Disclaimer: There may be spoilers, if you don’t want to take the risk then just scroll to the bottom where the summary is.
First, I feel obligated to point out that I made it nearly 30 pages before I almost decided to not finish it – it was that off-putting. The book itself wasn’t written horribly, it was just predictable. From the first page, I could tell something was off with Grace and Jacks marriage.
“The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?”
After all, with a line like that gracing the cover, how else would it have been given away so blatantly? Was that just a design flaw on their end? Or was giving away the plot twist intentional? Although, for anyone who doesn’t read thrillers religiously, I can see how it’d be difficult to catch that. However, despite that giveaway, Paris managed to include just enough twists to get me to keep reading.
Most of the time, when I don’t want to finish a book, I try to rationalize why I’m quitting it, whether or not it’s the type of book I want to keep reading, and if I love the narrator or not. In rare instances, when all of the answers to those are negative, I’ll put it down and never pick it back up, or I’ll just put it above my books with the intention of going back later. On the contrary though, if you want to know more on my process of deciding to quit a novel – click here.
Now, where were we?
Ah, yes. The book! When a good friend of mine told me about this book, their main word to describe it was, “Weird. The book is just weird,” and they were right. The entire concept and everything was, in fact, weird. While I do applaud B.A. Paris for writing on such seemingly taboo subjects that a lot of writers have strayed away from (domestic violence, gaslighting, etc.), I still can’t get past the way that she did it. While I do believe including Grace’s sister was a must, I just don’t find it plausible in the way that they portrayed her.
Grace’s sister, Millie, has Down’s, but the way that Paris portrayed how predatory Jack was when it came to Millie was just downright weird. The entire dilemma between Jack and Grace, and Jack and Millie was just confusing and while I understand where exactly the writer was coming from, it just doesn’t seem plausible. Jack is supposed to be this fear-thirsty man, but he doesn’t thirst for anything else. Jack and Grace were married for around 18 months, but he never actually wanted her. The entire concept of what Paris was trying to pass off was just demented and frankly a little fucked up.
Another thing, while I mentioned that the book wasn’t written horribly, there was a phrase that one of my favorite English professors drove into my head:
Great fiction doesn’t require excessive dialogue, the more action the better.
I feel as though this didn’t exactly apply in how Paris took on this novel. There were moments when I’d have to backtrack on who was speaking, and at times there were full pages of dialogue with no action. The characters would be at dinner with their colleagues, just sitting there and not moving or anything. Grace would lift her hand to take a sip of champagne/wine, and her hand would just stay there. I know this is just being picky, but having that phrase in my head at all times has really affected how I judge books and my own writing.
So, getting down to the stars. I only gave it two stars due to the general plot, the excessive dialogue, and the predictability. When I narrow it down, this book seems as though it should’ve taken on more pages. If it was just a little longer and contained a little more detail with more plausible situations, then maybe it wouldn’t come off as a draft of something that could’ve been, well, better.
Summary from back of the book: Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance. He’s a dedicated attorney who has never lost a case she is a flawless homemaker, a masterful gardener and cook, and dotes on her disabled younger sister. Though they are still newlyweds, they seem to have it all. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’re hopelessly charmed by the ease and comfort of their home, by the graciousness of the dinner parties they throw. You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable. Some might call this true love. Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows. Some might wonder what’s really going on once the dinner party is over, and the front door has closed.
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