Silent Patient (Michaelides)

The Silent Patient 
Alex Michaelides, 2019
Celadon Books
336 pp.
ISBN-13:
9781250301697 


Summary
Promising to be the debut novel of the season The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect.

A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas.

One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety.

The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—September 4, 1977
Where—Cyprus
Education—M.A., Cambridge University; M.A., American Film Institute
Currently—lives in London, England, UK


Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother. He has a MA in English Literature from Cambridge University and a MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The Silent Patient (2019) is his first novel.

Michaelides was a screenwriter before turning to novels. He wrote The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and co-wrote The Con is On (2018), with Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey, and Sofia Vergara. Michaelides lives in London. (From the publisher and Amazon.)



Book Reviews
(Starred review) [S]uperb…. This edgy, intricately plotted psychological thriller establishes Michaelides as a major player in the field.
Publishers Weekly


Clever plotting, red herrings, and multiple twists ensure most readers will be surprised by the ending of this debut thriller…. Dark, edgy, and compulsively readable.— Kiera Parrott
Library Journal


Unputdownable, emotionally chilling, and intense, with a twist that will make even the most seasoned suspense reader break out in a cold sweat
Booklist


While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud. Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for THE SILENT PATIENT ... then take off on your own:

1. How would you describe Alicia Berenson and the life she has lead up to the time she kills her husband? What was your initial sense of why Alicia refused to speak?

2. Alicia's self-portrait is entitled Alcestis, based an ancient Greek Eurpidean tragedy, which in turn is based upon Greek mythology. Do a bit of research into the myth to find out what Alicia might have been saying about herself in her portrait. What, in other words, does the painting reveal about the painter?

3. Follow-up to Question 2: The author once took a post-grad course in psychotherapy and subsequently spent a couple of years working part-time in a psychiatric unit like the Grove. What does Michaelides mean when, in 2018, he said in an interview with the Bookseller

I saw how the world of psychotherapy might be the perfect modern setting to reimagine [Alcestis'] story and explore its themes of death, guilt and silence.

4. Follow-up to Questions 2 and 3: Do you begin to see Alicia as a mythic character, a parallel to Alcestis? If so, in what way?

5. The author has created his own challenge: he must gradually reveal Alice to readers (and to Theo) without allowing her to tell her own story. How does Michaelides use Alicia's physical appearance and artwork to reveal her character?

6. What do think of Theo, initially, as he begins to work with Alice? What do you come to understand about him, and his motivation, as the book unfolds? In what way does your view of Theo change?

7. Were you shocked by the big reveal at the end? Or did you see it coming?

8. The Silent Patient is called a psychological thriller, but the reviewer of Crime by the Book blog considers it an in depth character study in which both characters' identities take precedence over the actual crime. In what genre would you place the book—character study or plot-based thriller? (It's presumably "both," but let's say you have to choose one or the other.)

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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