Alex Michaelides is no stranger to writing but The Silent Patient is his first novel.
Born in Cyprus in 1977 to a Greek father and English mother he studied English literature at Cambridge University and got his MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. His film credits include the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and he also co-wrote The Brits are Coming (2018), starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara.
Published to critical acclaim this novel is billed as the literary thriller of the year so far and it definitely hooks you from the first page. The novel is written from two first person points of view, Alicia Berenson, a woman who murdered her husband and Theo Faber, a forensic physiotherapist who is obsessed with her crime and why she committed it. This is not known as Alicia has refused to speak since the murder. She is now incarcerated in a criminal mental facility and Theo takes a job there to get closer to her in his obsession to help. Alicia’s story is told through her diary of the time, letting us the readers, build a picture of her life, her insecurities and her connection to her artwork. The only ‘voice’ she gave to her story of the murder was her last painting, a self-portrait that Theo struggles to find the meaning to. Theo believes he can help Alicia speak again but does anyone but him really want to hear what she has to say. We delve deeply into Theo’s psyche as well as Alicia’s and tensions multiply throughout the facility as Theo uncovers surprising connections and more information regarding Alicia’s troubled family background.
The writing is melodic, slowly weaving a web that totally captivates you, drawing you deep into the story so you cannot put the novel down. We, the reader, are totally invited into Theo’s life as he shares the up close and personal of his own marriage, his background and his nerves and wants as he starts the new job at The Grove, the facility that is Alicia’s prison. The writing, the superb plotting and the intimate character development makes this new novel very entertaining and well worth the read. It is totally a slow burn of a novel with a satisfying final twist and denouement that takes you by surprise.
Already optioned for the big screen this is definitely a recommended read and I am sure I will not be the only one looking out for Michaelides next novel.
Also comes as an Audiobook: