{Audiobook} Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient

Alex Michaelides

Narrators: Louise Brealey // Jack Hawkins

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, 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 skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive. 

Publisher: Celadon Books

Published: February 5th 2019

Suicide, Infidelity, Drug Abuse, Child Abuse, Sexual Assault, Murder, self-harm, Stigmatising Mental Health, Racism, Body Shaming.

Per usual, the performance here was really enjoyable. there’s something satisfying about finding a narrator that fits the atmosphere if not conforms to it and Brealey as well as Hawkins managed to deliver.

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive, and will come forth later, in uglier ways. —SIGMUND FREUD” 

As mentioned in my The Maidens review, I did wish I had started off with this book as my introduction to Michaelides works. And now that’s we’re here… it was fine. I’m enjoying his quiet genre method of writing, how everything unfolded. And the longer I’d sat on this review, the more I’m finding his books to become a guilty pleasure/comfort reading experience.

Unlike with The Maidens, whereas I was intrigued enough to be astute and looking closely at the story, this one I was just along for the ride. Which isn’t a bad thing, some stories are not for psychoanalyzing. But also, I can appreciate the quick and easy nature of these reads. For a 9 hour listen, it breezed by in an effortless way, engaging me enough to pay attention while also being easy enough to digest and get my normal duties done in a multitasking sort of way. 

Now, we know how I am with setting, but the setting here is a bit boring; not in a full way seeing as we spend most of our time in a psych ward but just… description wise, the fact that we’re bouncing between 2.5 areas just… I was uninterested. Yet, that’s where plot and mystery comes in…

Which I was intrigued by. I mean, yes, I did want to give the author a second chance to see if he was my cup of tea, but the premise as a whole was interesting. Execution though? Well… I may be nitpicky when it comes to continuity and such but… it was the characters, specifically the main character that just had me making sure two plus two equalled four. Let me explain.

“There’s so much pain everywhere, and we just close our eyes to it. The truth is we’re all scared. We’re terrified of each other.” 

Michalides has a tendency to make his characters the luckiest people on Earth. Now, I liked Theo. I liked him in the sense of him being the main character and I’m supposed to be agreeable towards him. However, he felt like a passenger to the story, at least up until the ending. It was just him viewing things that happened around him and I don’t know if that was intentional but… it hindered his character for me.

But also, I didn’t connect to any of the characters. I didn’t LIKE any of the characters. I didn’t DISLIKE any of the characters. I’m very static when it comes to them. All of them. The titular Silent Patient was interesting in her mystery, but I didn’t care what happened to her. Again, I was genuinely here for the ride.

Yet, piggy backing on Theo being lucky… now I’m no doctor, let alone psychotherapist or psychiatrist. However something here seems unprofessional. Theo’s way of therapy seems unprofessional, which he acknowledges. The amount of changes and initiative the facility allows him to make towards a high risk patient that he’s just started working with… even when mistakes are made nothing is being done. And here’s the issue I’m having with the authors books– consequences aren’t enforced. They are allowed to bypass authority, get caught and are still allowed to roam freely. It’s annoying and occasionally takes me out of the story because now I have to enforce surrealism in my brain and that in and of itself is a PROCESS. 

“Perhaps some of us are simply born evil, and despite our best efforts we remain that way.” 

Don’t think I forgot about the actual mystery– I think I was less interested in the mystery and more so in seeing how it would get unfolded or discovered. How Theo would get her to talk. But, the mystery… was convoluted. In the best of ways. I’m starting to get the authors way of sprinkling hints to the inevitable reveal, I’ll say it’s clever if not repetitive. But, I don’t know how to explain the tangled nature of the reveal of the why’d-you-do-it other than saying I was so far removed it was glorious.

I feel like I’m not selling it but trust me, I had a good time.

See, I enjoy Michaleides stories in a way that doesn’t hold water. They’re there and they’re enjoyable. But I’m not… mentally there? There’s a certain point where I have to stop asking questions in order to enjoy the drama of it all. This is going to sound strange, but I enjoy his books, but in a contradictory way in which I’m actively anticipating his next story, while knowing it’s going to be in a strict three star box. They’re easy and light, despite the very dark topics discussed here and it gives a sit in a chair by the fire with your tea yes tea I’m being very specific here and get lost in the mystery kind of vibe. 

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