Title: Behind Her Eyes
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Published: February 1st 2017
Publisher: Harper Collins Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller, Suspense
Rating: 3.5 stars
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.
Ok, so let’s get it out the way, Behind Her Eyes comes with an absolutely shocking twister of an ending that redefines what genre the book falls into. If you are thinking this is a Gone Girl/girl on the Train style domestic thriller, think again. So it’s a warning of such from me and the bevy of readers who have already read this book. Behind Her Eyes even comes with its very own hashtag #WTFthat ending, which I discovered after I had finished reading the book.
Onto the crux of the book, I will aim to give you an overview of Behind Her Eyes without giving any obvious spoilers away, as it is that kind of book. There are three main players in this book that ultimately drive the narrative. There is single mother Louise, psychiatrist David and David’s wife Adele – beautiful but possibly damaged by tragic events in her past. These characters become intertwined when Louise has a romantic tryst in a bar with David. By coincidence, David ends up being Louise’s new boss. It isn’t long before Louise succumbs further to David’s charms and the two embark upon an affair. Simultaneously, Louise befriends Adele, David’s wife, but he doesn’t know about their friendship. Adele and Louise become gym buddies and share regular coffee dates. It isn’t long before Louise becomes completely entangled in this enigmatic couple’s marriage. Big secrets lurk under the surface of this couple’s relationship, the secrets are powerful and transformative.
Firstly, I have to admit that I was so preoccupied by this book’s supposed shocking final twist that it actually impacted on the way I read it. This obsession was fuelled by the many reviews I have read by my fellow book bloggers as well as goodreads friends. I became fixated on trying to theorise what this thrilling ending would be. I thought I had it worked out in the last third of the novel, but no, I was way off the mark!
Initially, it appears that Pinborough offers up a fairly standard domestic thriller, with psychological elements. There is the old unreliable narrator factor thrown in for good measure. This aspect of the storyline comes from Adele, who we discover through Pinborough’s slow reveal style of storytelling, has a deeply tragic past that has clearly impacted on who she is today. Pinborough’s narrative is split between the two female leads, meaning we get a significant picture of both women’s lives – both in the past and in the present. Louise and Adele are very different women, with contrasting life experiences, but both are interesting enough characters to explore. David, the main male protagonist, was a slightly more ambiguous character, whom I lacked trust in. In fact, I suspected David of many things through the novel, he seemed to give off an air of suspicion throughout the novel.
Back to that ending. I am taking a star off this novel for the complete genre flip, which was a little misleading. The genre the book falls into at the end of the novel didn’t really do much for me and it was almost a shame it went in this direction.
Behind Her Eyes is a genre altering, mainly domestic thriller that I found addictive, until the notorious twist, which came in the last quarter of the book. As this was a mostly enjoyable read though unusual, it has encouraged me to explore more works by Sarah Pinborough.
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough was published in February 2017 by Harper Collins Australia, details on how to purchase the book can be found here.