dinner party when she burst into tears. He comes home and says something in regards to feeling un-evil maybe. And her response to his musing was an affirmation. I think Grace would have stayed if he was willing to seek help, and in that instance I felt maybe, the troubled young boy in him stirred in his sleep even if for a few moments??But then he shuts it down by acknowledging that he embraces who he is and would keep it the same. Forty-years old and feeling strong by calling the shots must have set him in his ways.
Esther ? Such a difference when portrayed next to someone as oblivious as Diana. You can see the contrast between fandom from one character while the other is still appraising the man in question. There?s a whisper of an ?Oh? that I gasped due to the enormity of the shock in the end. It was the last page. I felt touched throughout the resolution, between Esther and Grace?s conversation.
What a distinction between Jack and Grace?s world with the world outside. One can see the wall Jack built between Grace and the society. Two worlds in one dimension, clearly demarcated, the construction only visible to us apart from the very perceptive Esther.
Grace ? Her resilience mixed with her vulnerability; her nurturing essence simply ran like a steady stream of water in a river throughout the book. This one line of hers I remember and will do so for a long time?
?The door opens and he stands in the doorway, my handsome, psychopathic husband.?
What could have been? A sense of longing and yearning, nostalgic for what was and what could be?? Why do I feel that Grace feels something for him??
Her uncanny resilience to survive through her marriage for however long she did without losing her sanity simply baffles me. Or maybe she did slip over the edge by a fraction, for she did plot murder.I don?t know if it?s because I read this genre a bit which is why I have gotten used to the atmosphere but I?m considering the possibility that a newbie me would have called the atmosphere in the book claustrophobic. However, the goal does make any situation doable. In Grace?s case, it was keeping Millie safe. Her love for Millie and her help by Millie (not only did she make up insomnia but fooled her caretakers into requiring sedatives just so she could lend a lump sum to Grace on the down-low; told you she was driving the story in her own way) is exceptional, one of a kind. Their sibling dynamic is sweet and lovely, just on the right amount of endearing. Grace navigated herself superbly along with her circumstances and people.
Jack was headstrong; Grace was soft without backing down. Oddly well-coupled, this thought lingers in me.
If you?re secretly in a headspace to read a full-fledged dysfunctional relationship, you can drop by on this one. Who?s going to know, after all, you?re reading ?Behind Closed Doors?? (Pun intended.)