Some may call this reclusive or anti-social, but I spent the whole weekend alone reading. It was marvellous! I have not felt this recharged in a long time.
First devoured was The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison:
Todd Gilbert and Jodi Brett are in a bad place in their relationship. They’ve been together for twenty-eight years, and with no children to worry about there has been little to disrupt their affluent Chicago lifestyle. But there has also been little to hold it together, and beneath the surface lie ever-widening cracks. 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. When it becomes clear that their precarious world could disintegrate at any moment, Jodi knows she stands to lose everything. It’s only now she will discover just how much she’s truly capable of…Synopsis from Headline.co.uk
From the synopsis I expected this to be a more chilling story – which is not always my cup of tea – however, reading the psychological analysis and the protagonist’s deconstruction of their own personalities moved the novel into an area I found fascinating. I have read many thrillers where women cling to their lives as they disintegrate around them, but in this novel Jodie’s actions become completely understandable; you understand why she thinks and acts as she does (and so does she.) This layer of psychoanalysis that runs through The Silent Wife, adds depth and brings the novel to life, allowing further understanding of these people than you initially realise. There is a history to Jodie and Todd, our protagonists, reaching right back into childhood; ignored psychological issues that are enacted in their current circumstance.
Jodie has drifted along the surface of her life, never daring to dive in deep and properly deal with her problems. She has a simple, yet contented, common law marriage with Todd, a serial cheater. She knows he cheats and he knows she knows, but as long as the affairs are fleeting, neither disturbs their equilibrium. Reading Jodie break down the pattern of her actions feels very familiar, she is very self-aware but does nothing about it.
Worryingly, I began the novel siding with Todd; however, I snapped out of this mind-set pretty quickly. In refusing to accept or deal with his issues, which manifested themselves in his cheating, all my sympathy was is lost. In addition, it initially felt easy to dislike Natasha, the naïve girl who traps Todd with pregnancy. However, I quickly realised that while annoying, Natasha is not the one to blame; Todd’s constant denial that he is in any way at fault is wonderfully infuriating. The climax of Todd’s actions was surprising and yet obvious, in a brilliant sort of way; Harrison does not call for you to solve any mysteries, that is not the point.
The Silent Wife was gripping, and had me struggling to do anything but finish it – well worth the read.
The Silent Wife is published in paperback by Headline, retailing at £6.99.