Since being published and reading a heap of accolades for it, The Silent Wife has sat prominently on the “to read” list ever growing in my head. It has been recommended to me time and time again but somehow it never quite made it to the top of the pile. It fell victim to the fact that the list of what I want to read seems to grow by three titles for every one that I finish but I finally got around to it. I then read it in about three days.
I expected this book, from what was expressed to me and also from the book jacket itself, to be a little creepy, a little scary, maybe even a little gory. I didn’t find it any of these things on the surface. There was no real bloodshed or moments when I had to put the book down for awhile until the heeby-jeebies settled down. Under the surface, however, there were more layers of creepy psychological motives than I could list here without boring you. Oh, and giving away the entire story, I suppose. Harrison did an amazing job of weaving current plotline with past lives without ever lingering too long on something that wasn’t presently occurring (much like her characters, imagine that). She gave just enough background information for you to understand why her characters were the way they were but still left you enough leeway to keep you guessing.
The depth of Harrison’s understanding of her characters, their mental states, their histories and their futures is so detailed that I didn’t once stop and say, “But why is that even happening?” If you don’t know yet, you trust that she does and she’ll let you in soon enough.
The writing was clean but not necessarily simple – plenty of well-researched psychological theories and schools of thought throughout, and a jumping back and forth between characters that keeps you on your toes. As the chapters alternate from the story of the wife to the husband, but still told in third person, you are given both sides, told concurrently. In other books I’ve read the alternate perspectives has been confusing and muddled, but Harrison does it so well that I never had to flip back through the text to remind myself who someone was or what they were doing. I found that simply paying attention to what I was reading was enough and that wasn’t so hard to do when I didn’t want to tear my attention away.
This is a brilliant novel that dives into human natures, psychoses, and how we (often badly) deal with tumult in our lives. Harrison does not allow her characters to go unjudged but she doesn’t chastise them for what they are doing. It is a simple matter of who they are, like it or not. If you enjoy a great story, a little psychological drama, and being kept on your toes (still, now that I am done, I’m still not completely convinced I know the truth), you will love this book.
I highly recommend it to anyone whether you’re looking for a good vacation beach read, a commuting companion, or something to curl up with a cup of tea with.