Is this the perfect marriage or the perfect lie? What really happens behind closed doors?
Of course, this is a trick question because no one knows what happens behind a closed door. It’s unobservable, except when told from the perspective of one of the parties involved. Even then, the narrator isn’t entirely impartial.
B.A. Paris explores what happens when the perfect marriage turns out to be the perfect lie in her debut novel Behind Closed Doors.
The jacket copy reads:
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
I was really excited to read this book. It sounded like a thrilling story, but what I found was that the plot was predictable, the character’s one-dimensional, and the writing a little lack-luster.
The two main characters Grace and Jack are really one-dimensional. From the first page you could tell that their world exists in artifice, and not like the Grayson’s on revenge. Every inch of the conversation in the first dinner party scene seems cold and calculated.
I find it hard to believe that Adam and Diane and Esther and Rufus, would smile and be polite if they were truly their “friends.” All of their friends seem to be blind puppets that don’t provide much tension for the first half of the book.
In that first chapter, every piece of important information was dropped to give me the breadcrumbs I needed to predict the main plot of the book. While I kept reading and was eventually pulled into the story, I found myself losing interest again towards the end.
I think it all goes back to dialogue. There were places where Paris’ dialogue seemed forced and other places where dialogue could have built up the tension and suspense.
My editor’s eye wanted to suggest a complete restructuring of the novel and I could seem how to do it by the time I reached the last fifty pages of the novel.
Another reason I gave this book such a low rating was because Grace seemed one-dimensional to me. It took me a while to really care about her. When we are first introduced to Grace, we get a picture of her caring about her sister with Down’s Syndrome. That is it.
I wanted Grace to have more of a background. I wanted her to have likes, interests, hobbies and passions because it sounded like Millie was her life. She was moving into a role of “mom” before she even lived herself.
We got a bit of her passions with the painting, but we never really saw an ambition or a passion outside of Millie. The chemistry between Millie and Grace was great, and I loved seeing how affectionate she was towards Millie, but we saw so little of them together that it wasn’t enough for me to latch onto.
After sitting with the book for a few days I found myself reflecting on the story, and although I didn’t find myself invested in the characters, I saw some resemblance to Bluebeard, the Red Room in Jane Eyre, and even a little bit of The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter.
Even though Paris wasn’t inspired by those works, there is a bit of a resemblance that I did like. The pacing and the ending was ultimately what saved me from bailing on this book entirely.
That being said, I will look out for anything she does in the future.
FINAL RATING: 3 Stars