Review: The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

The Silent Wife - A.S.A. Harrison

Quick review for not such a quick read, but still a captivating one. I'll admit I picked up A.S.A. Harrison's "The Silent Wife" because it was rec'd to me by my library for follow-up reads to Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl". I'm not going to evoke any other comparisons to the latter work other than that mention, because this book is a whole different ballgame, but I can see why the comparison comes about.

"The Silent Wife" is one of those books that is definitely hit and miss. The characters are flawed and unlikable, the style of the prose is literary and has this slow unfurling, which is unlike the purported "thriller" that it's advertised as. I will definitely say that it's a solid mystery and supsenseful, but I wouldn't consider it a pulse-pounding thriller because it's about as quiet in its methodical unveiling as its title. "The Silent Wife" is symbolic, because in the silence of the woman who is the title's namesake, there's a whole lot of baggage to be had, secrets under the surface, and assumptions that you think would be teetering on the precipice of being unveiled, but not quite there. It's this game of whether or not you think the rug will be pulled out from under you, and it may or may not depending on the circumstance.

It was difficult for me to get into, what with the trading between two perspectives - man and woman - in a third person narrative where the two are in a slowly deteriorating marriage, and both are in a state of denial about such a state as well as their own shortcomings. Jodi knows her husband is a serial cheater, but chooses to live in denial about it, and there's this slow festering of dissent and anger that bubbles up inside her waiting to burst. Then comes the moment where it's one too many misgivings, and all hell breaks loose. Todd is a serial cheater who also lives in denial - on one hand he's unwilling to leave Jodi after their partnership of 20 years, but you could argue that he's seeking to use her and then lose her the first chance he gets. When a bombshell about one of his "flings" comes to light, then things are solidified towards the demise of his union with a Jodi.

This book is deliciously dark and well-plotted, which is one of the reasons why I followed it and found it well despite its problematic backdrops. Granted, I didn't like any of the characters. Todd is a jerk and his opinion and attention changes at the drop of a hat when it comes to serving his own interests and thinking self-indulgently. He thinks with his netherregions and revelations about his character reveal even more about his selfishness than anything else. Jodi isn't much better, because in her silence and denial - despite her being a mental health professional, she's cold and calculating and she's on pins and needles as far as her mental state deterioration is concerned. But in a way, I understood the way Jodi thought and felt based on how the narrative presented her perspective and rationale to me. Granted, it made me want to rage, but I could follow her perspective through the story and it kept me on edge the entire time. Will she, or won't she? Did she, or did she not? I guessed what the ending was a little while before it came (there is a twist here), but it still surprised me all the same - for coincidence and for how the end came about by context. I did wish that the narrative pacing was more even for the reveal and building up to that point, but I understood what the author was trying to do in that steady build toward Jodi's and Todd's respective fates (notice I'm trying to tap dance around events because I don't want to spoil it).

In the end, it's a read that was worth the journey and I appreciated it - for plotting, for the development, and for the respective reveal leaving my head turning even after the last few minutes of the audio. The audiobook was decent, though I think the narration from the female perspective (read by Karen White) was a little on the monotonous side. I think that was intentional based on the kind of character that Jodi was, but in the beginning of the narrative, I felt the weight of it was a bit odd for matching (it improved as certain events came to pass and I learned a bit more about the character). Todd's narrator (Donald Corren) was pitch perfect throughout. I'd recommend trying this one, though I'm aware that there may be many who will either love it or hate it for the character actions and its slow, steady build, but the calculating weight and dark tone of this story did impress me, as well as its subsequent development and reveal.

Overall score: 4/5 stars