Release Date: February 5, 2019
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5
The Silent Patient was, simply put, fascinating. It opens with our narrator, Theo Faber, taking on a role as a psychotherapist at a facility called The Grove, that houses dangerous criminals. He is particularly interested in one woman there specifically, Alicia Berenson, and seems to be pursuing this job purely to work with her. Alicia was accused of shooting and killing her husband, and since the crime, six years prior, has refused to speak. From the reader’s point of view, it seems that Theo is oddly obsessed with the idea of ‘fixing’ her, and getting her to speak, despite the fact that no one else at the facility has been able to do so.
Before the murder of her husband, Alicia was a renowned artist. As part of her therapy, Theo convinces the rest of the staff at The Grove to let her paint (I found it a little unconvincing that this wouldn’t have been done earlier). Alicia immediately takes to painting, and Theo feels confident that he will soon have her speaking as well. In his spare time, Theo essentially stalks a number of Alicia’s friends and family members, interrogating them about Alicia’s mood and actions around the time of the murder. He slowly learns that she was increasingly concerned at the time that there was a man following her, and standing outside her house at night.
There are also excerpts from Theo’s personal life and his increasingly tumultuous relationship with his wife, who he discovers is cheating on him. As we witness their interactions, and his life at home, as well as his obsession with Alicia’s past, it becomes clear that there is something ominous about Theo. He starts to follow his wife every time she leaves the house, hoping to catch her with the man she has been sleeping with. The more disturbed he seemed to become, the more I wondered what his true intentions were in trying to treat Alicia.
I absolutely did not guess the ending of this thriller, but I did start to piece together how a few things were related, which made me ever more excited to learn all the intricacies and details at the end. Although portrayed as a dangerous criminal throughout the entire book, I felt a semblance of pity for Alicia by its conclusion, as I was able to see how misunderstood and out of control of her own actions she had been for so long.
The varying storylines within this narrative wove together seamlessly, and allowed for connections to be identified slowly and creatively. I read a lot of domestic thrillers, but this one was able to transcend the usual themes I find running through this sub-genre, and present a wholly original story.
Along with this book, I devoured these tagalong bars, which were able to almost exactly replicate the taste of the Girl Scout Cookies for which they’re named. One tip in storing these: keep them at room temperature rather than refrigerated, so the shortbread base stays soft and chewy.