“He who does not understand your silence will not understand your words”
We have shared multiple book reviews on this platform in the past and most instances I have felt “the Nudge “ by those books. I was waiting for that cue, as far as my fiction writing skills were concerned. Ironically, that is yet to happen but in the meantime, I came across this brilliant debut novel and I had this compulsive desire to share it with you.
The protagonist’s single-minded pursuit of “ silence “ of her heroine and his obsessive efforts to solve the mystery surrounding her by unraveling the knots of her mind is worth a read.
Author, Alex Michaelides, commenced his literary trajectory with a degree in English from Cambridge followed by screenwriting. He has written screenplays for the films, “Devils you know “ and the “Con is On “.There was a brief interlude in his writing career by being trained as a psychotherapist. He is of Cypriot – Greek and English descent and currently resides in London.
Psychological thrillers have always touched a chord in me as my patients in primary care have behavioral health issues in multitudes and they are one of the most recalcitrant problems to treat. Navigating the human mind is an ongoing challenge of present-day medicine and medical challenges are always thrilling for me
Theo Faber is a psychotherapist and he is intrigued by Alicia, the beautiful artist, who had gone mute after killing her handsome photographer husband. Alicia had grown up with a mentally unstable family and she has her mental health issues but is an artist of promise and potential and her only communication to the world after the murder, is a painting “Alcestis”
She paints “Alcestis”, the heroine of a Greek tragedy by, Euripides, who volunteers to die for her husband, Admetus, and when” Alcestis “ is brought back to life by Hercules, she loses her speech.
Alicia is committed to a secured psychiatric unit “The Grove” as there are concerns about her mental competence in the court of law.
Six years later there is an opening in the “The Grove” and Theo joins the unit though the unit is on the brink of closure due to financial hardships.
Theo’s endeavors to treat Alicia has an unconventional and obsessive quality to it, while he deals with his mental health issues, drug addiction, and infidelities of his wife. He prefers to “Bury his head in the sand” and refuses to confront his wife about it
Alicia reacts violently to Theo’s psychotherapy sessions but Theo’s empathy for Alicia bordering on to infatuation persists. He patiently and steadily prods ahead with his interviews of the people, who, he thinks could be remotely associated with Alicia’s present state
As a last resort, Theo wants Alicia to start painting again.
I do not want to be a spoilsport for readers by demystifying the plot, so I would let them read it for themselves
All-Pros, hardly any cons
“ The Silent Patient “ splashed on the” Best Seller” world almost a year back and it is still making ripples on all the major bestseller lists. Author amazes us with an amalgam of psychotherapy training and his literary skills
The novel has a perfect opening “Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband “
But the icing is the end when all my deductions and rationalizations come to naught and your “Aha “ moment is way off from the actual story
The greek tragedy “Alcestis” inspired him when he was a school going, kid. His heroine Alicia, the artist, and the murderess undergoes a similar transformation after the intense mental trauma of her unreciprocated love. Besides readers who love literature, it was an added dimension of storytelling which added mythicism and romanticism to the novel
Despite not many crescendo decrescendo moments, the story hurls forward with plenty of twists and turns and the climactic pull is always intact.
The interview sessions, bureaucratic cordons and interoffice politics of the Psychiatric unit gives us a perfect backdrop of the novel
The chapters are short and crisp and dialogues predominate [his screenwriter presence] which keeps up the paciness of the novel.No wonder in most of the reviews of the book, it has been called an unputdownable pageturner
The human mind surpasses supercomputers in its complexities and we are still navigating its mazes. Its defense mechanisms are strong when it protects us from various traumas the mortal world inflicts on us like betrayals, loss of loved ones. But its reactions could be equally varied. On one end of the spectrum, it can be as accepting and forgiving but when the avenger side of the brain predominates, it can be as ruthless, conniving and devious
People are seeking help for their mental disorders if their self-awareness is up to the mark. Mental disorders could be a refuge, a camouflage, a retreat but some times it is a societal threat and if not identified at the right moment, it raises its ugly head in the most catastrophic manner
“The Silent Patient “ has been bagged by the movie makers and I am sure it is going to be a grand success
We are all eagerly waiting for the author’s next venture
Hope to talk to you soon on this platform
Till then keep safe and happy
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