Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough is one of those books that will leave you shaken, a little bewildered and maybe even a little pissed off. But overall, it is a book that will remind you what a true twist and turn in a novel can be. It will have you unsettled as it switches not only storylines but genres as well and saying anymore off the bat will spoil this book for you.
Louise is a divorced single mother who works as a secretary in a clinic. Her ex-husband helps support her but in truth, she has hardly moved on from the divorce. She is simply going day to day. On a rare night out of dancing and drinking she meets a man and though they stop at kissing, she is beginning to feel like she is finally connecting with people again. The next morning at work she is scheduled to meet her new boss and his wife. Her new boss, who turns out to be the man from the club. The man Louise was kissing. The man she cannot stop thinking about.
David can’t believe the girl from the bar is to be his new secretary. This move, with his wife Adele was suppose to be a new start for them and from the onset he is screwing it up. David convinces Louise that it was a mistake, that he doesn’t do that sort of thing and they try to move on, forgetting about that night. All seems to be fine until one day Louise bumps into a woman on the street. David’s wife Adele and they quickly strike up a friendship. Louise finds herself drawn to David and unable to turn him away when he shows up at her apartment late at night and drunk. But she also can’t stop herself from being Adele’s friend, listening to all of her lover’s and his wife’s problems. If David and Adele are so perfect than why is David so controlling of Adele and why is he sleeping with Louise. Even more so, how can Louise sleep with David and then spend time with Adele during the day when David is away?
Louise becomes pulled deeper and deeper into David and Adele’s marriage, her loneliness and need to be wanted from both David and Adele drive her obsession. It doesn’t take her long to believe that there is something very wrong with them and that perhaps, David is not who he seems to be. That Adele and even herself could be in danger.
And this is where I stop summarizing, because to do much more is to give away plot points and sub plots that eventually give way to the real story here.
Sarah Pinborough is a gifted storyteller and in the hands of a less adept author, Behind Her Eyes could have become a laughable attempt at what is simply a Hitchcockian twist and turn in modern storytelling. This is like an episode of the Twilight Zone that when revealed, you simply wonder how you missed it all along. It is that good.
If there is a drawback to this story it is Louise. Her selfish and entitled attitude is off putting. She takes the moral high ground when she is sleeping with the husband of the woman she is befriending? When she digs in their past and comes to unfounded conclusions that have so much more with her own drama than theirs, but still it is their fault. The reader knows from the beginning that Louise is being manipulated, but really, can you be that remarkably dumb? Fortunately for the story, she is.
Now for the twist. The big reveal at the end of this book that will leave you astounded or surly. You will be raving or really pissed off. It is the kind that you are likely to want to fling this book across the room into the nearest wall, but then, you will get up and walk over to it and pick it up. It is just that good.