Behind Her Eyes
by Sarah Pinborough
Londoner and single-mom Louise is caught in a routine. She hasn’t had a relationship since her divorce and her only real reprieve from loneliness is her six-year-old son, Adam. But one night, she meets a mysterious man at a bar. He tells her, “No names, okay? No jobs. No dull life talk. Let’s talk about real things.” They end up kissing but he pulls away, saying he can’t go through with it. The next day, she learns that the man from the bar is her new boss, Dr. David Martin, who just moved to the city with his glamorous and impeccable wife Adele. Not too long after that, Louise literally runs into Adele and they begin a friendship. At the same time, she starts sleeping with David. Louise is torn; she knows her actions are treacherous but she is attached to both Adele and David and can’t give either up. Still, she realizes that their marriage harbors dangerous secrets. Adele shows signs of being abused. Once she had a black eye. Additionally, she faithfully answers David’s regular twice-a-day phone calls and consents to his control of the family finances. As she becomes more embroiled in relationships with them, her loyalties are tested and she becomes drawn into a vortex of manipulation and jeopardy.
Behind Her Eyes can only be described as ridiculous. Up to a point, the plot is predicable. Chapters alternate between Louise and Adele as narrators and their voices are not sufficiently distinct. As a character, Louise was naive, foolish, and stupid, and it was hard to sympathize with her as she made increasingly poor decisions endangering her son in the process. I also found that the writing was simplistic.
However, I could not put this book down! As silly as the plot was, I wanted to know what happened. And the story brought up interesting ideas about secrecy and the weight one should give to past events. Readers who want a serious, thoughtful book, should look elsewhere. However, this is the perfect airplane or beach book because it is compelling but takes little intellectual engagement.