THE SILENT PATIENT | ALEX MICHAELIDES – Book Review
Ratings: 5/5 Inkly Stars
I pulled out the copy of the play, Alcestis. I slid it across the coffee table. Alicia glanced at it.“‘Why does she not speak?’ That’s what Admetus asks. And I’m asking you the same question, Alicia. What is it that you can’t say? Why do you have to keep silent?”-Theo Faber, The Silent Patient.
Alicia Berenson, thirty-three years old, is a painter and her husband Gabriel Berenson is a fashion photographer. Their life seems to be perfect until a terrible and surprising incident happens. Alicia kills her husband with five gunshots to his face and never utters a word about it again.
It draws public attention and criticism that she is very notorious and purely evil. Her paintings get famous, especially her last painting of herself with a blank expression. People wonder why would she do it, but her only response is her silence just like that of Alcestis.(See Chapter 2 in book of the last chapters).
Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, waited for this opportunity to apply for a job at the Grove (the forensic unit where Alicia is taken under supervision) and witness Alicia’s condition. All he ever wanted was for him to be her psychotherapist so that he can help her, to somehow find her voice and give life to the truth about the dreadful incident.
Will Alicia ever talk again? What truth are we going to find out?
I love searching for books to read, and I have heard a lot about this book for quite some time now.”The Silent Patient” was very hyped, and since lots of good books are released this year I totally forgot about it, until I remembered it again. I was browsing for good books of the year, and it popped out as the number one, and what better way than to read it and judge it by myself.
The first chapter is like a slap on the face of how the book is going to be. It narrates that Alicia Berenson killed her husband. As to how and why is a big question, because after she kills him she stops talking. It is a great start for a book, and it gives an overview of why the story exists and how to find the truth. The first chapter became the stimulus that kept pushing me to read more!
As for Alicia, I was bewildered about why she stops talking altogether. Her last painting before the incident, is a painting of herself, with a blank expression and is entitled Alcestis. The book explains what the story of Alcestis is. (You can find it in chapter 2 and the last part of the book). I was in disarray and awe of her character’s stubbornness and persistence. She is committed to not speaking anything along with a matching expression: all blank and empty. I cannot explain a lot since all she does throughout most of the book is be silent and speak through her body language. She is revealed mostly to be empty. (I can’t explain more because it will then be a spoiler.)
For Theo Faber, his devotion to helping Alicia is admirable. He is a psychotherapist but seems to be more like a detective since he is using every piece of information just to figure out how to break Alicia’s silence. He approaches everyone who might have a clue on the matter. Is she guilty? Is she covering up for someone? What is she hiding? Why did she stop talking? These are all questions you will somehow ask together with Theo. Whatever clue he finds, he always tries his best, pushes through the things that will somehow reach Alicia’s heart and maybe move her to finally speak.
The book has taken me aback. The flow of the story is like chapter 1, then jumps to chapter 10, then back to chapter 3 then goes to chapter 9. Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the story, especially near the end messed up my mind. I was so confused as to what is happening and why. I had to give it a pause and think of everything, read the sentences once more before I finally understood it.
The ending shocked me. It somehow reminded me of Verity, and if you’ve read it, you might sympathize with me (but again, we may have different opinions). The flow of the story is smooth, and the ending leads you into a spiral. It’s like you need to find a way to get back to the story again, to be able to digest everything and understand it.
It was indeed an amusing story! All I can say is the author is creative and crafty in writing this book. He has arranged everything very nicely. The first few chapters has a considerable impact on the readers to keep them hooked, and subsequent chapters that will give one the feeling of “ahhh” which subsequently turn into “whhaat?” kind of reactions. He has me dancing on his strings throughout the story. I like how this book turns out to be.
The ending is a cliffhanger (little spoiler) however, I think it is a fitting end for the story. I would love to read a more detailed story as to what happened to Alicia, and Theo and the other characters in the story. Nevertheless, I think the ending is quite realistic, and it leaves it up to us as to how we imagine the end to be. Must be harsh, but I think quite appropriate to not spoil the mood of the ending.
What I like about the book:
- The characters give us the impression that sometimes it becomes impossible not to be suspicious of them. I think it is a creative way to confuse readers.
- Shocking revelations which are stimulating.
- The flow of the story is unexpectedly good. It just stunned me.
What I dislike about the book:
- The cover isn’t attractive and pleasing. I think it is too simple and didn’t depict much of the story. I think it gives a weak impression to readers who judge a book by its covers. Negative points to the book for this.
Overall, this is an excellent read! It keeps up to my expectation. Great read! Recommended!