2017 Flatiron Books
Finished on September 10, 2020
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Why is everyone talking about the ending of Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes?
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.
Reminiscent of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, Pinborough's psychological thriller is a compelling and fast-paced novel. The short chapters, narrated in the alternating voices of Louise and Adele, maintain the tension between the main characters and I had a difficult time putting the book down. As noticed in similar domestic thrillers, Pinborough includes not only an unreliable narrator, but one who habitually escapes reality in a bottle of wine. I can overlook these tired tropes, but Louise's internal monologues just about had me throwing the book across the room. Without a literary device of a diary or a trusted best friend, I understand the author's need to communicate a character's thoughts and feelings with these private monologues. What irritates me is that this rapid conveyance of thoughts sounds fake and not at all the way in which we would normally speak to one another. It doesn't ring true and is a distraction to the flow of the story. That said, I wasn't as acutely aware of these monologues in later chapters; they were either less frequent or I became immune to them.
Did the ending live up to all the hype? Yes and no. I raced through the final chapters, unable to stop reading, but that finale. Geez. It's not quite a Sixth Sense or Shutter Island ending, but it definitely took me by surprise, in spite of the need to suspend disbelief on several levels.
Sarah Pinborough won't win any awards for lyrical prose, but she managed to keep me guessing and entertained, in spite of my quibbles. Have you read Behind Her Eyes? Will you watch the upcoming Netflix series? Without leaving spoilers, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I read Behind Her Eyes for the RIP XV Challenge.