Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
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….
“We’re all crazy, I believe, just in different ways.”
This book caused quite the stir when it came out – everyone who read it seemed to absolutely love it. I’m not sure why I put it off. Maybe I was nervous about the hype, or maybe I just wasn’t in the thriller mood. But either way, I sincerely regret waiting to read this book. I can only be grateful that the ending wasn’t spoiled for me somewhere along the way.
Before, Alicia Berenson had everything: a loving husband, a great career as a painter, a beautiful house. And then, for no reason at all, she throws it all away. When her husband Gabriel comes home from work, she shoots him five times, slits her own wrists, and never speaks a word again.
Because of her refusal to speak, she’s sentenced to a psychiatric hospital called the Grove, where she remains silent for the next six years. Enter Theo Faber: the newest psychotherapist at the Grove. He’s determined to find a breakthrough with Alicia, and help her find her voice again. But as he gets more and more invested in her case, he discovers more and more things about himself and his own life, and he doesn’t necessarily like what he finds.
“That’s how therapy works. A patient delegates his unacceptable feelings to his therapist; and she holds everything he is afraid to feel, and she feels it for him. Then, ever so slowly, she feeds his feelings back to him.”
This book is told primarily from Theo’s point of view, but my favorite parts were the parts of Alicia’s diary sprinkled in. I wish there had been more of them, quite honestly. I actually listened to this book on audio, and I absolutely loved it. Highly recommend! The narrators were fantastic.
I know some people said they were able to guess the twists in this book, but I honestly wasn’t. I was so shocked when the biggest twist of all hit that I literally said “wait, what?!” out loud and rewound the audiobook to listen to the chapter again. I love when I can’t guess the ending, AND when the answer isn’t so completely out of left field that it seems ridiculous. The author hit the nail on the head with this one.
I will say that the first 40% of the book or so was a little slow for me, but the chapters were short and helped it to fly by a little bit faster. Once I hit the 50% mark, I couldn’t put it down. There are a few trigger warnings, so beware: talks of ‘crazy’, suicide attempts, violence, abuse, cheating, stalking. I don’t want to say more, because I don’t want to give anything away, but I hope you like this book as much as I did, and are just as surprised by the ending!