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The Silent Wife: A Novel Paperback – June 25, 2013
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"It’s this summer’s Gone Girl – I gobbled it down in one sitting, and because of the wonderful writing, I did not feel one speck guilty.” – Anne Lamott, People Magazine
"Utterly absorbing." —Laura Miller, Salon
"A. S. A. Harrison knocks it out of the park with her first novel, The Silent Wife. With a spare, elegant, and deft hand, she paints two dueling psychological portraits of longtime live-in lovers who become putative killer and hapless victim in a tale that no one is likely to forget anytime soon. I couldn't put this book down." —Elizabeth George, New York Times bestselling author of A Banquet of Consequences
"What a deliciously wicked pleasure The Silent Wife was to read. I love books where I can't guess the outcome, although I was rooting for Jodi all the way. A very clever, very funny comedy of manners spliced with a domestic thriller." —Kate Atkinson, New York Times bestselling author of Life After Life
"Beautifully written and deeply unsettling, this darkly funny examination of what happens when you've got nothing left to lose is also brilliantly addictive. It left me almost breathless as I raced toward the devastating finale." S. J. Watson, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep
"SUPERB...As a novel about the dark side of marriage and relationships, it's better than Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. A must read for anyone who is occasionally ruthless, reckless, or psychologically weird—and anyone who loves clever books with depth and heart." —Sophie Hannah, author of The Other Woman's House
“This summer's sleeper hit” – The New York Times
“The Silent Wife is a boning knife of a novel, sharp and quick.” – Newsday
“Watch out, Gone Girl.” – USA Today
“A.S.A Harrison's The Silent Wife is a clean, understated thriller” – NPR.ORG
“You can't blame the publishers of The Silent Wife for hyping it as ‘the new Gone Girl.’ It's not. It just might be better.” – The Huffington Post
“For those who loved Gone Girl… The Silent Wife is a quick-witted marital pas de deaux featuring a psychotherapist and her philandering husband.” – Vogue, “Summer’s Best Mystery Reads”
“May be as popular as Gone Girl was last summer.” – CBS This Morning, “Best Reads for Your Summer Vacation”
“The surprises keep coming, pager after quiet page… Harrison writes well with a light touch, but her touch is devastating nonetheless.” – The Guardian, US Summer Reads pick
“That final revelation from Harrison, who, regrettably, died before she could see her debut novel published, inflicts the stealth damage of an icepick to the carotid artery.” – Sarah Weinman, New Republic
About the Author
A. S. A. Harrison is the author of four books of nonfiction. The Silent Wife is her debut novel and she was at work on a new psychological thriller when she died in 2013. She lived with her husband, visual artist John Massey, in Toronto, Canada.
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In the beginning, we are told that this novel is all about a murder. Jodi will be the murderer and Todd the victim...and it will take only "a few short months" to "make a killer out of her."
So you might ask: with a novel that starts like that, how could it possibly be marketed as a thriller? Where's the suspense?
In fact, there's plenty of delight and surprise in this captivating cerebral psychological thriller. It's a thriller because we readers must ultimately understand and figure out the complex psychological unfolding of "the how" and "the why." And if you can see and understand the emotional dynamics of what is happening, you'll find a great deal of humor (oh yes, very black and subtle) all along the way. This is an intricate and impressive dance of inner survival where both characters keep stumbling no matter how hard they try to make the right move.
The book covers the few short months while this relationship is coming apart. In detail, we learn of the events that propel these two toward their fates. The story is told in alternating chapters from Jodi's and Todd's points of view. As readers, we exist in these character's minds. We are privy to their inner motivations, rationalizations, distortions, and self-delusions. But with two separate and very differing viewpoints, readers are left to figure out what really is going on. That's what's fun. That's part of the thrill.
The author expects her readers to have a high social IQ and a fair amount of arm-chair academic psychological knowledge...and what she figures readers may not know, she explains--of course not directly, but the psychological facts are there, hidden in the fabric of the storytelling. Perhaps you'll recognize these "lessons" when you see them, or perhaps you'll just pick them up subconsciously along the way. In either case, you should eventually start to understand how these characters are fated--by their pasts, and by their own specific and differing temperaments and character flaws--to affect what happens in their lives.
This is a very clever book--intelligent, compelling, and exceedingly well written. If my review has piqued your interest, you are probably one of those readers who will find this book as remarkable as I did. For me it was clearly five stars.
Description: The story of Todd a wealthy, Real Estate Entrepreneur and Developer and Jodi, a stay-at-home, part-time psychologist and their 20-year “marriage.” Although everyone who knows them believes and treat them as a married couple, even addressing her as Mrs. Gilbert, they are not. A suspenseful trip through the slow disintegration of “marriage,” the revelation of secrets and the dangers of being ‘silent’ in an uneven relationship.
Plot: The murder of the husband is alluded to in the very beginning but things are never as they appear and this book is no different. The plot centers on the psychological aspects of the main characters, their “marriage’” and the choices they make. The plot is believable, yet, almost predictable. The deep-dark secrets, of both Todd and Jodi, are revealed in a drip-drip of suspense, culminating in the evitable with a twist.
Characterization: The characters were well developed but over time. Told in differing points of view, bit by bit, the author reveals what drives Jodi to be the calm, “Stepford Wife” and why in spite of degrees lining her walls, she limits the number of patients she counsels. Todd is presented as a typical philandering husband- not easy to like. There's more to him, as we learn throughout the book, but not enough to make me like him. If I’m honest, I didn’t find either character, although compelling, exciting. I wanted to kick both of them and say, “Are you and idiot! Wake up!”
Setting: Chicago. The beautiful, expensive condo, central to the story is well described and reveals if you’re paying attention, much about Jodi.
Other: To me, foreshadowing played a significant role in how this author told her story. It was like peeling an onion, leaving scraps of skin lying about for the reader to pick up. Although I thought it was masterfully done, I figured out the ending, mid-way through.
Overall: An excellent psychological and suspenseful novel. I love stories that help reveal what makes us tick and explore the dark side that is within all of us. The characters although irritating at times, were well developed and kept me guessing what they would do next. The book was entertaining and a quick read.
Four Stars: I gave it four stars for two reasons: First, I found the changing POV’s at times, a bit jolting at times. Perhaps it was the transitions, as I on several occasions had to go back, review a few paragraphs to understand. Secondly, in places, I found the dialogue tags, noticeable and in some instances, pulled me away from the conversation. However, those are minor. The Silent Wife is a good book, and I highly recommend it.
The Silent Wife: A Novel