76. Behind Closed Doors by Susan R. Sloan (2004)
Length: 467 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 14 August 2014
Finished: 15 August 2014
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 12 August 2014
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.
Raised in a large, loving, closely-knit Irish Catholic family living in Vermont, Valerie O’Connor is a sheltered and innocent young woman who comes of age during the 1950s. At the age of eighteen, Valerie meets and falls desperately in love with twenty-five-year-old Jack Marsh – a handsome, dashing Korean War veteran and a member of the Air Force. Valerie has been raised with the belief that a wife is subservient to her husband and a mother must keep her family together no matter what. However, little does she know that she is about to begin a relationship that is doomed from the start.
Jack Marsh is a damaged man; a man whose inner demons cause him to take his fears and insecurities out on his wife and five children. During their many years of marriage, Valerie has learned to say nothing when Jack, now an airline mechanic, arrives home after midnight, silent and emotionally distant. She ignores the shirts that smell of strange perfume and the handkerchiefs smeared with suspicious lipstick stains. She endures without complaint the bouts of drunken rage, the sudden bursts of violence, the morning after scenes of devastatingly sincere, choking remorse.
And, whatever the consequences, Valerie will never discuss such private issues with her children; who are themselves too terrified to speak lest they become their father’s next victims. To make matters worse, Jack moves Valerie and their children all the way across the country, taking Valerie away from her family, isolating her from the very people who know her and care for her the most. Too proud too ask for help or to admit her failure as a wife and a mother, Valerie is unable to protect either herself or her children from Jack’s increasingly visible and physically violent rages.
As they grow up, the five Marsh children will carve out their own very different futures. One by one, pushed to the extreme, the children will manage to escape their fractured home. In one fashion or another, each child will ultimately leave, until they are all gone – even Ricky, the youngest son and the one who is perhaps the most troubled. The only one left is Jack, and Valerie finally must face the reality of her marriage and her life.
And then, as if out of the ashes, another generation begins. Will history repeat itself? Valerie’s children worry, and even though they have successfully escaped their dysfunctional family, they will never escape the devastating effects it has had on each of their lives. This is a powerful story of a marriage begun with the best of intentions, but cursed by a legacy of violence that will have shocking consequences – a story that resonates with us all.
I absolutely loved this book; couldn’t put it down. In my opinion, Susan R. Sloan is an excellent writer. This is only the third book by Ms. Sloan that I’ve read, but it most certainly will not be the last one that I read. I give this book an A+! – if I could give it an A+++!, I most certainly would! 🙂
A+! – (96-100%)
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight