Fiction — audiobook. Read by Georgia Maguire. Macmillian Audio, 2016. 8 hours, 23 minutes. Library copy.
To outsiders, Grace Angel has the perfect marriage. Her husband, Jack, is a lawyer representing victims of domestic violence, and he absolutely dotes on his wife. He takes her on spur of the moment holidays to Thailand, provides a comfortable home so that Grace does not have to work, and is committed to Grace’s promise to bring her sister Millie, who has Downs Syndrome, to live with her after graduation from her boarding school.
To insiders — Grace, namely — the marriage is a nightmare. Her husband controls her every move; locking her in the home while he is at work, starving her, and depriving her of mental stimulation. Visits to her sister are restricted based on Grace’s behavior, but Jack refuses to give up on his promise to move Millie into their home. He has plans for the young girl, plans Grace dreads to dream up, plans that can only occur behind closed doors.
Jumping back and forth between past and present, Paris’ first novel is focused more on tying together the narrative rather than following the story from beginning to end. In the first hour, Grace confessions to the read about her situation — although, not the severity — and explains how she ended up there. A third of the way through, a plan to escape is hatched and the rest of the novel is spent pulling together the threads to explain why the plan was successful.
As such, the novel is probably best enjoyed if read in one sitting. I spaced my listening out over a few days, and it was easy enough to start picking apart the threads. To find some more convenient than others; to find fault with the ultimate conclusion of the novel. (A member of my book club pointed out a biological fact that utterly destroyed the ending, and we spent much of our discussion on the more ridiculous aspects of the novel.)
On the flip side, the spacing also added to the suspenseful and foreboding feeling of the novel. I am not normally one to be spooked out by crime novels; I am too much of a visual person when it comes to my fears and nightmares. Yet I found myself so stressed and alarmed and creeped out by Jack and the unexplained plans he had for Millie that I had to skip ahead in the printed copy to assure myself. To lift up the heaviness and anxiety I felt as I listened to the novel. Which, I have to admit, marks the novel as a strong debut in my mind.