My enormous thanks to Sriya Varadharajan at Penguin Random House for inviting me to participate in this blog tour for Behind Closed Doors by Catherine Alliott. I’m delighted to share my review today.
It’s far too long since I read a Catherine Alliott book and you’ll find my review of Wish You Were Here in a very early blog post, here.
Behind Closed Doors is available for purchase through the links here.
Behind Closed Doors
From the outside, anyone would think that Lucy Palmer has it all: loving children, a dashing husband and a gorgeous home.
But when her marriage to Michael comes to an abrupt and unexpected end, her life is turned upside down in a flash.
As the truth of her marriage threatens to surface, Lucy seizes the opportunity to swap her house in London – and the stories it hides – for a rural escape to her parents’ farmhouse in the Chilterns.
But Lucy gets more than she bargained for when she moves back to her childhood home, especially when it throws her into the path of an old flame.
Coming face-to-face with her mistakes, Lucy is forced to confront the secrets she’s been keeping from herself and those she loves.
Is she ready to let someone in? Or will she leave the door to her past firmly closed . . .
My Review of Behind Closed Doors
Lucy’s life is about to change.
I thoroughly enjoyed Behind Closed Doors although it really wasn’t what I was expecting! The cover made me think of women’s fiction and the strap line made me think of a thriller and one of the great successes of Behind Closed Doors is that it doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre. There is a crime of sorts, there are the conventional elements of women’s fiction like relationships and family, but there’s also humour and depth so that somehow the book becomes more than the sum of its parts. This is a book about life.
I loved Catherine Alliott’s conversational first person style because it felt as if Lucy were a close friend and we were catching up with one another. This gave an intimate and compelling atmosphere. What I think works so well about the plot is the ordinariness of so many of Lucy’s experiences. Much of what she endures in dealing with her husband and parents could be happening literally behind any closed door and I thought the presentation of what everyday life can be was so cleverly, sensitively and convincingly conveyed. That’s not to say Behind Closed Doors is a ‘worthy’ narrative. Far from it. It’s hugely entertaining. Lucy’s parents in particular lend a bitter-sweet lightness that balances the story perfectly. Here we get an insight into other people’s lives that we may normally take for granted or dismiss. I don’t want to spoil the story at all but there is a comment from Ingrid towards the end of the book that I thought was sheer genius.
Lucy herself is such an engaging character. It was wonderful to meet a middle aged woman with her flaws and perfections that I could engage with fully. She combines weakness and strength in a manner that makes her completely relatable. I thought Catherine Alliott balanced characters really well too. There’s a large enough cast to provide a cross section of society but with a focus on half a dozen main people that gives depth and intimacy.
And speaking of depth, the themes of Behind Closed Doors are rich and varied. From domestic control to identity, family and friendships, loyalty and duty to ageing and excessive behaviour, Catherine Alliott presents a rich and varied snapshot of life. I think any reader would find a character or situation in Behind Closed Doors that resonated with them.
Behind Closed Doors wasn’t entirely what I was expecting but between its pages I found an entertaining, touching, thought-provoking and compassionate story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I finished the book feeling that all was right with the world and what could be better than that?
About Catherine Alliott
Catherine Alliott is the author of fifteen bestselling novels including About Last Night, My Husband Next Door, A Rural Affair, One Day in May, The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton, and Wish You Were Here. She lives with her family in Hertfordshire.