Book Review : The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
I’ve found my ‘Book of the Year‘
It may seem premature to declare it as early as July, especially given the stellar line up of titles on my ‘to read‘ list. But I think this won’t change by December (or even beyond) – because of just how brilliant Alex Michaelides‘ debut novel “The Silent Patient” is.
I picked it up to read over breakfast. All through a busy day, I was constantly tugged towards it, grabbing every chance to read a few chapters. With all my work done by 10 p.m., I sat in a quiet bedroom. The rest of my family was deep asleep.
I, however, was trapped inside a world created by a gifted writer, unable to return to my own until everything was resolved, explained, settled. That happened around one ‘o’ clock in the morning… and only then could I go to bed!
Look, I’m a prolific reader, and have devoured thousands of books. And so for me, to be a contender for ‘best read of the year‘, a book has to check several boxes. This one does.
It’s a beautifully narrated tale. The writing flows smoothly, without pause or distraction. The language is lovely, with some great turns of phrase and pithy quotes. Like this one:
“Somehow grasping at vanishing snowflakes is like grasping at happiness; an act of possession that instantly gives way to nothing.”
But above all else, “The Silent Patient” has a gripping storyline.
Alicia, accused of shooting her husband dead, won’t speak a word. Not in defense, or explanation. Not after she’s tried, sentenced, and incarcerated in a mental institution. And not even after Theo, a psychotherapist with an intense desire to make her talk again, makes her treatment his personal responsibility.
That’s the key.
The story hums along at a fast clip. It really moves. No scene is wasted. No character extraneous. No incident irrelevant. Everything matters, matches, means.
And when the penny finally drops, things suddenly fall into place just a couple of pages before the Big Reveal… delivering a dopamine rush to rival a Christie mystery or MacLean thriller!
Taking a tense suspense novel to a satisfying climax isn’t easy – or common. In fact, it’s very rare to see a story deliver on a long built up promise – but “The Silent Patient” does it brilliantly.
It came as no surprise, then, to learn that the author Alex Michaelides was screenwriter for the 2013 film ‘The Devil You Know‘ and ‘The Brits Are Coming‘ (2018).
“The Silent Patient“, like my pick last year – A.J.Finn‘s “The Woman in the Window” – is from the genre of psychology crime thrillers. But it’s no dull exploration of the dark human psyche, but an exciting voyage of vibrant humanity, emotion and feeling…
“I felt an unfamiliar happiness just being in her company, as though a secret door had been opened, and Kathy had beckoned me across the threshold into a magical world of warmth and light and color.”
… but tinged with the cruel, harsher realities of the human state, as well.
After all, as Theo’s therapist tells him:
“Remember, love that doesn’t include honesty doesn’t deserve to be called love.”
BOOK REVIEW: “The Silent Patient” – by Alex Michaelides
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