Monday, April 6, 2020

Book Review: The Silent Patient

I can't even remember how I heard of this book but once I started reading it I think I was mixed up on which book I thought it was but nonetheless, it was pretty darn good. I also have to give a shout out to my friend Suzy, she encouraged me to get my ass in gear in reading this. (I told you I'd finish it!)
The Silent Patient - Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him... 

I'll be honest with you, when I first started this I really struggled. It started a little too slow for me. It is almost fully narrated by Theo, the psychotherapist who seemingly becomes obsessed with Alicia. Alicia is in a psychiatric hospital for the rest of her life for the murder of her husband Grabriel. Gabriel's murder was so grizzly that even Alicia is basically muted from the trauma of it. She's convicted since she is silent and unable/unwilling to contribute to her defense and that's that.

Until Theo sees a position opening at The Grove, the facility that Alicia has been living in. At the beginning of the book it becomes fairly clear he's obsessed with her and her case though it isn't clear why, and he leaves his stable, predictable job to (hopefully) be a part of Alicia's care team even though The Grove is in danger of closing.

I thought Theo came off kind of like a nut because he was so hyper focused on Alicia and though he seemed like a fairly decent and confident psychotherapist, it always felt like there was a stalker element to him. While he was there he runs into an old work acquaintance and neither of them like each other, colorful residents, a Director who almost seems like he's being pushed out of The Grove (for good reason??), and of course, Alicia.

Once Alicia begins her sessions with Theo it seems fairly hopeless. When Theo gets a clear sign from Alicia she's not having it, he isn't deterred. He continues on, desperate to get Alicia to talk but also have her tell him what happened the night her husband was murdered. Theo turns into a detective even, visiting remaining family of Alicia's but also the gallery that kept her paintings. Everyone in Alicia's life is suspect and all of them seem a bit off, and all of them portray Alicia as being paranoid and maybe even a little unhinged but Theo doesn't fully believe that.

The best part of the book is the last third because everything starts rolling downhill and even the last 50 pages are maybe the best part of the book. All of the strings start weaving together into the tapestry of a bizarre and sad story.

I really liked how the author pulled this together, his writing style is easy to follow and keeps you hooked chapter to chapter, made even easier by the short chapters. I really liked Alicia's revenge almost, this is a woman who, despite every obstacle in front of her, her quick thinking and brilliance made it all come full circle.

My main complaint was Theo's odd, seemingly pointless personal story line with his wife Kathy felt bumpy and unfinished. I had a hard time deciding what was the past and what was the present (or maybe it didn't matter), but also, it never really had an ending. Theo had an ending (kind of) but I wanted to know what was the end of the Theo & Kathy story. You string me along all through the book, the least you can do is giving me a finish there. I also wanted just a little bit more from Alicia's ending. I mean, we get one... kind of. But I just wanted a little more. To be fair, I have a hard time saying goodbye to books in general so don't let that hang you up on this one.

Definitely a worth while read if you like a good suspense or you need something that would be a quick read. Once the story picked up I was able to get through it quickly. I would definitely read something from this author again. I would give this one a 4 1/2 star, rounded up to 5.


1 comment:

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I'm glad you ended up liking this one overall. It's on my wish list to hopefully get/read soon.