The act of writing a book, of putting words to paper and telling a story beginning to end, is worthy of respect. The blue-collar, “got-er-done” achievement of making a book is admirable. Very few people can claim this achievement.
Not every author appeals to every reader. Not every story, style of prose, or perspective is for everyone. But you have to respect the work.
That’s what I’ve always thought. Until Behind Closed Doors came into my life.
Paris is a good enough writer that I did read this book beginning to end. I didn’t put it down. I didn’t walk away. I feel strongly about the book. The characters were vivid. Those should have won Paris points.
But the plot is so profoundly disturbing - and not in a good way - that I wish I’d never read this book. I stuck with it to the end because I wanted it to redeem itself - and me by extension.
After I finished the book, all I could think about was how long it takes to write a novel. How long a writer has to live with those characters. And why, with all the characters and all the plots in all of human imagination past present future, would an author want to spend any time with this plot or these characters? Why?
I can probably count on one hand the number of books I’ve criticized based on their plot. I will read anything, if the writing is decent. I don’t need to like characters or plot to value the experience of stepping into an author’s world. But I can’t forgive Paris putting this tiny fictional world inside my real life world. I want it expunged.
Here’s why: (Spoiler, but trust me, it’s a favour): Woman has a sister with Down’s syndrome. Woman meets handsome, rich man. Woman agrees to marry man if he accepts responsibility for her sister. This is necessary because parents never wanted her in the first place and can’t be bothered to take care of their own child. Man agrees. Turns out, the only reason he is marrying woman in the first place is because he has fantasies of torturing a woman with Down syndrome for the rest of her life (plot twist!). Meanwhile, outside world thinks man and woman have the perfect marriage.
If your idea of a good time is reading a book about spousal abuse and the torture of people with Down syndrome then please knock yourself out. But since this is no one’s idea of a good time, the fact that this book exists makes no sense. This is weird torture porn featuring abuse of someone with Down’s syndrome, and that’s not entertaining.
It’s too much. It’s too far gone. It’s not a good book. And I think less of anyone who says they like it.
I landed on this book because I wanted a domestic fiction story to follow up on Elon Musk and his nonfiction quest for Mars. Will aim for another highly reviewed book and hope it clears the ghosts from my head.