Reviewed by Abby
The Silent Patient is a psychological thriller roughly inspired by the play Alcestis by the Greek playwright Euripides. The story begins with Alicia Berenson being accused of murdering her husband Gabriel by shooting him in the face. Apparently traumatized, she stops speaking. Due to her silence, Alicia is unable to defend herself at her trial. Her lawyer claims she suffers from mental illness, and she is sent to a psychiatric ward called the Grove. The murder is never officially resolved.
Alicia’s trial is very well known throughout London due to her fame as a painter and her late husband’s career as a fashion photographer. The media hype for the mysterious murder slowly dies down as the years pass. Alicia continues to stay silent. Her case captures the attention of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who decides to apply for a job at the Grove with the sole intention of working directly with Alicia. Theo is determined to do whatever it takes to get Alicia to open up about why, and/or if, she killed her husband. As he attempts to dig deeper into Alicia’s subconscious, Theo begins to question his own relationships and reality.
The main storyline takes place around six years after Gabriel’s murder. It is told through the perspectives of Alicia’s diary entries and Theo’s description of events both at the Grove and in his personal life. This story has a unique plot twist ending, and I absolutely loved the similarities Michaelides incorporates from Alcestis. I noticed this book has drastically mixed reviews online. Readers either wholeheartedly love the plotline or they find everything too cliché and drab. I personally enjoyed this debut by Michaelides and I highly anticipate his next novel, The Maidens, coming out in June 2021. There are also rumors that a movie adaptation of the book is coming soon!
I chose to listen to the audio book through the Libby app of The Silent Patient as read by Jack Hawkins as Theo and Louise Brealey as Alicia. Hearing their opposing narratives really allowed me to be more immersed in the story. It may just be because I am new to audiobooks, but I prefer a larger cast over one person voicing every character in the story. I especially appreciated that Alicia’s diary entries were being read aloud. Because Alicia does not speak, we do not completely know what she is thinking while interacting with Theo and other Grove staff members/patients. Listening to the audio book gave Alicia a voice in numerous ways.