THE SILENT PATIENT

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

The book narrates story of a patient who is charged in crime of killing her husband. This leads to a shock resulting in quietness

The real impact of THE SILENT PATIENT comes not in flash or drama, but in the quiet, methodical way in which Michaelides lays bare the innermost workings of his characters. At its core, THE SILENT PATIENT is an exceptional character study: not just of the story’s titular patient, but also of the therapist who makes it his mission to treat her. So who are these characters? Painter Alicia Berenson is the “patient” for whom the book is named. Alicia had a picture-perfect life… that is, until the day she shot her husband five times, leaving him for dead. After this gruesome act, Alicia never spoke another word. For psychotherapist Theo Faber, Alicia is the most intriguing of patients; Theo finds himself drawn to Alicia’s story, determined to treat her and help her find her voice again. There is something deeply tragic and almost mythic about Alicia: Michaelides crafts a character whose complexity and inner turmoil is belied not through verbal communication, but through vivid descriptions of her physical appearance and the artwork she creates at Theo’s urging. So enigmatic is Alicia that she begins to feel like an almost mythic character—a quality I have to believe the author developed intentionally, as he draws parallels between Alicia’s story and that of Alcestis, the woman at the heart of Euripides’ tragedy of the same name. Throughout THE SILENT PATIENT, Alicia is a presence just out of reach and yet everywhere all at once. It’s a fascinating thing to read a book that revolves around a character who can’t tell her own story directly to the reader; Alicia becomes almost like a blank canvas, a place where readers will collect what has been said about her in order to gain a glimmer of insight into the terrible crime she has committed.

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By contrast, readers get up close and personal with psychotherapist Theo. It’s Theo’s story that we follow most closely for the duration of the read: we watch him begin his new job at the Grove, the secure psychiatric unit in which Alicia resides; we watch as he begins his sessions with Alicia, seeking to break through her silence; we watch as he navigates the bureaucracy of the Grove and his colleagues. At the same time as Theo is slowly but surely seeking out meaningful connection with Alicia, so too are readers seeking out a meaningful understanding of Theo’s personal life. For a character who is determined to unveil the secrets of his patient, Theo is, himself, quite hidden from the reader; Michaelides adds yet another layer of mystery here, keeping readers hooked on the gradual unveiling of Theo’s secrets even as Alicia’s secrets are also coming into the light. And when the secrets at the heart of this novel are guaranteed to make your jaw hit the floor. 

It’s work taking a moment to appreciate the intelligence and complexity of plotting that makes THE SILENT PATIENT so richly entertaining. Michaelides makes it look easy, but there is so much at work here, including (but not limited to) multiple timelines and storytelling mediums—and when readers experience the story’s mind-boggling conclusion, they will finally fully realize just how complex a story this really was. Like a literary magician, Michaelides takes a simple premise and, in plain sight, turns it into something greater than the sum of its parts. The final reveal of THE SILENT PATIENT is worth the price of the book alone; it was the most shocking and intelligently plotted reveal I’ve read in ages, and I’m a picky reader when it comes to reveals. If you love a jaw-dropping - yet still totally fair-play - plot twist, the conclusion of THE SILENT PATIENT will deliver. And, the best part: even if you somehow do guess the final reveal of THE SILENT PATIENT, this book is so much more than just “twisty”—the twist is just the cherry on top of a book that is riveting in its own right.


Submitted: June 11, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Anwesha Das Gupta30901220125. All rights reserved.

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