Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Behind the Mask is Nothing” as Want to Read:
Behind the Mask is Nothing
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Behind the Mask is Nothing

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  12 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Stef, an overworked teacher who questions her husband’s fidelity, is drawn into a community on a remote Exmoor estate run by the couples counsellor and slowly descends into the cult without even realizing it. Meanwhile, her grandmother, who is writing her memoir about the Hitler Youth girls in Berlin with a mixture of guilt and nostalgia, looks on helplessly as Stef is dra ...more
Paperback, 331 pages
Published May 17th 2017 by Holland House
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Behind the Mask is Nothing, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Behind the Mask is Nothing

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-19
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  12 ratings  ·  9 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Behind the Mask is Nothing
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I don't particularly like to trash books or be overly critical when I post any reviews. I mean I have never published a book-I imagine how difficult that must be. But in my opinion, this book misses the mark. It is extremely confusing and choppy. The main plot involves Stef, a selfish and self absorbed woman approaching mid life. Stef has two healthy daughters and parents and a loving grandmother, Gran. Unfortunately, she has a husband who she believes is straying and a hateful boss who wants he ...more
Jackie Law
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Behind The Mask Is Nothing, by Judy Birkbeck, is a devastating exploration of the abuse of power and the complicity of those who enable such abuse due to their inherent desire to belong. The protagonist is a woman named Stef who is a teacher, a wife, and a mother of two university aged daughters. She has a close and supportive family although, as is the way with families, the shadows from their shared history stretch long.

Stef’s grandmother, Hilda, helped raise Stef and her sister while their pa
Rekha Shane
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have to say I love, love, loved this book! And yet, it wasn't love at first sight. It was a slow burner. To begin with, the story wasn't grabbing me. It felt like it was jumping around too much and the language was too flowery. I just couldn't get a handle on it. But a few short chapters in as I began to make sense of the storylines, everything began to flow beautifully. Birbeck's metaphors had a wonderful cadence to them and I began to draw parallels with Ali Smith's poetic yet humorous style ...more
Jenny Cooper
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
Stef suspects her husband Mark is having an affair and cracks are starting to appear in their relationship. They are introduced to a couples counselor, Oliver, who is the leader of a commune based in a remote part of Exmoor. While Stef feels accepted by the community and becomes fascinated by both the lifestyle and the charismatic leader, Mark become suspicious. As Stef becomes more deeply involved, their relationship deteriorates further and both Mark and Stef’s grandmother, Hilda, can only loo ...more
Elizabeth Robinson
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found Behind the Mask is Nothing a very good read from various angles. To me the characters were extremely believable. I related to Stef well, especially having been a full time teacher and also to Mark. The differences between female and male teachers in their attitudes to the job and relationships with their pupils is accurately shown, along with the pressures of modern day pressures of teaching. Stef's confidence is being eroded both from a professional angle and then in the ensuing mistrus ...more
Anne Clark
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very absorbing and detailed novel dealing with the power and arrogance of cults and their leaders that exist today and in the past, in a Nazi run Germany...with devastating consequences.
Helen Broughton
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this to be a thoroughly absorbing book on the very timely theme of charismatic leadership, and how easily it can become an abuse of power. Stef and her husband are gradually drawn into a 'psychotherapeutic community'. As things begin to unravel for them both the line between a personal development group and a cult become increasingly blurred.

In parallel Stef's grandmother is recollecting her teenage years in Nazi Germany when she was completely swept up by the excitement of the Hitler Yo
Jude Taylor
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was gripped by this thought-provoking, unputtable-down novel which links haunting past events from Nazi Germany with current day issues involving psychological manipulation and mind control. This book came along during a quiet period and I was able to indulge myself, which of course meant that the story came to an end all too soon, but I couldn't put it down. ...more
Bob Newbury
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A poignant modern tale of vulnerability, manipulation and betrayal, coupled with astute parallels with life in the Third Reich and the universality of human susceptibility.

Deep and thought-provoking.
Sumiré Aurora
rated it did not like it
Apr 03, 2020
rated it it was ok
Aug 29, 2019
Christine Paris
rated it it was amazing
Oct 07, 2017
marked it as to-read
Jul 13, 2017
added it
Jul 18, 2017
marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2017
T.J. Burns
marked it as to-read
Sep 30, 2017
marked it as to-read
Oct 22, 2017
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Preparation for the Next Life
  • The Professor's House
  • Akin
  • Open City
  • The Corrections
  • Half a World Away
  • The Great Passage
  • A High Wind in Jamaica
  • In Deep
  • The Travelers
  • Rachel's Holiday (Walsh Family, #2)
  • Coventry: Essays
  • Mrs. Bridge
  • Sympathy
  • Sarong Party Girls
  • To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
  • New York City in 1979
  • Weather
See similar books…
Judy Birkbeck has an MA in Creative Writing from Exeter and has stories published in Litro, Lampeter Review, Liars’ League, Unthology 9, Manchester Review, Aesthetica, Leicester Writes, MIR15, Ellipsis Zine, The Shadow Booth, 2019 Dinesh Allirajah anthology, 2019 Sun Story Award, Lighthouse and Aftermath Magazine, and an essay in Permaculture Magazine. A novel, Behind the Mask is Nothing, is publi ...more

News & Interviews

Ciannon Smart has been holed up in her England home since the pandemic began a year ago, but by no means has she been idle. She’s been on...
15 likes · 3 comments