The Stranger in My Bed by Karen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love the title of this book and the subtle double entendre. I can’t imagine any woman in an abusive or coercive (and so often the two go hand-in-hand) hasn’t, at some point, wondered who the stranger the man she’s married or living with has become when the abuse starts. Suddenly, or perhaps subtly over a period of time, he’s become a monster. I say he. I’m aware that this can work both ways and that men are often on the receiving end of similar such bewildering and destructive behaviour. In Freya, I see someone who is bewildered, utterly. The thing about manipulation is that it is just that. So often you might start out wondering what it is that is wrong in you that is making this sometimes loving and caring person into that monster – and of course that is reinforced, repeatedly. Freya finally allows herself to realise it is not her, that the blame is not hers and that she’s okay, and makes up her mind to leave. This is by far the bravest thing any woman in such a relationship can do – think about it, you are so manipulated you may have nowhere TO go, no financial independence, children to consider, their upheaval, their schooling. Yes, the alternative may be to expose them to an abusive relationship, but if it happens behind closed doors you pray they don’t see it. Would she stay when he was injured, when the part of the man she fell in love with might come to the fore? I think, yes, because through all of her mixed emotions, her caring gene would come to the fore. To be caring, a fundamentally nice person, is not to be weak, but it can cause so much inner conflict. So, did Phil deserve what happened to him, did he deserve to die, as the narrator of the epilogue hoped he did. Did Freya wish him dead? This compelling story explores emotion at its rawest within abusive relationships. I would highly recommend it. The ending is most satisfying!