Updated: Nov 15
“We are made up of different parts, some good, some bad, and a healthy mind can tolerate this ambivalence and juggle both good and bad at the same time. Mental illness is precisely about a lack of this kind of integration - we end up losing contact with the unacceptable parts of ourselves.”
Book Review #2
Title : THE SILENT PATIENT
Author : Alex Michaelides
Genre : Fiction-Mystery,Psychological Thriller
Year of publication : 2019
Alicia Berenson,the famous London painter with a seemingly perfect life shoots her husband,a celebrated fashion photographer five times in the face and goes mute,never speaking a word after the incident.What’s queer is that she maintains her silence throughout the course of her arrest, trial and institutionalization in the Grove, a psychiatric facility for the criminally impaired.Instead,Alicia paints a self portrait entitled “Alcestis,” named after a Greek heroine who returns from the dead, but never speaks again.Forsensic psychotherapist,Theo Faber is obsessed with the Berenson case to such an extent that he applies for a position at the Grove with an aim to unravel the mystery behind it.
The therapy sessions do not seem to make any evident progress until one day Alicia hands over her diary to Theo and it seems clear that her silence is more profound than anyone imagined.
Alex Michaelides is a bestselling British-Cypriot author and a screenwriter who is known for movies like The Devil You Know(2013)and The Con is On(2018).He has an M.A. in English Literature from Trinity College, Cambridge University, and an M.A. in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The Silent Patient is his debut novel which became an instant bestseller.His second book, The Maidens,another psychological thriller is recently out now.
The Review The Silent Patient is perhaps the best psychological thriller that I have read of late.So what makes it an enjoyable and coveted read?
If you love the thriller/mystery genre,then this is highly recommended for you.What I liked more was the fact that this is also a psychological thriller.The experience of the author in a secure psychotherapic unit has become handy in his debut novel.The reader never gets bored at any point in the book as there are no unwanted elaborative descriptions or deviations as is often the case.The narration is such that the reader is captivated straightaway and keeps him/her glued till the very end.
Most of the story is seen from the perspective of the psychotherapist,Theo Faber who can be considered as the protagonist.However we are also introduced to the personal diary of Alicia Berenson in between.The book is quite fast-paced and there are a lot of red herrings as well on the way.As for me,I didn’t see the end coming and it literally blew me off.However when I thought about it,I felt that atleast some could have guessed it.Well,the fact that I didn’t,made it all the while enjoyable to me!
Basically the story is about the woman alleged of murdering her husband and the doctor who is determined to treat the former.The reader is also introduced to the life of the psychotherapist,his personality,his inner conflicts and turmoils and his personal life.Various aspects of the artist's life also slowly unfolds such as her childhood and family members and one gets drawn into the book deeper as the pages turn.There are so many other characters as well who play minor roles without whom the plot cannot be complete.all of which lead to the astounding climax in the end.
Generally the book got positive reviews but not without some negative feedbacks.One main allegation which was raised was the fact that some of the characterisations were sort of silly and its kind of true.Personally I felt the depiction of the psychiatric unit was not convincing and it generated an image more of a punishment facility rather than a treatment facility.Apart from these,I feel there is not much to be criticised.
The Movie adaptation
Brad Pitt’s production company,Plan B along with Annapurna have optioned film rights for the on-screen adaptation of The Silent Patient and sadly,that’s the only thing about it that we still know!But I feel the movie would be definitely better than the book given the plot and twists.
Have you read the book?
If yes,what did you think of it? Lets talk!
If not,when are you going to grab your copy?