Originally published: 7 February 2019
Author: Alex Michaelides
Published by: Orion
Length: 320 pages
Reading dates: 3-6 February 2019
There has been so much hype around this book – Orion have done a fantastic job building the anticipation so when I got sent a copy a couple of weeks before publication I was so excited!
Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband.
What a beginning! The story centres around Alicia Berenson who is a well known artist who is ensconced in The Grove, a secure psychiatric unit, where she is held for shooting her husband 5 times in the head, 6 years previously. Since that day, she hasn’t uttered a word.
Theo Faber is a forensic psychotherapist who starts working at The Grove, his motivation being to meet Alicia. He is convinced he can successfully treat her where everyone else has failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, Theo speaks to the people who knew her best before she killed her husband to try and discover her secrets and get her to talk.
I was completely engaged from the moment I started this – almost immediately we are introduced to the shocking details of the crime. There were no apparent problems between Alicia and Gabriel when she murdered him which makes her crime even more shocking. Theo’s interest in the case actually borders on obsessive. The story revolves around Theo’s point of view – his one sided conversations with Alicia and his discussions with the people who know her best. We also get to see Alicia’s diary entries in the run up to the murder which enables us to hear her voice, even when she doesn’t speak.
I found the setting of a psychiatric unit really interesting. And I was also fascinated to learn about the Greek myth of Alcestis, who willingly sacrifices her life for her husband, Admetus, dying in his place when no one else will. For most of the book I truly had no idea where it was going. I don’t want to say too much more about the plot because you need to discover the hook for yourself but it a real page turner and I read the second half of the book in one sitting. The execution is perfect and it is a fantastic read! I predict this will be the book everyone is talking about in 2019!
Many thanks to Poppy at Orion for sending me a copy.
About the author:
Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother. He read English at Cambridge University and received a MA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. He wrote the film Devil You Know, starring Rosamund Pike, and co-wrote The Con is On, starring Uma Thurman and Tim Roth. The Silent Patient is his first novel.