Michaelides shows readers that sometimes silence speaks more than words in his gripping novel, The Silent Patient. A tale of love, obsession, and murder, The Silent Patient draws readers in with Alicia Berenson’s diary entry. In these first moments, readers connect with the thoughtful yet enigmatic mind of Alicia. However, this connection is quickly severed as the story turns over to Theo Faber the psychologist who becomes Alicia’s doctor. Through Theo’s narration and Alicia’s occasional diary, the story of the silent patient is revealed.
If The Silent Patient were nothing more than a good old fashioned whodunit, it would be brilliant. The story is packed with twists and turns that will delight any fan of the genre. However, The Silent Patient probes readers’ minds, questioning the line between love and obsession, innocence and guilt, trauma and pain.
As I read through the novel, I kept questions Michaelides use of silence as a literary device. What do we learn through Alicia’s silence instead of her spoken work? How does her silence resonate within a cultural context? For me, Alicia’s reaction represented a cultural silencing of stories. Only through the purposeful act of not speaking that Alicia’s story finally gets heard. Yet, Michaelides is not advocating silence; instead, the book challenges readers to listen to the silent, to seek the unspoken stories.
However, there’s another layer to Michaelides novel: love. Though the Silent Patient is far from a romance novel, love is certainly at the center of the story. What is love? How do we love? Can you love someone who can betrays us so utterly? Michaelides explores these questions in surprising ways, blending the beauty of love with the hideousness of murder.
Ultimately, The Silent Patient is complex and dark story about betrayal, love, and murder. Alex Michaelides brilliantly captures the experiences and emotions of his characters within his novel.