Calendar Girls April: Favourite Book with a Surprise Ending

Hello Bookworms!

Welcome to another edition of the Calendar Girls!

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Calendar Girls was a monthly blog event created by Melanie at MNBernard Books and Flavia the Bibliophile and will now be hosted by Katie at Never Not Reading and Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favourite book from the theme and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post.

So without further ado, this month’s theme is…

…and my top pick is…

Behind Her Eyes by Sara Pinborough

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As soon as I saw the theme for this month’s Calendar Girls, I knew straightaway that there was one book whose surprise ending completely blew me away – and that was Behind Her Eyes. The publishers even started the hashtag #WTFthatending because so many people were talking about it!

The book is about a psychopathic wife, an edge-of-breakdown husband and a nice-but-slightly-dim friend/colleague who gets embroiled in their dysfunctional marriage. As we explore the web of lies that the couple have created, the nice-but-slightly-dim friend/colleague uncovers more and more of the truth until things eventually come to a head. However, instead of the expected showdown you get a completely left-field ending that’s so unnerving I’m still thinking about it two years later. Seriously, this is quite a long book and although it trails off a bit in the middle (the wife is mentally ill, we get it) it is so worth it to get to the ending. Trust me.

Although on paper the book does sound a bit like Gone Girl, there is nowhere near the level of creeping tension where each scene in the book is relevant, the next scene builds upon it and everything is tied up in a neat bow at the end. This is more like you have a fair idea that the wife is psychopathic, you’re not sure about the husband, you uncover bits of the past and have an idea of what’s going on and then out of nowhere comes the ending.

There were a couple of weird ideas introduced in the novel that I initially struggled to get to grips with (lucid dreaming anyone?) but after reading the whole book I think the concept actually worked really well – even if it did seem a little incongruous at first.

Minor negatives aside, Behind Her Eyes is a fabulous read and thoroughly deserves all the buzz that was created – WTF that ending indeed!!!

 

Have you read Behind Her Eyes? Do you enjoy books with twists that you don’t see coming? Let me know in the comments! 

 

Review: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

“Cross my heart and hope to die”

Genre: Fiction/Mystery and Thriller

Similar to: The Girl on the Train, The Lie, Dr. Foster

Could be enjoyed by: Fans of domestic thrillers (they all seem a bit samey to me but this one is written particularly well)

Publication date: 14 May 2018

I really enjoyed Sarah Pinborough’s last book “Behind Her Eyes” (#WTFthatending) so I was excited to see her latest offering. I’m pleased to report that this novel did not disappoint. I’m a weird way, these domestic thrillers are becoming a bit of a guilty pleasure – I love the way you can speed through them because you can’t wait to see what happens next (although the non-hubs is less appreciative when I’m still reading at 2am and he wants to go to sleep). I do find that the quality within this genre is pretty variable though, so I was relieved to find that Cross Her Heart was within the upper percentile of my personal bell curve of likeability. 

Yay! 


Cross Her Heart is about a single mum, Lisa, living with her daughter Ava. They seem to have a pretty normal, happy relationship although Lisa can be a bit over protective. However, weird things start happening – familiar baby toys then up, a photo is smashed when the house is empty – and Lisa begins to panic. As she starts to link these instances together we learn more of her past until events conspire to make her history public. When the truth does out, it seems like the whole world turns against Lisa – just when she needs help the most. 

Oh, and there’s obviously a dramatic ending that you definitely don’t see coming. Obviously. 

The writing in this book is excellent, really pacey and consistent. One of my major bugbears is incongruous details – things that don’t quite add up or appear to be thrown in as a big obvious red herring and, happily, there’s none of that. As I mentioned, I’d previously read Behind Her Eyes (look, there’s a review and everything) and because of the way that book ended I couldn’t help thinking that there would be a similar theme. That took me off on a completely different – and entirely wrong – tangent (presumably deliberate) which I thought was a very subtle and very clever way of misleading your reader. Top marks, Ms Pinborough!  

I really liked all of the main characters in this book and I loved how the different relationships were portrayed. Some of the mother/teenage daughter scenes were cringily reminiscent of my own adolescence, where I was also full of irrational rage and certain that I had the most overbearing mother in the world (I didn’t – sorry Mum). I also really like the female friendships and the way that the two female characters had each others backs no matter what. However, the thing that stood out for me was the way that domestic violence and coercive control was written about – I thought Sarah Pinborough did a brilliant job of showing such an accurate portrayal. 

On the downside, there’s often a part of the storyline in thrillers where you have to suspend your disbelief for a second and I will say that I found the ending just a tiny, tiny bit unbelievable – although the author clearly recognises this and does her best to make it seem realistic. At least you won’t see it coming!

If you haven’t read this book, I would recommend that you read Behind Her Eyes first – they’re both completely stand alone novels but knowing how Sarah Pinborough writes really expanded my ideas about how her second book would end – and this absolutely added to the drama *happy face*. 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Cross Her Heart. It’s never going to make it as classic fiction, but in a crowded marketplace this book ticks all the right boxes. I’m now a full on fan of Sarah Pinborough and can’t wait to see what she does next!


Rating: Four teenage temper tantrums out of five.

Pacey, addictive writing with realistic portrayals of women, female relationships and – amazingly – very little information about the size of their boobs. I mean, it was a struggle but I just about managed to picture the characters despite not knowing this vital information. Revelation!  


Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks Netgalley!