He has the perfect look, the perfect manners, he is absolutely charming and he even likes her sister Millie who suffers from the Down syndrome. Grace cannot believe her luck when Jack Angel proposes, she must be in a dream. There is just one favour he asks of her: she should give up her job at Harrod’s which is needs a lot of travelling. Grace reluctantly agrees, but since she expects to have children and then be a stay-at-home-mum for some time, this does not seem to be too bad. Everything is perfect – but it is all just a façade. The ink on their wedding certificate has not yet dried when Grace realizes that she might have made the biggest mistake of her life. However, she does not know that hell on earth is waiting for her.
Trudy is pregnant, but currently not living with the child’s father, John, but his uncle, Claude. The house they live in was one Trudy and John’s retreat and now worth millions since housing in London is expensive. Claude is into real estate and comes up with a plan: why not get rid of the unwanted father of the child and make money of the house? A plan is made, but John interferes when he suddenly shows up and asks Trudy to leave the house where he wants to create a new home for himself and his girlfriend Elodie. Quick action is needed and thus Trudy and Claude have to react fast. Just a couple of hours later, they seem to have reached their aim and nobody is there who could blame them. But what they don’t know is that somebody has been listening all the time…
Respect. Ian McEwan really succeeded in surprising me. One of my favourite authors of whom I have read many novels accomplished something I thought risky and did not expect much from: telling a story from an unborn baby’s point of view. But what do we get: a lot of fun with a narrator who is not only a lot cleverer than all the adults presented, but also a close observer and ironic commentator of what he hears and understands. In this special case, getting the story just form one perspective is a great plus since the baby is just hilarious. At points, however, the laughter gets stuck in your throat when, for example, the baby is longing for another glass of wine – something it is highly used to. In this way, McEwan does what we expect him to do: he knows exactly how to put the words so that there is a double meaning and the underlying message can hit you hard.
What I liked best about the novel were first of all the baby’s way of narrating what’s happening. A slightly naïve tone which nevertheless shows a lot on knowledge and understanding. Second, the presentation of the characters who are mainly characterized through their action and even though they are not really the sympathetic type of person and only seen through the baby’s eyes, the develop facets and become more and more complex in their feelings.
All in all, a quick read which connects a lively and lovable narrator with a murder plot.
The novel slowly reveals more and more of Jack’s atrocities before you can see the full extent of his evil character. You know that this cannot go on forever, the suspense slowly rises. First, you only feel pity for Grace, then you want to find out how she could end up in this situation and finally, you tremble and pray for her to find a way out. All this is really thrilling and sometimes the nerves are really on the edge while reading.
B.A. Paris’ novel plays with the greatest fears you can imagine: being held prisoner and abused and having people around who only see the outside and cannot look under the surface. Feeling and actually being completely helpless while not only your own life but also the one of your beloved is at risk, must be one of the most awful nightmares imaginable. At the same time, everybody envies you for your perfect life which is everything but not what what it seems to be. Albeit it is just a novel, it makes you think about what you really know about your friends and acquaintances and if all those perfect lives that you see from the outside, are really the same behind closed doors.