Welcome back to the table readers and happy Friday! Today I’m bringing y’all a review for Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough along with a recipe for a braised chicken Thai curry. A few recipes ago I featured a lightened up Indian curry that we love in our house and this one is another family favorite! It makes great left overs and it’s a super easy one-pan dish to whip up that takes little prep work and kind of just does it’s own thing so it’s perfect for a weeknight meal. This book was suggested to me by a friend of mine while we were discussing bat-shit crazy endings to books and she mentioned this one as being the cream of the crop for surprise twists so it took no time at all for me to hop on this gravy train and get my hands on a copy!
Louise is a divorced mother of one working the front desk of a psychiatrists office. On one of the rare nights she’s able to treat herself to an adult night, she meets a charming and handsome man who she shares a few kisses and a lot of flirtations with. This is the first man in a long time that she’s actually liked and to her horror when she shows up to work the next day, that mans turns out to be her new boss. David isn’t just her boss either, he’s a married man and his wife Adele is too stunning for words. She is a poised elegance to Louise’s charming, down-to-earth. To Louise, Adele is everything she’s not and she promptly hides in the bathroom to avoid them both. But you can’t hide from your boss forever.
It’s strange how different we all appear to who we really are.
As Louise and David navigate their little bar-time misstep they forge ahead letting their past indiscretions go and vow to continue on in a professional manner. When Louise accidentally bumps into Adele and knocks her to the ground she comes face to face with her worst nightmare. Only, Adele isn’t a nightmare – she’s kind and friendly and seems deeply lonely. When Adele asks Louise out for coffee, Louise feels she has no choice but to say yes. She finds that Adele is funny and likable and it’s been so long since she’s had a real girlfriend and she can’t help but feel the intoxicating lure of friendship.
As Adele and Louise, Louise and David all get to know one another their lives become a tangled web of secrets and lies. David and Louise can’t help their attraction to one another, Adele and Louise can’t help their instant friendship. However, as Louise digs herself deeper and deeper into this marriage she begins to notice oddities in the both of them. Why does Adele have an “allowance” from David? Why does Adele want Louise to keep their friendship a secret from David? Why is the man Louise knows David to be so starkly different from the relationship she sees that he has with Adele? Soon Louise has dug herself into a 6 foot deep hole that looks awfully like a grave. What is this seemingly perfect married couple hiding?
“Everyone has secrets, Lou,” she says. “Everyone should be allowed their secrets. You can never know everything about a person. You’d go mad trying to.”
I hadn’t even heard of this book before it was suggested to me by a friend and once I looked into it I kept seeing the same thing over and over again. That this baby packs the surprise ending of the century. Well, being myself I promptly went and picked up this book prepared to aggressively ferret out the ending and prove to the world that “HAH, I guessed it right!”. Well y’all, I will let you know that about 20 pages from the end I was 110% sure that I had numerous aspects of this stories ending perfectly mapped out in my head. What I actually had was exactly 0 correct predictions and when I got to those last few pages I had to reread them multiple times and then find a way to pick my jaw up off the floor.
This is certainly the most surprised I’ve ever been by the ending of a book. It wasn’t just that Pinborough threw in a bunch of left-field information that while surprising, made no sense. Everything previously that I’d had questions about from the start of the book came into clear focus but it was a bat-shit crazy clarity that I had a hard time wrapping my mind around. Behind Her Eyes is told in alternating POVs between Adele and Louise and Adele’s POV is broken up into present day and flash backs to a rough childhood she faced, despite her privilege. So the reader is left juggling not only multiple points of view, but multiple time lines. It keeps the suspense thick and heady and it drives the reader forward with a need to understand how all these pieces are going to play out in the end.
The past is as ephemeral as the future—it’s all perspective and smoke and mirrors.
While I don’t need likable characters, it’s always nice to have them. However, I find myself particularly impressed when an author creates only unlikable, unreliable narrators and I still find myself enjoying the story. That’s exactly what’s happening in this novel and it absolutely blew me away. To be able to form empathy within a reader among a cast of characters that are all making really bad choices is an art that few authors are able to pull off. It’s not just the ending of this story that made this a knock-out for me but the build up and the ride along the way. There were a few times here and there that I felt like the story lulled a bit and could’ve used a little more forward progression but all-in-all this was a wild ride and I’ll definitely be suggesting it to readers galore in the future.
Long Story Short:
Suggested For: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense fans, anyone looking for a TOTALLY INSANE ending that you won’t see coming, fans of the the ‘unreliable narrator’ trope.
Music Mood: Early Spring Till by Nathaniel Rateliff
Alright y’all now that we’ve got our review out of the way it’s onto the main event – the recipe! This is a favorite in our household and it’s super easy to whip up any night of the week!
- Servings: 4 (it’s super easy to cut this one down but we use the leftovers as work lunches)
- Pans: 1
- Prep-Time: 0-5 minutes
- Cook-Time: 30 minutes
- 6 chicken thighs
- I only eat one, but my husband eats 2 so the serving size will depend upon your appetite!
- 2-4 tablespoons red curry paste
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 13 oz coconut milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- I use a microplane to grate the ginger, but a fine mince will do
- Lime juice
- I didn’t have a lime, only a lemon and it worked just fine
- Put a little oil in the bottom of your pan, once hot sear the chicken thighs on each side until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side).
- You may have to do in batches depending on the size of your pan.
- Remove the thighs and place on plate to the side. To hot pan add garlic, curry paste and ginger. Stir for amount 1 minute, until aromatics release.
- Add in coconut milk and chicken broth and stir.
- Bring to a simmer and add chicken thighs.
- Simmer, covered on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
- Add rice and chicken to bowl, ladle broth over and service with lime (or lemon) and cilantro!
Easy edits to make, per preference:
- As mentioned, if you don’t have lime on hand, lemon will do.
- You can really use any rice you want and I’ve even used noddles in the past and it’s just as tasty. If you want to lighten up the dish feel free to use zoodles or other veggie noodles. I personally suggest if you have a Trader Joe’s to hit up their frozen rice because it’s truly some of the best I’ve ever had and it makes no mess!
- You can add in more spice by adding in half to a tablespoon of sriracha to the broth prior to braising the chicken.
- Depending on how much you like the flavor of curry, I use almost the entire little container because we love the curry flavor but if you want it less bold, using less isn’t going to hurt the dish!
Quote: He isn’t too late home after all, coming through the door at five past seven. With the kitchen filled with cooking smells – I’ve spent my time waiting for him making a delicious Thai curry – I drag him upstairs to look at the colors in the bedroom.
Another Recipe and a Read in the bag! I’m hoping to finish a book I’m so far not particularly thrilled with this weekend so I’ll have some fresh reviews and hopefully some recipes for y’all next week! Have you read Behind Her Eyes? If so, what did you think of that ending? What are some books that took you by total surprise? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!