“Remember, love that doesn’t include honesty doesn’t deserve to be called love.”
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, tells the story of yet another woman with a seemingly perfect life… Alicia Berenson is a famous painter married to a fashion photographer, with a lovely house in Hampstead, London (do authors think that all ‘perfect’ women live in North London)? But one evening, her husband Gabriel comes home and Alicia shoots him five times in the head; she then refuses to speak again.
Alicia’s silence and her lack of denial turns this tragedy into a mystery that captures the public imagination; her artwork and Gabriel’s photography increase in value. But Alicia is locked away in a psychiatric unit where she remains highly medicated and no-one is any the wiser as to why she killed her husband.
Enter Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist who is fascinated with the case and desperate to work with Alicia. His determination to get her speaking so that he can find out why she shot her husband becomes an obsession. But what really happened that night?
What can I say about The Silent Patient?
Everyone was recommending this book and talking about how shocked they were by the mind blowing twist, so I was looking forward to reading it. However, I was underwhelmed.
The story was slow and I couldn’t get into it; usually I devour these sorts of books in one sitting but as very little was happening, my attention wandered and I actually found it quite boring. However, I persevered because I was curious about the ending.
I came up with three possible theories (within the first couple of chapters). After discarding the idea that Alicia was actually the psychiatrist (and treating Theo, the patient), I was still convinced about the other two. Turns out they were both right… And then the whole story seemed a bit pointless, because only his arrogance would have led him to wanting to make her talk!
Although I guessed the ending, many people haven’t so I will give some credit to the author. That said, it’s a shame Michaelides didn’t spend more time on the rest of the book, making the events more plausible and filling in the plot holes (and correcting a few typos – but we’ll blame the editor for those). Parts of it showed a distinct lack of research into the subject, as well as an old-fashioned view of mental health, women and the practice of psychiatry.
The concept for this book was there, but the writing was dull and not engaging. Few of the characters were believable, in fact they were static and listless; I just didn’t care what happened to any of them.
Sadly, I won’t be recommending it.
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