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Book Review: ‘The Dilemma’ by B.A. Paris

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of B.A. Paris’ latest psychological thriller, ‘The Dilemma’. I was lucky enough to take part in the blog tour for this book – you can find that here. I loved this book so much that I just had to review it separately for you! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…

the dilemma

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

** TRIGGER WARNING ** Explores the theme of grief and loss in great detail. Makes detailed references to sex and infidelity. 

‘The Dilemma’ was published on 9th January 2020 and is Paris’ fourth novel, following on from ‘Behind Closed Doors’ (2016),’ The Breakdown’ (2017) and ‘Bring Me Back’ (2018). Paris is from a Franco/Irish background and has lived in both France and England. She previously worked in an international bank, before retraining as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband.

The book has received positive reviews, from the likes of authors such as Louise Jensen: “A beautifully written story of love and loss which will stay with me”, Jane Corry: “This is a poignant, thoughtful family tale with a difference”, TM Logan: “A powerful, beautifully crafted story that ratchets up the tension with every page and packs a huge emotional punch” and KL Slater: “Emotional, gripping… a truly compulsive read.”

‘The Dilemma’ follows the characters of Livia and Adam, leading up to and during Livia’s 40th birthday party. Adam discovers some awful news that day, and battles between telling his wife the truth, or letting her enjoy a final few hours of happiness. Will the family ever be the same again once the night is over?

The narrative is told with each chapter switching between Livia and Adam’s first-person perspectives, giving the reader an in-depth insight to the characters’ thoughts, feeling and emotions. The narrative begins the day before Livia’s party at 8am, and ends the day after the party. As the book only spans a short period of time, the narrative is incredibly detailed and easy to follow, fully immersing the reader in the events.

My favourite character in the novel is definitely Livia. A devoted mother and wife, Livia has always dreamed of having a big 40th birthday party since she was deprived of a big wedding celebration. Livia is really excited about the day, and she wants everything to be perfect. But it soon becomes clear that she is keeping some secrets from her family, and tonight they are becoming extremely overwhelming. Livia attempts to enjoy herself, but there’s something holding her back. Livia is a well-written, three-dimensional character, and I found myself relating to her a lot.

Adam is a kind-hearted, loving family man who truly wants his wife to have the perfect birthday party. When he hears some devastating news, he must battle between telling Livia the truth or continuing to lie to her. His head is telling him one thing, but his heart is leading him in the other direction. Which one will he choose?

** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) Explores the theme of grief and loss in great detail, specifically related to a plane crash in which one of the characters is killed. The novel makes detailed references to sex and infidelity, in which a character has an affair with a married man. All of these issues are explored with appropriate sensitivity – but if you think that they may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.

As the narrative progresses throughout the course of Livia’s party, it becomes more and more clear that both Livia’s and Adam’s secrets are eating away at them. They both have some very difficult decisions to make – but will they choose the right one?

So, let’s talk about the ending! There’s a final dramatic scene in which the truth is finally revealed. This shocking revelation completely tears apart the family … will they ever be able to bounce back from this? I was hooked during the ending and simply couldn’t tear my eyes away. Everything is tied together brilliantly, and I was really satisfied with the ending.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to all of you psychological thriller lovers out there, particularly those of you that enjoy family-based dramas. I truly believe that this book makes for a fantastic reading experience – it is a claustrophobic, skin-crawling family drama that will stay with you long after you read the final page. I absolutely adored this book, and couldn’t fault it if I tried!

Sound good? Click here to purchase ‘The Dilemma’.

Happy reading 🙂

2 thoughts on “Book Review: ‘The Dilemma’ by B.A. Paris

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