Review By Sarah Roach
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
I recommend The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. I admit that the title didn’t catch my attention as much as the name of the author. As a classicist, I am attracted to all things Greek, and the patronymic -ides, meaning “the son of Michael,” seemed intriguing. Indeed, Michaelides was born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father. So, expecting a story having something to do with Greece, or at least a Greek, I decided to check it out.
Glad I did. Although it has nothing to do with Greece, other than a few Greek names of characters, the story is captivating. To pique your curiosity, here is an excerpt from the inside front jacket:
“Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening, her husband, Gabriel, returns home late from work, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face and then never speaks another word.”
As Alicia Berenson’s life enfolds through the treatment of Dr. Theo Faber (his name loosely translated means “worker for God” and whether Michaelides intended that, I have no idea, but the notion is intriguing and works when one reflects on it at the end of the book), her silence can be puzzling and frustrating. It could even be viewed as a vow, only to be broken when the mystery is solved. Shall I venture to mention that this “vow” is similar to that practiced by religious orders, and only broken when the intention of God’s worker (Faber) is revealed?
The ending was surprising, and I found the parallels between Berenson’s and Faber’s lives, their upbringings, and the relationship between them as patient and doctor well written. The Silent Patient is Michaelides’ first novel, and it ranks high, in my opinion, as a psychological thriller.
Based on how much I enjoyed Patient, I plan to read his next novel The Maidens. The cover has a close-up of what looks like an ancient Greek statue (yes, I tend to judge a book by its cover), and the inside jacket description refers to the “rites of Persephone,” so predictably, I’m intrigued.