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Review: The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient By: Alex Michaelides

A novel from Book of The Month club, worth the read and worth saying that right off the start! With 323 pages, this novel will entertain you until the very end. Below is the synopsis:

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening, her husband, Gabriel, returns home late from work, 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 sky-rockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure psychiatric unit in North London.
Criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber is captivated by Alicia’s story and jumps at the opportunity to work with her. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a path more unexpected, more terrifying than he ever imagined-a search for the truth that threatens to consume him.
Shocking, thought-provoking, and deeply twisted, The Silent Patient is a spellbinding psychological thriller about violence, obsession, and the dark side of passion.

I would recommend this novel highly. This is a novel that can speak to anyone who has ever felt “crazy” or has ever been accused of being crazy. Alicia spends the whole novel going through her normal life, then things start seeming different and start to change in ways no one believes. Theo spends the beginning part of the novel explaining himself and introducing himself to the reader then begins to explain his fascination with Alicia. As the synopsis pointed out, Alicia is the patient and Theo is the Criminal psychotherapist. The author adds in “journal entries” from Alicia’s point of view throughout the novel which aids in understanding whether she truly is “crazy” or just a victim to an unfortunate situation.

Alicia is married to Gabriel and Theo is married to Kathryn or Kathy as he calls her. As the story unfolds Theo shows us that his marriage starts to fail but also shows us how weak he is mentally. Theo doesn’t want to be alone but also believes no one would, could, or should love him. Which brings the audience to believe he would stick with his wife no matter what because he believed it was all he could get. To most people that would be a good thing, marriage is supposed to withstand trials and tribulations through thick and thin, for better and worse, until the very end. However, in this story he doesn’t handle it the right way in my personal opinion. Which I completely understand is critical to the story line. He needed to react this way to her wrong actions in order for the story to pan out as it did in the end.

I am having a hard time describing this novel to you because there is so much I want to say but if I say it then that will ruin the novel for you if you were to choose to read it. I’ll say this, Theo and Alicia are linked more than we are able to understand until the ending of the book. If you start reading this and get bored, I promise you it becomes worth it in the end to finish it. I wasn’t bored throughout the novel because I was very curious to see how the story unfolds. The Silent Patient has great details and explains a lot of situations clearly to show how they are linked to the story line. I honestly recommend this novel to anyone willing to give it a try. It’s mentally deeper than you’d think for a fictional novel, so I loved that aspect of it.

There are many characters in this story, I have mentioned Theo and his wife Kathy. I have mentioned that Alicia is married to Gabriel. The story also introduces the members at the Grove that work alongside Theo and are in charge of Alicia after she is locked away. There is Professor Diomedes and Indira Sharma. Indira was the person to interview Theo when he first got the job at the Grove. Yuir, Alicia’s head/main nurse-claimed to be the only one she will allow near him with little to no problems ever. Christian was another therapist at the Grove who previously knew and worked with Theo at another facility. They weren’t close to begin with, and things didn’t improve at the Grove. Christian does play an important role toward the end of the story. And Stephanie Clarke who is the manager of Staff at the Grove. There is also Ruth, who was Theo’s therapist. Jean-Felix Martin who was an acquaintance of Alicia, he was the Gallery owner where Alicia displayed her art. It appeared toward the end of the story that Jean and Alicia had a falling out which causes suspicion to Theo while investigating Alicia’s story. Theo also spoke with Alicia’s family Paul (her brother) and brother-in-law named Max.

“The psychoanalyst W.R.Bion came up with the term containment to describe a mother’s ability to manage her baby’s pain. Remember, babyhood is not a time of bliss; it’s one of terror. As babies, we are trapped in a strange alien world, alarmed by hunger and wind and bowel movements, overwhelmed by our feelings. We are quite literally under attack. We need our mother to soothe our distress and make sense of our experience. As she does so, we slowly learn how to manage our physical and emotional states on our own. But our ability to contain ourselves directly depends on our mother’s ability to contain us- if she had never experienced containment by her own mother, how could she teach us what she did not know? Someone who has never learned to contain himself is plagued by anxious feelings for the rest of his life, feelings that Bion aptly titled nameless dread. Such a person endlessly seeks this unquenchable containment from external sources-he needs a drink or a joint to “take the edge off” this endless anxiety.” (Page 85)

This quote from page 85 is one of the many reasons I enjoyed this book. Not only is this quote true but it’s relevant to the specific part of the story at the time. Is a link I found related to W.R.Bion and his containment theory. Great job to the author for doing research and being accurate and factual in his novel!

If you’re looking for the Author you check him out on Twitter or in the link below: You can find his book online, PDF and Audible forms as well. I got my copy through the Book Of The Month club, this novel was one of the options for the month of January 2019. I highly recommend this novel, as it’s a great read! Let me know what your thoughts are. Whether you’re interested in this novel, or the author! Or if you have read it before please feel free to comment below!

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