The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Alex Michaelides’ debut novel The Silent Patient pulled me in from the start with the story of a woman’s shocking act of violence against her husband and her subsequent silence. It’s a topic that had not been covered in any previous novel I had read, so I was curious to see how Michaelides would weave the story together, especially with a silent main character.

Alicia Berenson has the perfect life. As a famous painter married to popular fashion photographer Gabriel, she spends her days doing exactly what she wants: painting. Alicia and Gabriel live in a large gorgeous house with big windows that let in a lot of light. Living in one of London’s most desirable areas means that they pay for the view, but said view is stunning and overlooks one of London’s parks.

They have all they could ever want until one night when Alicia does the unthinkable. Gabriel returns home late one evening from a fashion shoot. Alicia shoots him five times in the face. She never speaks again.

The media and the police are equally confused. Alicia’s refusal to speak or give any type of explanation leaves ample room for speculation, none of which is in Alicia’s favor. This case becomes the number one thing talked and speculated about in the public and amongst investigators. Alicia is also catapulted into notoriety. The prices of her previous artworks skyrocket. Once Alicia’s case is settled, she is taken away to the Grove, a secure forensic unit hidden away in North London. Away from prying eyes, the therapists at the Grove have high hopes that Alicia will open up and share her motives for why she killed her husband. Those hopes are quickly dashed as Alicia proves unresponsive to any kind of therapy.

Enter criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber. New to the Grove, Theo believes that he holds the key to unlocking Alicia’s speech. He has been waiting a very long time to work with Alicia. He is determined to get the bottom of the mystery of why Alicia shot her husband. Theo’s motivations become muddled the more he works with Alicia and begin to consume him. All the while, Alicia sits silently.

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