‘The Silent Patient’ takes an interesting take on the therapy of a silent patient. It has an intriguing reference to a Greek tragedy by Euripides, ‘Alcestis’, in which Admetus confines his wife to the death. In this play, the wife, Alcestis, returns to the world of the living, but she does not speak.
Alicia Berenson’s story
Alicia Berenson, a talented painter, killed her husband, Gabriel Berenson, a well-known photographer. Since then, she hasn’t uttered a word, but she painted a shocking artwork named ‘Alcestis’, which portrays her as a cold-blooded killer. Since her mental state is difficult to ascertain, she is confined in a mental health facility. She is on a heavy course of medication.
In the course of the novel, we learn that Alicia saw ‘Alcestis’ with one of her friends. Is her silence only an act of resilience? Or is she really a murderess. In the course of the novel, we learn that Alicia had a stalker or at least someone who was observing the house. There are many suspects who may have wished to frame Alicia. Jean-Felix Martin, who was the manager of the gallery that exhibition Alicia’s work. Alicia didn’t reciprocate the feelings for Jean, and she wanted to change her gallery after the exhibition. Certain members of Gabriel’s family fancied Alicia too. All these threads in the novel turn to be red hearings in the end.
Theo Faber’s story
Parallelly to Alicia’s story that we learn through her diary, we learn about the narrator, Theo Faber. He is a psychotherapist, and he is interested in Alicia’s story from the start. He explains his story that he is attracted to therapy because of his personal experience, especially the fact that he had an abusive father. At the beginning of the novel, we learn that the interest in Alicia’s life is purely academic and that Theo wishes to write a book about her condition later in his life. He is portrayed as a happily married person, but we soon learn that this is not the case. His attractive actress wife, Kathy Faber, is having an affair with another man. Until the end of the novel, we learn very little about this person. We don’t even know how this person looks like.
Theo is devastated by this fact. He begins to stalk Kathy’s lover despite the advice of his old therapist that he should leave Kathy to go. He deserves better. Would he end up with Alicia if she recovers?
Theo starts his job in Alicia’s mental health facility, and he begins to make her speak. Alicia nevertheless dies before she breaks the news of her predicament. The clue to her state is her diary, and this is a part of the killer twist. Kathy had an affair with Gabriel, and Theo was the one who forced Alicia to kill Gabriel.
In the end, everything appears to be jolly for Theo until the police arrive at his house and show him Alicia’s diary.
‘The Silent Patient’ is tightly plotted and is a type of novel where nothing seems as it is. I can’t wait to read more of Alex Michaelides books.
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