Publication Date: 18th September by Bloodhound Books
Category: Psychological, Thriller, Book Review
Her father abused her when she was a child. For years she was too afraid to speak out. But now she suspects he’s found another victim…
Laura, a young woman struggling to deal with what her father did to her a decade ago, is horrified to realise that the girl he takes swimming might be his next victim. Emma is twelve – the age Laura was when her father took away her innocence.
Told from three perspectives, the story focusses on Laura and her parents, Suzanne and Paul.Laura is a happy child until the age of twelve when her father began abusing her.
Controlling her through manipulation and threats about her mother’s fragile state of mind and what it might do to her should she find out, Laura kept her father’s shameful and sordid secret. Now twenty-two, Laura is still affected by her father’s temper and her traumatic childhood. She’s quiet and withdrawn, unable to hold down a job, living from one day to the next, not letting anyone see the real person. The relationship with her family is tenuous at best. Buried deep inside Laura is the feeling her mother should have known, should have protected her.
The face in the window stared back at her. Hers, yet not hers, it blurred into a jelly of reflected faces and the shifting darkness beyond.
She would be there, soon. With her mother — with him. She would have to say the right things, laugh in the right places. Pretend everything was alright.
When Laura learns her father has volunteered to take the twelve year old daughter of her mother’s friend swimming on a regular basis, alarm bells begin to ring. It’s getting more difficult for her to pretend all is well while keeping her family at arm’s length. Laura feels the need to unburden herself but will she be able to muster the courage to speak out before another young life is ruined and possibly, in the process, shatter her mother’s life?
The Girl In His Eyes is well structured—a hard hitting, realistic story of pedophilia and child abuse. It’s written extremely well, conveying the characters’ emotions and points of view in a believable, non gratuitous way. The chapters alternate between Laura, Paul and Suzanne which works really well, giving a rounded view of the dark and disturbing subject matter impartially. Jennie Ensor has approached this issue skilfully and without hesitation, exploring the mindset of each of the protagonists.
Laura’s story is heartbreaking, her confusion and fear as a child morphing into distaste and hostility towards her father. He was supposed to take care of her and instead he caused untold and far reaching damage. Laura copes in ways that might seem unhelpful to the outsider but they are her decisions, no one else is taking control. I found Suzanne difficult to understand. Even as she has nagging doubts about Paul, she talks herself out of them. It’s as if she lacks the ability to cope with anything remotely unpleasant. She depends on Paul for her happiness and just wants everything to be perfect. She seemed unable or unwilling to acknowledge the fact her daughter became quiet and withdrawn or that she obviously still has problems. It’s an especially clever and confident move to give the abuser’s point of view. Paul’s distorted rationale for his behaviour is alarming, coming from someone who is highly regarded and trusted by others, showing how easy it can be to deceive by outward appearances.
The last few chapters are tense and culminate in a conclusion I wasn’t quite expecting. A moving and compelling story.
I chose to read and review The Girl in his Eyesbased on a copy of the book supplied by the author/publisher.
A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor began her writing career as a journalist, obtaining a Masters in Journalism (winning two awards) and covering topics from forced marriages to accidents in the mining industry. She is keenly interested in social issues, which often creep into her novels, stories and poems. Ms Ensor’s debut BLIND SIDE was published by Unbound Digital in 2016; a second novel THE GIRL IN HIS EYES, a psychological thriller with echoes of Lolita, will be published by Bloodhound Books in September 2018. Her poetry has appeared in many literary publications, most recently Ink Sweat and Tears. In January 2018 her short story ‘The Gift’ was placed in the Top 40 of the Words and Women national prose competition. In her spare time, she sings in a chamber choir and dreams of completing the Tour du France or kayaking an impossibly long river.