Guys, Alicia Berenson is a famous artist, happily married and living her best life with her husband in their London home. Then one night, a neighbour calls the police after hearing gunshots ring out from Alicia’s house. Alicia is discovered with bloody hands and a gun. Her husband is tied up and has been shot five times in the face. Alicia appears to be traumatised, becoming mute and refusing or unable to utter an explanation or defence. Her fame draws national interest to her mysterious case and she is committed to the Grove, an asylum for the criminally insane. Theo Faber, the new forensic psychotherapist resumes at the Grove and is taken by Alicia’s case. Despite the opinion and against the advice of other psychiatrists in the facility, Theo believes he can save Alicia and is determined to get the truth about what happened in the Berenson residence on the night of the murder.
The Silent Patient is a fast-paced thriller drama with the wildest twists and turns. Told in first person and alternating between Alicia’s diary entries and Theo’s narration of events, the author masterfully gives depth to every character with details of both their personal and professional lives, and then skilfully weaves their existence together to tell a wholesome compelling story. We get glimpses of Alicia’s relationship with her husband, and her thoughts on her brother in law, friends and neighbours and then we get a contrary perspective of the situation through Theo’s investigation. This leaves it up to us the readers to pick at clues, speculate and try to decipher what the truth could be. Yet, you never see it coming.
Then you have that “Waaaaiiit a miiiinnuuuuteeee….did she? Did he?” moment, the realisation actually left me stunned. Reading this book reminded me of the Girl on the Train where you are completely lost and can’t really see where the story is going but as the story unfolds, the truth slowly floats to the surface and you can finally see it all clearly. Then, I had the “No way. O my goodness…” moment where you are mindblown.
This book was easy to read because the chapters are short and compelling and you can’t wait to see if Alicia was crazy or not. It is Alex Michaelies first book but I’d never have guessed. The characters and events are vividly described and the plot is so well structured.
“…we often mistake love for fireworks – for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm – and constant.”
I liked the straightforward simple language Alex wrote this book in. Not once did I need to reach for a dictionary. The tone was conversational and I could almost consider Theo a friend, easy going and relatable. It’s simple but intriguing and so it keeps you guessing. However, it’s full of surprises and will throw all your best theories right out the window one at a time.
Related: Book Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
“We are made up of different parts, some good, some bad, and a healthy mind can tolerate this ambivalence and juggle both good and bad at the same time. Mental illness is precisely about a lack of this kind of integration – we end up losing contact with the unacceptable parts of ourselves.”
This whole crazy story speaks to the importance of mental health and well being. We are all a little crazy, some more than others. It is a reminder that niether you, me or your psychiatrist has a clean mental slate. We are a product of our experiences and so it is important to be cautious about who we confide in and take well-meaning advice with a pinch of salt.
“You become increasingly comfortable with madness – and not just the madness of others, but your own. We’re all crazy, I believe, just in different ways.”
We are all damaged and all dealing with something emotional or otherwise and you just never know where anyone’s state of mental health or wellbeing is. You never know what anyone is going through and how our actions could impact people unintentionally. I left this book feeling like we need to treat people with caution. You never know what will push the next person over the edge.
It is important to be able to address the people we love when they disappoint us. Bottling it inside, denying their responsibility and fixating on alternative solutions can have devastating consequences for everyone.
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive, and will come forth later, in uglier ways.—SIGMUND FREUD”
On the other hand, the book suggests that our past traumas significantly influences our future reactions to stressful situations. I don’t agree with this. I am of the opinion that as individuals, we are in continuous flux as we interact with other people and our environment and these things define who we become, not just the one really bad event.
Overall, do I recommend this book? Certainly! For adults only though. There’s strong language, a graphic description of suicide, mental illness, stalking and physical violence. I mean, it is quite a dark story. I can’t say too much more or I risk spoiling this book for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. Regardless, add this to your reading list. It is definitely worth paying for.
Have you read The Silent Patient? Let me know your thoughts in the comments
As always, thank you for reading!
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