Referred to as this year’s Gone Girl, of which I cannot draw comparison seeing as how I’ve never read the former, A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife is anything but your ordinary thriller. Told in an alternating duel narrative with chapters labeled “him” and “her,” the reader is thrown into the deteriorating relationship of Todd and Jodi: Todd is a serial cheater and Jodi lives mostly in denial. We are told that Todd becomes the victim of a murder. We are also told that Jodi is the one who kills him. We know the end, but what we don’t know are the details leading up to it, or, for that matter, the details of the murder itself…which makes for an interesting story. With every page I turned, I found myself constantly trying to put the pieces together, but it was not until it was actually happening that I knew.
Jodi and Todd had been together for twenty years, living in a spacious two-floor condo with a waterfront view as man and wife, only they had never actually gotten married. Todd had proposed to Jodi multiple times, but due to a fear that stemmed from her childhood, she never said yes…a fact which later on in the novel she comes to regret. Todd owns a real estate development business, making most of the money in the household; he owns the condo that they live in and supports Jodi. Jodi works part-time as a psychotherapist, seeing patients in her home, making up funny names for them like Miss Piggy. Through the years that Todd and Jodi have been together, Todd has strayed for the occasional affair but he has always come back. Jodi has been aware of these, but since she seeks to avoid confrontation at all costs, has never brought up her knowledge to him (although Todd knows that she knows), instead choosing to punish him in different ways, as we are witness to one of these in the beginning of the novel. Todd’s newest affair however, turns out to be the beginning of the end for him and Jodi, when Natasha, a young twenty-something devises a way to keep Todd in her life for good: she becomes pregnant.
The situation wouldn’t have become as complicated as it did if Natasha wasn’t the daughter of Todd’s best friend Dean (Jodi and Todd had literally watched Natasha grow up), and if Natasha wasn’t so controlling. While I have yet to pick out a favorite character in this novel, she is definitely not on my short list. Natasha is an instigator, constantly demanding things of Todd, the first and foremost of which is to marry her and pay for an expensive wedding complete with couture brides-maid gowns. I love fashion, but one has to ask the question, is that really necessary? I think not. Had Todd lived (because we know that he doesn’t live happily-ever-after), could Natasha have been exactly what he needed to settle down for good? Probably not. As the novel progresses, Natasha becomes more and more unreasonable, and I think that it was only a matter of time before he would start another affair and go back to Jodi.
Aside from a slow beginning, and a few awkwardly written sessions of Jodi with a therapist she had to see as part of her training (and I say awkwardly written because it’s structured like dialogue in a play, which seems a bit off-putting for a novel…at least to me), A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife will have you guessing until the very end.