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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Silent Wife

Author: A.S.A. Harrison
Originally Published: 2013
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Source: Received a copy from the publisher

The Story

The Silent LifeFrom the back of the book:

A finely wrought, emotionally charged psychological thriller about a marriage, a way of life, and how far one woman will go to keep what is rightfully hers.

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly towards the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept.

The Response

It’s a different experience to go into a book knowing how things end, but not knowing how they got to that point. When picking up The Silent Wife, you know right from the beginning that Jodi is going to be killing Todd – but the question remains, how? And why? Is there something that causes her to finally snap and go on some sort of American Psycho type rampage? Or has this been coming on so slowly, that it isn’t a huge leap for her to kill him?

I wanted to know how everything happened well before I opened the book, and was pulled in on the first page. This book certainly didn’t disappoint; there wasn’t one slow moment, and the story kept me interested right until the end. In all honesty, the best part about this book was watching how things unfold, watching how circumstances get worse and worse, to the point where one of the main characters becomes desperate enough to murder her own husband. It was, in a way, similar to watching a train wreck, only much more enjoyable (and leaving you feeling less guilty for watching see something horrible happen).

I have to say, I didn’t like either of the main characters. I am happy that they both were flawed – it makes them much more realistic – but neither of them were extremely likeable. Jodi, I found, was too judgemental, and slightly delusional. Todd, on the other hand, too often came across like he had no backbone. I found this frustrating in the same way that I find Shakespeare’s Othello frustrating – in Othello, the tragedy could have all been avoided if there was some basic communication between Othello and Desdemona. In The Silent Wife, tragedy could have again easily been avoided if there was frank communication between the couple, from the beginning, instead of pretending nothing was going on and springing everything on the other at the last moment.

The writing in this book was really phenomenal. Harrison has written a number of non-fiction books, but this was her debut fiction book. She really was talented at crafting a great story that readers will really get into – unfortunately, Harrison passed away in April, so we won’t have the opportunity to read more by her.

I finished this book a few days ago, and have been thinking about it since then. It has really stuck with me, and in the end I’m having a hard time figuring out some things about Jodi. I’m left not fully understanding her as a character, and am starting to wonder if she actually believes what she seems to believe at the end of the book. I will definitely be revisiting this to see if I can try to understand Jodi a little bit better next time. Then again, maybe I’m just reading too much into it…

The Bottom Line

This was a great read, and I would definitely recommend it.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:10 am December 13, 2013.
Category: Fiction and Literature
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  • Kelly Rogers

    Sounds good! I will put it on my wish list. :)