The Silent Patient Book Review

The Silent Patient Book Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is a psychological thriller about a psychotherapist who tries to figure out what really happened the night his patient’s husband was murdered. It is an investigative story with a surprise ending.

I picked up this book because I heard that it was good, and the description sounded interesting. I don’t mind reading psychological horror stories; I just don’t like watching psychological horror movies because they are too scary and gruesome for me. This book is not gruesome.

The Silent Patient Synopsis

Alicia Berenson, an artist, murdered her husband, Gabriel, a photographer. One day, when her husband came home from work late at night, Alicia tied him up and shot him five times in the face. Then she cut her wrists. He died, but she lived.

From that night on, Alicia was silent. She did not speak during her trial and would not talk to anyone. She did create one last painting right after Gabriel’s murder. It was a self-portrait. She called it The Alcestis, which is a tragedy by Euripides.  The Greek myth is about a wife who willingly dies for her husband, then she comes back to life but is silent. The self-portrait is Alicia’s way of trying to communicate what really happened the night of the murder.

Theo Faber, a psychotherapist, saw the media about the murder, and he decided that he wanted to be her psychotherapist. So, he quit his job and applied for a job opening at the Grove Hospital, where Alicia was admitted. It’s been six years since Alicia murdered her husband.

“If you told me this broken shell had once been the brilliant Alicia Berenson, described by those who knew her as dazzling, fascinating, full of life – I simply wouldn’t have believed you. I knew then and there I’d made the right decision in coming to the Grove. All my doubts vanished. I became resolved to stop at nothing until Alicia became my patient.” (p. 26-27)

The Investigation

Theo Faber is narrating the story. He writes about the investigation that he is doing to try to figure out what really happened the night of Gabriel’s murder. He not only talks with Alicia in therapy sessions to try to get her to speak, but he also acts like an investigative reporter and talks to her family and friends to see if they can give any insight.

“Something bad happened to Alicia, probably early in her childhood, to provoke the murderous impulses that emerged all those years later. Whatever the provocation, not everyone in this world would have picked up the gun and fired it point-blank into Gabriel’s face – most people could not. That Alicia did so points to something disordered in her internal world. That’s why it was crucial for me to understand what life had been like for her in this house, to find out what happened to shape her, maker her into the person she became – a person capable of murder.” (p. 132)

Interwoven throughout the book, Theo reveals what is happening in his own personal life. He finds out that his wife is cheating on him. He loves her and wants to stay in the relationship.

Alicia kept a diary, which the story kept referring to. It gave details of her life and her feelings. In the diary, she talks about a mysterious man who she says is watching her. She often sees him outside her house, staring at her, but she never sees his face. She is afraid of this man, and no one believes her.

My Review of The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient was fascinating. You never knew who was lying or who really killed Gabriel. There were no dull moments. I kept reading through the night when I was supposed to be sleeping because the story was so interesting.

Theo is a likable character. He tells of his struggles with his childhood and how he went to a psychotherapist for a long time as a young adult. He became a psychotherapist because of his messed-up childhood. There were many similarities between Alicia’s and Theo’s childhoods. He understands why Alicia could have murdered her husband.

The ending was perfect. I was surprised to find out who the mysterious man was. I loved how everything came together in the end. There were no loose ends. One sentence in the book answered the question. After I read that sentence, I had to stop and absorb the information because it was so unexpected.

This is an excellent book for people who love mysteries.


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