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…
“No one is born evil. As Winnicott put it, ‘A baby cannot hate the mother, without the mother first hating the baby’”
I can assure you, The Silent Patient is definitely a page turner with a very engaging and gripping plot. I am shocked to known that this is Alex Michaelides’ debut novel. It is very well written! As this is a psychological thriller (which involves a criminal psychotherapist, Theo Faber, who attempts to unravel the mystery of why Alicia Berenson decided to kill her husband, Gabriel Berenson), it goes without saying that certain research must be conducted to allow readers to get to know the skills in dealing with patients with mental problems. I am not a psychotherapist, but I think Alex Michaelides has done a decent research in this regard and there’s not much info dumping, which may result in the overtaking of the gripping plot line of the story.
Throughout the story, Alex Michaelides has left trails and bread crumbs for his readers to guess who is the real murderer or rather, the real reason why Alicia committed murder. Before the last 20 pages or so, I am only giving this a 8/10 star rating and I sort of have an idea why Alicia killed her husband. But when the story reaches its climax, I really did not see the major plot twist coming! Alex Michaelides just practically “lied” to his readers by feeding them with false information! Everything made so much sense when the story reaches the climax as at first I thought there might be some problems with the way the story is structured. But no, the first few hundred pages is to build up the climax of the story!
“…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.”
Indeed, The Silent Patient started off quietly and calmly, but it ended with a dramatic firework! A strong 9/10 star rating (an increase of 1 star due to the plot twist) for this debut work and I definitely will look out for Alex Michaelides’ future works!