By Sarah Pinborough
Published by Flatiron Books
on January 31, 2017
Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
This book was on my radar for a while. I saw it described on my bookish social media feed as a twisty thriller, and saw some comparisons to Gone Girl, one of my absolute favourite books. I am unable to resist books that get compared to Gone Girl, so I knew I had to check this one out.
I so wanted to love Behind Her Eyes. I found it impossible to put down. It was definitely a page-turner. Even when I wasn’t sure what was going on, I knew that something was off. The author kept me on edge and uneasy the entire time, which was fun.
But overall, the book was missing something that would have made me love it. Still, recommended for mystery/thriller fans (although if you are like me and read a lot and think you are tough to truly surprise, this book may lack some of its punch).
I think this is a book that we’ll be hearing a lot about, certainly due in part to that ending, which is unusual enough that I strongly recommend reading Behind Her Eyes before it gets spoiled for you!
Read on for more detailed, spoiler-y thoughts:
I can accept all sorts of worlds and rules and premises in my books. Yet something about the lucid dreaming (or whatever was going on) didn’t sit well with me. It’s a great plot device to achieve that bonkers ending, but felt clunky to me throughout the story. When Lou realizes what she can do, why doesn’t she look into it more? Or talk to Adele about it more? It just struck me as such an unusual thing to be able to do, yet she didn’t even bother to Google it or something.
And I lacked some sort of connection to the characters. David never felt like a fully realized character to me, and while I sympathized with Lou and liked her at first, she was falling into Adele’s trap so easily and predictably that I got more and more frustrated with her as I read on.
As for the final twist (and I do like that there were a couple of twists at the end) – that it isn’t Adele in Lou’s body as it seemed at first, but Rob – it was great but had occurred to me earlier in the book as a possibility. I like the twist a lot. It’s pretty big, coming after what is already a big twist, but the end, with Rob-as-Lou plotting to get rid of Adam, Ian, and Lisa – the people in Lou’s life – fell flat for me, and I think it was supposed to have a bigger impact than that.
My overall impression was of a story and characters built around a great twist (Adele takes over Lou’s body, which is the first twist, and then the reader learns it’s really Rob who was in Adele’s body – having taken over Adele’s body years ago – and has now taken over Lou’s).
Plot-wise, it was a fun read, but on an emotional level, I lacked any sense of connection. I should have felt something at the end, after both twists – sadness maybe for Lou, or David, or the real Adele – but I didn’t. The only person I came close to feeling anything for in the end was Lou’s son, Adam.
Overall, a fun read, and one that I think will be really fun to discuss with others who have read it.