Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for The Silent Patient, the debut thriller from Alex Michaelides. This is a book that has been highly advertised and has been on my want to read list since last year so a huge thanks go to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to join the tour and to publishers Orion Books who provided an advance copy for review. Here is what the book is all about:
The Bookish Bits
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.
Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.
And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?
THE SILENT PATIENT is the gripping must-read debut thriller of 2019 – perfect for fans of THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by A.J. Finn and THE GIRL BEFORE by JP Delaney.
Now let’s be honest – when you see a book on the internet which has a high profile advertising campaign, a lot of word of mouth recommendations and is being billed as the big hitter of 2019, who doesn’t take a step back and wonder if it can really live up to expectations? It’s been a much discussed point on internet forums with those who say they simply switch off from a book because it has been ‘over-hyped’ and they automatically assume the worst. Well I can honestly say that in this case, should you choose to ignore the book simply because you’ve seen it on Twitter too many times, then you are cutting off your nose to spite your face. This book is fabulous.
On the surface, this is the story of Alicia, a woman who has been in a secure hospital facility since the day she was convicted of murdering her husband. Her story, or at least the elements of it set in the hospital, is told through the mind of Theo, a Psychotherapist who is fascinated, if not borderline obsessed, with Alicia’s case. And why? Because ever since she murdered her husband, a man for whom she was believed to have an unending love, Alicia has not spoken a word. Not in her own defence, not to her friends and not to her Doctors. Nothing.
And that’s all you need to know. The story takes use through Theo’s recruitment into the hospital, his early introductions to Alicia and his attempts to get her to talk when no one else could, by using the one thing that means the most to her – art. Interspersed within Alicia’s story we get to learn more about Theo who is, in himself, a fascinating character with a lot more going on than a desire to ‘save’ Alicia. There are also entries from a journal written by Alicia which acts as her voice throughout the story, expressing in writing the thoughts, feelings and memories that she can bring herself to give voice to.
This is the kind of story that will either capture your imagination from page one or it won’t but I have to say I was one of the lucky ones as I was invested from the very start. It is not a fast paced book, you wouldn’t expect it, but the pacing does suit the story perfectly. The author uses the narrative and interactions between the main characters to great effect, building tension and atmosphere and casting doubt over motivation and dedication without necessarily needing to resort to any big climatic moments.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some big reveals and surprises along the way. After all, it’s not every day that a perfect marriage ends in murder. Most people generally consider a trial separation or even, worst case, divorce as the first logical step in resolving marital difficulties. The surprising reveals are used sparingly and to great effect as this is a character driven piece, not a who-dunnit.
Speaking of characters, I have to say I was immediately drawn to both Alicia and Theo. Despite not saying much there was something about Alicia, particularly when it came to her diary entries, that just sucks you in and makes you want to get to know her. She has a passionate and artistic temperament which seems to clash rather dramatically with the placid and mute person she becomes. The diary sections are not great in number, but again the sparing use adds more tension and suspense to the story. It felt like a perfect balance.
And Theo. Theo, Theo, Theo. I was torn between really liking him and his altruistic intentions, and not entirely trusting him. He goes to great lengths to gain work at the hospital but he seems like a level and decent guy. We learn a lot about him and his upbringing and family life, and it goes some way to explaining why he is so fixed on Alicia’s story.
With a brilliantly descriptive narrative I would easily picture all that was happening, the setting being brought to life in my mind’s eye. Totally intriguing with complex plotting, full of secrets and misdirection, and with fascinating characters that you will desperately want to understand and know more about. I know I certainly did.
About the Author
Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother. He read English at Cambridge University and received a MA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. He wrote the film Devil You Know, starring Rosamund Pike, and co-wrote The Con is On, starring Uma Thurman and Tim Roth. The Silent Patient is his first novel.
Author Links: Twitter | Instagram
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