This début psychological thriller kept readers guessing until the end. A huge marketing campaign hooked readers with #BreaktheSilence, so everybody wanted to know why Alicia shot her husband. The Silent Patient quickly became a staple on bestseller lists.
This is a debut that feels like the work of a very accomplished writer. The plot, characters and style are vivid enough to warrant devouring it in a day, immersed in the world of Alicia and Theo... In The Silent Patient, Michaelides has managed to deliver a high-octane, thought-provoking read reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith, but with its own completely fresh take on the psychological thriller.
Watch out for this on beach towels and deck chairs this summer; I'm sure it will be everywhere.
delivered in crisp, functional prose, and its tale of infidelity, sexual jealousy and murder is laced with persuasive details of clinical practice and nuggets of therapeutic wisdom. Your pleasure in it will rest on how well you respond to a twist that will either devastate you with its carefully poised audacity or irritate you by the degree of contrived narrative misdirection employed in its delivery.
Six years ago, Alice, the painter at the centre of Alex Michaelides’s The Silent Patient... was found guilty of killing her photographer husband, but with diminished responsibility. Now she’s in a secure forensic unit, unable or unwilling to speak. Interleaved with extracts from Alice’s diary, Theo, the psychotherapist narrator, recounts his efforts to end her silence. A much-hyped print debut by a screenwriter, the book has an old-fashioned feel, recalling novels from the 1960s. Its combination of a creaky melodramatic plot and a repellent cast of ego-driven shrinks and arty toffs could well induce many readers to give up long before its big twist arrives.
The much-trumpeted debut novel from screenwriter Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient... is the story of convicted killer Alicia Berenson, an artist who apparently tied her husband to a chair and shot him repeatedly in the face, before retreating into silence. Psychotherapist Theo Faber applies for a job at the institution where she is held in the hope of making her speak, and the narrative alternates between his account of the proceedings and Alicia’s diary, as doctor/patient boundaries begin to blur. It’s fairly obvious from the off that there’s more to Faber’s motivation than mere fascination with a notorious case, but the eventual sleight of hand is deft; however, the level of contrivance may leave readers feeling that the novel fails to live up to the hype.
The “silent patient” of Alex Michaelides’s impressive debut is Alicia Berenson, a talented artist accused of killing her husband by pumping five bullets into him. There is no doubt about her guilt, but no apparent reason for her action.
The silence is her total refusal to speak, not just about the killing, but altogether.... That and Faber’s tactics in reaching out to her — often contrary to the advice of his colleagues — are at the core of the novel. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the psychology at the centre of the story, but The Silent Patient is intelligent, imaginative and a terrific read.