Friday, September 6, 2013

When backed into a corner, what do you do?

Sometimes it's difficult to write a review of a book. Sometimes you can't wait to write it down. Literally, right after you finish, you have to share. Sometimes you need to pace around or wait till it stops stirring you up. And then sometimes you have to read it again. Not because you can't decide about the book but because it hits you so hard that you might just fall to pieces if you don't first get your head screwed back on.

Into The Darkest Corner is one of those books that shake you up. The story seems quite simple. Cathy Bailey has been enjoying the single life long enough to know a catch when she sees one. Gorgeous, charismatic and spontaneous, Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as each in turn falls under his spell. The story starts with a court reporter's transcript and then alternates between a time when Cathy met and fell for Lee and four years after that. It's disconcerting to see carefree and joyful Cathy rattled down to a mess of a person, wearing baggy clothes, hiding in corners, obsessively looking over her shoulder, keeping her hair short to be as unnoticeable as possible and making absolutely no friends. The once lively girl is now the neighbor no one knows anything about. The one who would never even answer the door if you needed to borrow an egg. So what went wrong?

"When I opened the front door I had that same immediate sense that something wasn’t right. It wasn’t a draught, or a smell, or anything tangible. The driveway just had my car on it, and there was no sign of Lee’s car or any other car for that matter. I just knew that someone had been in the house while I’d been out."

Lee is attentive and flattering and just a little intense at the beginning. Cathy, though slightly smothered by his possessiveness and just a little too passionate sex, manages to convince herself that he is truly just as crazy about her as it seems and that is what is making him so intense. Still, through time his controlling behavior scares her a little but her friends are too enchanted by him to believe her. Is she even right? Or is she paranoid, missing her one night stands and not willing to settle down? As Lee's grip on her life slowly becomes stronger and stronger, she is isolated from everything and everyone she knows, backed into the darkest corner she decides to do something to save herself.
But still, what is happening four years later, when she is safe from Lee, who is in prison and can't harm her? Nothing normal, especially after Cathy receives a phone call that sends her into a tailspin in which she watches her life unfold in front of her eyes, again. 

The thing about this book is that is reads like a diary of the girl whose life was shattered and the pieces that were left were not even enough to put together something that resembles a life. And the man who is at the center of her world is intense, charming, passionate, attractive and drawing her in. It's still very difficult to give this book and the story the attention they deserve. Given the fact that it's anything but easy writing a book about such topics, many have tried and failed. Well, if not failed, then succeeded lukewarmly. Brutal, heart-wrenching and harrowing book which will hook you and won't let you go till the point where you don't really care how it ends. Thankfully, the ending is almost as perfect and as believable as you could imagine. Classic.

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