1. Monday · Book Reviews

Book Review – Behind Closed Doors By Karen J. Mossman

For transparency I received this book as a prize for being selected as the best story in the Dandelion Anthology’s Love Ever After which I am part of, it in no way has affected my review or influenced the final rating I give it…

We begin as always with the blurb taken from Goodreads.

Kerry tries to protect her sister but she can’t protect her mum or herself from Bill, her stepfather. He’s mean and volatile and likes to drink.

When she meets Tommy, they fall in love and she finds out his last girlfriend brought trouble to his nice normal family. Not wanting to jeopardise their relationship and do the same, Kerry tries to keep her secrets behind closed doors.

Eventually, the bruises and the lies tell their own story. She can’t hide the fact Bill is wrecking their family and deeper family issues threaten to destroy the best thing that ever happened to her – Tommy.

A coming of age story set to a backdrop of seventies music and fashion.

I was born in 71 so although my teenage years were spent in the 80’s there are many things that were not that different, Although there was no abuse in my house, I can certainly relate to a time where dad held all the family finances and mum received an amount of cash each week to pay the bills and take care of the house. I remember the cheesecloth tops, and my dad telling me I was not leaving the house when he judged a skirt to be too short, the reality for my generation as well as the previous ones was that it was normal for a parent to give you a backhander or a clip round the ear, that parents demanded respect and the phrase ‘living under my roof’ was one every teenager heard at some point,

Luckily Kerry finds a knight in shining armour, not a trope I normally like but I fully appreciate in this time it was almost impossible for a female to escape an abuse patriarchal figure alone. I was fully immersed in this book and read it in one sitting, however there were two small niggles.

First, was Howard, he is introduced as Kerry’s boring boyfriend, a complete contrast to the sexy hero Tommy, but within  few days of their break up he is suddenly at a house party thrown by friends of Tommy, it just jarred slightly because if he had been the party type Kerry might never have looked at Tommy (well okay she might still have had a sneaky peek but she wouldn’t have dumped Howard and flirted). The second was the Irish Issue, it is brought up that they are on opposite sides of the religious divide, yet neither set of parent raises this issue, and as Catholics I would certainly have expected Tommy’s parents to at least talk about it even if the were not practising Catholics, especially when he moves to join her in Ireland and proposes, this is the 70’s after the Bloody Sunday Massacre, so even if neither parent cared about their different religions they would certainly have been scared for them.

All that being said, these were not niggles that I thought about until after I finished the book, and let me say, it should have a warning on the front, telling you to grab the tissues befoer you start reading, because you are going to need them.

So the final rating is a blubbering five out of 5 stars.

3d rendering of 5 gold stars

5 thoughts on “Book Review – Behind Closed Doors By Karen J. Mossman

  1. Thank you for the review, Paula. I’m glad you enjoyed it enough to have that kind of effect on you. 🙂

    It was interesting to read about the niggles. The party was not really clarified, and perhaps it should have been. It wasn’t a friend of Tommy, as such, just someone he vaguely knew, and yes she might have met him there, but that’s the way it goes.

    As for the other niggle, you are quite correct. This was the first book I ever wrote, and I was a lot younger at the time. The troubles in Northern Ireland never actually occurred to me whilst writing. And yet, of course, his parents would be a little worried.

    In 1982, I visited Bunbeg after flying into Belfast, where there were armed police and barricades. Once we got into the countryside of southern Ireland, it felt very different. The village of Bunbeg seemed far removed from the ‘troubles’ and whilst there it was never mentioned, so my focus was just on the innocence of the village. If to rewrite it, and I’m not. It would certainly add an interesting spin, and Tommy’s parents would definitely discuss it. If I dug deep enough, I’m sure that the ‘troubles’ did have an effect on the village where some might have had connections.

    Thanks again for the good and constructive review. 🙂

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      1. I am glad you enjoyed the review and understood my niggles lol I always believe in being totally honest in reviews, I did love the book and I did need a couple of tissues, I have an Irish heritage which I discovered more about doing my family tree, this maybe why the fact the troubles weren’t mentioned resonated more than it may with other readers, it also speaks volumes to your writing that I was still thinking about the book after to have niggles, half the books I have read lately I have forgotten an hour after reading .

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      2. Ooh yes, family history. I did mind 20 years ago and most of all it’s uncovering the hidden stories that fascinated me most. But yes, I see why you would pick up on that.

        For me, and I agree, is a book that stays with you for a long time afterwards. Lol! That would make a great blog post, wouldn’t it!

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