Today, I finished reading The Silent Wife, by A. S. A. Harrison. The blurb on the front cover was graciously given by Anne Lamott, and it says…
It’s this summer’s ‘Gone Girl’–I gobbled it down in one sitting, and because of the wonderful writing, I did not feel one speck guilty.”
Although I don’t completely agree with her assessment, I won’t totally disagree either. I realize that I am the exception and not the rule here, but I was not a big fan of Gone Girl, so for me to compare it to Gillian Flynn’s novel would be doing this book an injustice. (To each his own, right?) I tend to give the ‘pro’s’ first, but today, I will begin with what I didn’t like.
I only have one dislike, and again, it’s personal taste. This book is narrative-heavy. Long passages, page after page of internalization, narration, and exposition, especially toward the end. The majority of it did not serve to forward the plot, nor did it enrich the characters. But, even with that said, it was not enough to bring the novel to its knees.
There was a lot I did like and enjoy. The chapters are divided between ‘him’ and ‘her’, being Todd Gilbert and his common law wife, Jodi Brett. Todd is an unreliable narrator. The story begins with Todd seemingly the man everyone wants. Soon, though, we learn of his tendencies to stray, and Jodi’s tendency to overlook his shortcomings. Todd believes Todd is a great guy. He thinks that because he puts water-saving toilets in his apartments, he’s gone above and beyond. He doesn’t see anything wrong with the affairs he has or the actions he justifies. Todd isn’t a great guy. He’s human. He’s flawed. And he’s oblivious to his shortcomings.
Jodi is every bit ‘the silent wife’. She’s complacent. She’s not confrontational, so much so that even if she isn’t happy with aspects of the relationship, she won’t say anything. It’s not that she doesn’t know what Todd is capable of or what he has done before and will do again, she chooses to turn a blind eye. I found her a bit boring and one-dimensional in the beginning. It isn’t until she learns of his latest affair that her eyes are forced open, but by that time, she is left little recourse.
Natasha is simply a young, spoiled, bitch. I found absolutely nothing to like about her.
But, it works. It’s labeled as a thriller, which I didn’t feel was fitting, but it’s a well-told story. Again, I would have liked to see the narrative pared down – less telling and more showing. The title works so well because ‘silence’ turns out to be Jodi’s saving grace. Had she been like mouthy Natasha, I believe it would have ended much differently and she would have said too much before the ‘alternate truth’ came out. I know that statement seems vague to anyone who hasn’t read the book, but I don’t want to reveal the ending.
Overall, The Silent Wife was a pleasurable read and worth the time investment. If you’ve read it or are planning to, I’d love to hear your thoughts!