The blurb reads,
“Divorcee Jenny MacPartland’s struggle to support herself and her two small daughters is not helped by her irresponsible ex-husband. But suddenly a new man steps into her life. Rich, handsome Erich Krueger sweeps her off her feet and off to his mansion in the country.”
So the blurb nowhere begins to capture the complexity and brilliance of this book. I had read a Mary Higgins Clark sometime last year (not yet reviewed, much to my dismay) and there are a few authors you know you have to binge read. She is one of them.
This author, somehow succeeds in chilling you simply by the sheer brilliance of her writing alone. I am really looking forward to binging on her other books while I have a Scribd trial in place.
And while I write this review, I realise how grossly inadequate the blurb is to introduce the reader to what a brilliant book this is. Anyway, I hope I can convey that to the readers in the form of this review.
So I picked this book up, randomly among the others on Scribd and then jumped straight into it. Jenny MacPartland works in a gallery and is a divorced mother of two. She has an ordinary middle-class life for a New Yorker and while she isn’t greedy or fanciful, she does dream of a better life for her children.
The first thing she hears from Erik Krueger is,
“You look so much like HER!”
And thus starts the book. Erik is dashing, handsome, and the ‘artist of the century’. Critics cannot have enough of him and everyone wants to catch his eye. But Erik seems to have eyes for Jenny. He showers her with love and affection and indeed, they have a whirlwind courting before Erik decides to whisk Jenny to his farm.
This is where everything begins.
You know you have those books where you know that something that happens is the precipice of something more deeper and more important happening. And Jenny moving from New York is precisely that. Also, Jenny is a dead ringer for Erik’s mother.
I so fear I can’t write without revealing the plot away!! That is how brilliant this book is. Erik is one of the creepiest characters I have read about. When you read a book, some characters are so angelic that you know there is something beneath that veneer and Erik is one of those. Jenny finds herself and her daughters trapped in Erik’s house. His strange ways and the strange happenings in the house confound Jenny but she brushes it off as something which she imagined. And when Erik does the unthinkable, Jenny must act, or lose everything she lives for.
I read most of this book while coming home in a 50 minute flight. And I was so so engrossed in the book. I kept turning page after page after page. Erik and whatever he does simply stifled me. It did not help that I was sitting in an airplane which already has such a controlled environment. At some points in the book, I was positively spooked. I felt as helpless as Jenny and at some points, I really did want her to break away, and leave. But the next instant, Erik would have dashed all those hopes to the ground. And I felt as helpless as before.
This is a great book. You are clothed in the despair and the helplessness that Jenny feels and also stunned by the confusions that keep coming up. You see yourself siding with Jenny and then questioning whether everything that happened in the book is as it seems. And that is where the book is brilliant.
I only have one fault, that the end is absurd. I didn’t feel the end was handled properly. I didn’t feel like the discovery of what Erik does to be as dramatic as the build up had been. And the end was rather cliche, much like it was suited for a film.
Notwithstanding all of this, it was a brilliant book which really deserves all the praise. I’m happy I read it! Definitely entertained me enough.
My Rating: 4/5