Jack and Grace host a dinner party to welcome Rufus and Esther, who just moved to their area. Adam is also Jack's colleague and his wife, Diane, are invited to the dinner as well. Throughout the entire dinner, Grace seems obsessive to have everything to be in perfection to impress Jack. Meanwhile, Diane is continuously showering Grace with flattering words. In contrast, Esther seems doubtful about Grace's perfect life. She wonders whether this is their second marriage and curious about Grace's current unemployment status.
The story continues without revealing much about their perfect marriage, but it stirs the readers' uneasiness about this couple. Why does Grace need to work hard to impress her husband, Jack? Why does she need to listen to him about her choice of clothes before they go out? Is Jack rewarding her with a chance to see her sister Millie after organising a perfect dinner party? Why she can't go anywhere, and Jack follows her closely wherever she goes? All these questions are more than necessary to drive the readers to read further if we want to know more about this disturbing couple.
This is getting more intriguing when Esther asks for Grace's mobile phone number, and Grace doesn't have a mobile phone, and her email address shares with Jack. Although I felt annoyed with Esther's interrogations, I think she is asking all the questions on behalf of us as the reader. Every question is answered perfectly by Grace, who is also indirectly acting on behalf of the author.
"Do you realise what you've done, do you realise that you've sold your soul to me? And Millie's, for that matter."
I'm not sure what to do if I find out that my newly-wed husband disappears on the wedding night, acts more bad-tempered than before. Then, the next day, I have to face a totally different person than the one I've known all this time before the wedding day. It doesn't matter; it's six months or six years. Some people can surprise you even after learning him or her for more than ten years. And worse, if you have no one else to talk to. It really gives me the chill when trying to imagine if I have to face the reality that I make a massive mistake on the first day of my married life.
Besides the derailing marriage, one of the saddest parts of the story is forcing her sister Millie to twist the truth after revealing to Grace about the wedding day's incident. It's cruel, but unfortunately, they don't have many options to protect their own lives.
The entire story was told by shifting between present time and the past, which gradually reveals more details about this troubled relationship. There are bits and pieces here and there that keep teasing the readers' curiosity to find out more about Jack and Grace. The ending was slightly ambiguous but should be sufficient to provide the closure that has been anticipated by the readers since the beginning of the story.
Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)
More reviews can be found on Goodreads: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris.