June 30, 2004
The 1950's, an era in which families taught their daughters how to prepare
for married life. This was an interesting decade in which many of your grandparents were settling into comfortable
lives and having children (your parents- perhaps). Women were encouraged, and more so expected to stay at home, keep
house, raise children and obey their spouse.
Such was life for Valerie OConnor, a woman who grew up in the 50's. By the summer of 1955 at the tender age of 18 Valerie visits her sister in Boston where she falls in love
with a striking young man named, Jack Marsh. Jack had served in the Korean War, was smooth, he was worldly in many things.
Against Martin O'Connor's better instincts, by the end of December Valerie and Jack are wed.
Their wedding night turns into a complete disaster, as Jack is only interested in satisfying
his needs, in turn Valerie has a lifelong repulsion to sex. Shortly after Jack whisks his new bride to Seattle where things begin to unravel. Even so, Valerie performs her wifely duties and is thrilled after having given birth to
five children before she is given news that she cannot have anymore due to health reasons.
Behind Closed Doors spans across time and into a two generations of the Marsh family and
its secrets. The author's descriptive work reveals one of society's worst social problems: domestic violence, focusing on an abuser and a co-dependent
victim. A social problem worthy of academic debate, and one that still exists today.
Afraid to seek help from society; Valerie feels bound by traditional Irish-Catholic beliefs that it is wrong to air
your dirty linen in public. She attempts to hide the problem for many years, during which the situation
worsens, as Jack's drunken outbursts spiral out of control. The Marsh children fear for their own safety. All of which
later begin to exhibit a range of problem behaviors. Problems, Valerie can't or won't face.
Behind Closed Doors is filled with psychological suspense. Maybe after reading this novel, all you women out there will understand your Mothers and/or Grandmothers a little
bit better. I found this book particularly riveting, powerful, and engaging. The
torment Valerie receives, accepts, then takes into her own hands and survives is amazing!
NEVER BORING! No one would be wasting their money on this book. It's a fascinating read even if you feel you have no
reason to take an interest.
Reviewed by M. Romero