Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

Review: ‘Behind Her Eyes’ by Sarah Pinborough

Review: ‘Behind Her Eyes’ by Sarah Pinborough

Rating: 3.5 stars

Don’t trust this book. Don’t trust this story. Don’t trust yourself.

David and Adele seem like the ideal pair. He’s a successful psychiatrist, she is his picture-perfect wife who adores him. But why is he so controlling? And why is she keeping things hidden?

As Louise, David’s new secretary, is drawn into their world, 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 someone might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

If Behind Her Eyes is anything, it’s absorbing.  I read the vast majority of it in a day (all but about the first 10 pages, I think, that I’d read a day earlier) and I was completely obsessed with finding out what the devil was going on.  The story centres around David, a psychiatrist who has recently moved to a new practice, Adele (his wife) and Louise (his secretary at said new practice), with chapters switching between the perspectives of Adele and Louise. 

As is so often the case with a psychological thriller, this isn’t necessarily one for readers who have to identify with or like characters they’re reading about.  With the exception of Adam (Louise’s 6 year old son), the characters of Behind Her Eyes are varying degrees of awful.  Or at least, if they aren’t awful, they’re doing their share of pretty awful things.  It’s their particular brand of awfulness that makes the story, though, and the feints, hints and misdirection just wouldn’t work if the characters were all honest, sharing types so if you can look past it and just get wrapped up in the unpleasantness, it’s really worth it.
There isn’t a great deal more that I can say about this.  The hashtag being bandied about on Twitter for Behind Her Eyes is ‘WTFthatending’.  Even though it was what drew me to pick up the book (I’m such a marketing sucker), there were times at the beginning of the novel that I thought it was a bit of a bummer.  You know when someone tells you that something unexpected is coming and it just makes you question everything you’re reading, trying to expect the unexpected?  I felt a bit like that.  As I was reading the first few chapters, I was distracted imagining all sorts of twists and turns.  Then I realised that it was bloody obvious right from the start that there is something very wrong with the narrative and that there are plenty of secrets hidden just below the surface waiting to smack readers in the face.  It isn’t a spoiler to know that everything isn’t as it seems; readers will work that out for themselves soon enough. 
I really enjoyed the experience of reading this book.  It was a perfect read for what was a really rather gloomy, rain-filled Sunday and I am so glad that I finally tried out some of Sarah Pinborough’s novel writing.  All of this does come with a ‘but’, though.  There are elements of this book that I was dissatisfied with and I couldn’t give it more than a 3.5 stars as a result. I do recommend reading it because it is without a doubt a read for sheer escapism and because it’s nigh on impossible to put down and leave down.  It might all be down to expectations, of course, and I’m hoping that by telling you to suspend preconceptions and disbelief and expect to be a bit blindsided by the left field revelations, I’m giving you the reading experience that I didn’t quite get.
I own a couple of Pinborough’s other novels (The Death House and Mayhem) and reading Behind Her Eyes has definitely bumped them up my TBR pile. Any author that can write a book that just demands to be read in a single day is an author I want to read more of.
Overall:  Definitely one to pick up if you have a day free and fancy reading something that you can get all tangled up in and that won’t let you leave it alone. I might not have been totally convinced by all of it but I did absolutely have the appropriate #WTFthatending reaction on finishing so that’s something!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Date finished:  20 November 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review – thank you, HarperCollins!
Genre: Psychological thriller
Pictured Edition Published: on 26 January 2017 by HarperCollins
Buy your own copy (affiliate links):  Amazon  |  Wordery