Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

The Silent Wife is told from alternating points of view.  First Her, then Him.  The reader knows from the outset what is going to happen, and yet following each account provides a fascinating glimpse at the underlying dynamics of the twenty year journey of this couple.

Book Description:  A psychotherapist with a small private practice, 
Jodi likes things orderly and predictable, mapped out well in advance. 

Jodi’s husband Todd, a thriving entrepreneur, is intuitive, 
spontaneous, and fond of taking risks.

The emotional distance of the omniscient narrator--who deftly examines Jodi's version of events and then Todd's, without judgement--is key to the success of this novel.  Nothing is sensationalized or over-dramatized, yet the small details of the way the two of them have managed their lives, together and apart, accumulate to present a bigger picture that belies the assessment of each character.  How Jodi and Todd judge their relationship and the reader's opinion will differ substantially.

Jodi has developed a method of dealing with Todd's infidelities by ignoring them and avoiding confrontation, and instead, employing small passive aggressive guerrilla attacks.  She misplaces small items leaving Todd confused, but willing to believe it was his fault; he is a laid-back kind of guy.  Since Jodi has been using these tactics for years, her own assessment of their life together as comfortable and pleasurable--is deliberate self-delusion.

Todd's delusion is that his "discreet" infidelities don't hurt Jodi or their relationship;  Jodi's willing complicity helps foster Todd's confidence that he is a great partner.

When Todd makes the great mistake of falling for Natasha, the daughter of Dean, his oldest friend, and she turns up pregnant and pushing for marriage, the house of cards begins to fall.  As much as Todd loves the way Jodi keeps his life comfortable, he is easily and apprehensively pushed into Natasha's schemes for marriage.  He can't understand why his oldest friendship disintegrates or why Jodi doesn't see that he has no choice.

(Big question for me is why Natasha would want Todd;  there are some interesting possibilities that may be implied, but are never really clarified.)

While we can marvel at the way each character fails to take responsibility for his or her actions, none of the characters are evil.  Nor are they likable.  We are not called upon to become fond of them, only to examine the way each character contributes to the inevitable destruction of a "marriage," a love affair, a friendship.  Jodi, Todd, Natasha, and Dean all collude in the events that transpire.

Provocative, thought-provoking, The Silent Wife left me pondering all of the elements that led to Jodi's decision to kill Todd.  Even that was a passive decision and passive deed.  A novel that raises a lot of questions and avoids judgement per se, leaving the reader to wander in the wasteland of several lives.  Recommended.

NetGalley/Penguin Group

Psychological. 2013. Print version:  336 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0143123238


  1. I have an ARC of this one - yay! Sounds like a great read.

  2. I hope you like it! It has been compared to Gone Girl, but is a much quieter book, without all the high drama.

  3. Hmm. This does sound interesting. From your description it sounds like a book about relationships at first, but clearly it takes an interesting turn. I'll have to look for this one.

  4. Wendy - I liked the book. You neither like, nor hate the characters, but you get excellent insight into Jodi and Todd.