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….
I finished reading this book some time ago, it became one of my #20booksofsummer challenge, now but since it isn’t out until February thought perhaps I should wait to set down my thoughts but then I thought, why wait?
It all started, back in July, with an intriguing invitation from Orion Publishing……
It was quite hush, hush 🤫 don’t you know! Twitter was awash with silence 🤐 ……
and then an extract came, it was all getting to be very exciting!
Until, finally, the day came – it arrived! …..
At last! Time to read –
So I did.
Well, Alicia did it – you know this right from the start, even the book blurb tells you that, so what’s the mystery? Why the silence?
So I read on. (Note: Me, thinks: ‘Theo’s making such an effort to help her, he’s as intrigued as I am about what happened.’)
Theo is the storyteller, the psychotherapist, who starts to get a bit too caught up with Alicia. He doesn’t care throwing caution to the wind, even when he is at risk, Theo ploughs on determined to find out what happened and give Alicia her voice back.
Does Alicia want to talk? She’s already incarcerated in this institution, The Grove, without much chance of getting out. If she spoke, told her story what would happen? Perhaps she would enter the mainstream prison system and so, presumably, she would also then get the opportunity to be released at some point? Of course, she could be so damaged that this would not be possible.
As a reader you are thinking up all sorts of reasons why Alicia is silent, what really happened, who might know something, could Gabriel have done something terrible, maybe the strange goings on with her gallerist, Jean-Felix Martin.
Set mainly in The Grove we meet Diomedes, Yuri, Christian, Indira, Stephanie, Rowena and Elif. Theo isn’t confined and his curiosity, his need, his desire to breakthrough with Alicia takes him to talk to Max, Tanya, Paul, Lydia, Barbie and Jean-Felix. We get to learn things but does it help? We get to know more about Theo too as he shares his home life and past with us so we meet Ruth and Kathy.
We learn more of Alicia the child, the wife, the friend, the artist. Will she trust Theo be drawn out, begin to heal, to come to terms with what happened, with what she did? Are there some extenuating circumstance? Or is she simply a cold blooded killer who should be exactly where she is?
This book draws you in and you can’t stop reading, will Theo reach Alicia? Will there be a breakthrough? The tension builds until you get almost there, then a little more until… the end and there you have it….. yes, that!
And what a read it was!
Alex Michaelides certainly knows how to weave a twisty, dark, clever tale with a cast of wonderful characters and an ending that will take your breath away.
Surely, you didn’t think I was going to tell you the ending? That would be so wrong now, wouldn’t it?
Publisher: Orion (7 Feb. 2019)
Hardcover: 352 pages. Language: English. ISBN-10: 1409181618 ISBN-13: 978-1409181613
The Silent Patient will be published in the US by @CeladonBooks an imprint of Macmillan Publishers
Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus in 1977. He wrote the film The Devil You Know starring Rosamund Pike, and co-wrote The Brits are Coming.The Silent Patient is first novel, and was inspired by a post graduate course in psychotherapy, and working part-time at a secure psychiatric unit.
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