The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.
Book of the Month choice January 2019.
Finished June 19, 2020.
Synopsis from GoodReads:
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…
There are *spoilers* from here. Please read at your own risk.
Finally, my long awaited thoughts on this book. Even if the only person waiting is me, it feels good to get this book out of my head. There was so much hype surrounding this book I was almost afraid to read it. It was all over Instagram and Facebook, it won the GoodReads Choice Award in 2019 in its genre and was a Book of the Month 2019 finalist. That means A LOT A LOT of people loved this book. As of today it has a average 4.09 star rating with more than 369,000 rating on GoodReads. That is insane to me. But, I am trying to get caught up on my BOTM readings and this was the next one up, I’ve put it off long enough.
First, I would like to talk about this cover. It gives me the creeps every time I see it, even now, knowing the story, I still get chills if I look at it too long. It shows a woman behind a canvas, almost trapped behind it, with a section torn across her mouth as if she is finally read to speak and scream her accusations, like she can finally breathe. But her eyes and nose are still trapped behind the canvas. Will she ever get out? It encompasses the book amazingly.
The book reads like a dairy (I might be the odd opinion on this, though). Two, in fact. Theo Faber’s and Alicia Berenson’s. The book opens with the first entry in Alicia’s diary. This is our first impression of her, a great mind who thinks critically of everything, an artist who paints by her emotions, and who is madly in lover her husband, Gabriel. She would do almost anything for him, he saved her. We then go on to meet Theo Faber. The criminal psychotherapist who is on a mission to help Alicia prove her innocence, because you see, she shot her beloved husband, five times in the head and then tried to kill herself afterwards.
Theo starts us at the beginning. Where he went to university and how he become a psychotherapist and how he maneuvered his way into becoming Alicia’s therapist. Now that he has her in his care he will stop at nothing to unearth her secrets and find out why she stopped speaking. Theo starts to investigate everyone who knows Alicia and starts putting together all the clues that lead to the night she pulled the trigger on her husband. He reports all that he finds back to Alicia in their sessions and when she feels that he is getting closer to finding it out, she hands him something. Her diary. None of us, including Theo, know why she gave it to him. Does it hold her secrets, are the clues in there about why she killed her husband? Only Alicia knows the real answer. This transaction was a huge turning point in the story and we don’t know it yet.
The rest of the book follows Theo around with his investigation and trying to get Alicia to break her silence. He is obsessed with the WHY of her actions. Why did she killer her husband? Why is she silent, why has she STAYED silent for years after the murder? And, because of Theo’s own past, he becomes obsessed with the what. What happened to Alicia in her past to make her the woman she is?
This book is gripping and held me from page 10 or so. Some parts I felt were slow and not necessary but thinking back on the book those moments were vital to the story. There were so many red herrings throughout the book you really couldn’t afford to miss a thing. It was in these slower parts of the book when you try and piece the story together. Emphasis on the word “try.” The way this book takes you on the investigation with Theo you are constantly looking for the smallest clues to help solve the mystery, you read into the tiniest of words, and how they are placed on the paper, or said by a character. And it’s for this reason I almost missed the twist, the delicious moment of the book when everything you thought you knew is unlocked, untied, and thrown out the window and run over. It is such a huge moment I wasn’t looking for it. I was looking for the tiny parts for clues. The author dropped this bit SO nonchalant that I missed it. I was a few pages past it when I said, “wait….what?” and had to go back and reread it. I am pretty sure THAT is why this book is surrounded by all the hype. It was fantastic.
I am now recommending this book to everyone I know. Even a few I don’t know. I want someone else to feel this betrayal with me LOL. So, I am doing the same to you if you are reading this. Read this book. It is amazing. You will have so many emotions throughout.
But I feel like I would not be doing my duty as a survivor of self harm if I didn’t say to you now, this book contains triggers. If you are triggered easily, please tread carefully. Keep your mental well-being at the forefront of your mind, and make sure you know when to tap out and rest so you can tap back in and continue or stop all together.
Leave a comment below if you want to talk about it!
Thank you for reading!!
Chels’ Book Stop ❤