Friday, October 18, 2013

Book Review: The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison

The Silent Wife

Author: A. S. A. Harrison
Publisher: Viking Penguin
Date of Publication: June 25, 2013
Pages: 336 (NOOK Edition) 

   Reading The Silent Wife is like watching an automobile accident in slow motion and not being able to do anything about it.  It is a slow paced but methodical disassembling of a long term relationship between an otherwise intelligent psychologist and her live in boyfriend, a poorly educated but ambitious and successful real estate developer.  The story is set in Chicago.

    The author tells the story from the perspective of both main characters in alternating chapters.  This is a technique which I usually find distracting and annoying, but this author has used it very cleverly.  She manages to retell certain events from different perspectives but advance the plot at the same time, a fine balance to be sure.  Jodi Brett, the female character is the much more likeable character.  Todd Gilbert, the boyfriend, is a loathsome lecherous liar but somehow the author makes him a sympathetic character as well.  I couldn't help but picture comedian Ron White when envisioning Todd Gilbert.

    The book moves along at a funereal pace at times, but the sense of dread and foreboding is pervasive, keeps your interest piqued and keeps you wanting to keep the pages turning.  There is a superb twist of plot  at the end of the book involving the death of Todd Gilbert which I didn't expect.

    This book has been marketed as this year's Gone Girl but I don't think that is a fair comparison.  First, The Silent Wife is extremely well written.  They are both stories of soured relationships, but this book has much more of a ring of authenticity to it than Gone Girl ever had.  The plot here is not as frenetically paced, but it is so much more convincing and believable.  The characters in The Silent Wife are not nearly so stereotyped as in Gone Girl either.  

     The Silent Wife is a very good book which I enjoyed reading very much.  This was A. S. A. Harrison's first novel after four works of non-fiction.  Unfortunatley she passed away earlier this year.

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