The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison
Todd and Jodi have been together for more than twenty years. They are both aware their world is in crisis, though neither is willing to admit it.
Todd is living a dual existence, while Jodi is living in denial. But she also likes to settle scores. When it becomes clear their affluent Chicago lifestyle could disintegrate at any moment, Jodi knows everything is at stake. It’s only now she will discover how much she’s truly capable of…
Viewed from the outside Todd and Jodi appear to have the perfect life. He is a self-made man who enjoys all the finer things that life has to offer. She is a successful therapist who likes everything to be just so. Beneath the thin veneer of their ideal existence however, the truth is actually far from perfect. Todd is a serial philanderer while Jodi is so far in denial it is slowly eating her up from the inside out.
This isn’t the sort of novel that I would normally pick up, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. The Silent Wife is a fascinating story. It works on multiple levels, part character study, part psycho-analysis, part thriller. The chapters alternate between Todd and Jodi’s perspectives. Seeing the same story unfold from these two differing counterpoints allows the reader to easily appreciate everything that is going on within the intricate plot.
Recently I was watching television and I heard a phrase that perfectly sums up how Todd and Jodi actually view one another. “Women always expect that men will change while men always expect that women will stay the same“. This story really taps into that idea. There are obviously things wrong, but rather than confront one another the two leads seek their answers elsewhere. Imagine the American dream turned sour.
What sets this novel above your standard crime/thriller fare is the depth of characterisation. Todd and Jodi are so fantastically well observed that at times the narrative feels almost intrusive. There is a subtly voyeuristic tone in places. I’ll be honest, at times it really felt like I was looking through a window watching a couple going about their lives or reading someone’s diary.
The author has created two very realistic fully fleshed out individuals whose entire existence, in fact their entire relationship, is laid bare. Every conversation, every intimate moment is exposed. Some of the most memorable moments manage to be both utterly engrossing and tragically heart-breaking in a single beat, it’s remarkable stuff. Jodi’s reaction to the breakdown of their marriage is particularly poignant. I read the entire book from cover to cover over the course of forty-eight hours. Every time I had a spare minute or two I found that I just had to keep going back to it.
My only real criticism was the novel’s ending. Don’t worry, no spoilers, I wouldn’t dream of it. Let me preface this by saying that I enjoyed the story immensely, but I did think that the final chapters were a little rushed. For me the pacing felt a bit off. The bulk of the novel builds nicely towards a particular event. I would have liked a bit more exploration of the aftermath. I suppose it can’t be bad really, you’re only real complaint is that you are left wanting more. That said this is a very minor gripe in an otherwise first-rate tale.
I’d love to tell you that I’m looking forward to this author’s next novel but sadly A.S.A. Harrison passed away before her debut was released. It’s a terrible shame that she’ll never get to see the reactions from readers that The Silent Wife is bound to elicit. This is truly thought provoking fiction that effortlessly picks apart the nature of human relationships and how we all interact with one another.
The Silent Wife is published by Headline and is available now. This is a superior thriller for anyone who enjoys his or her stories character driven.