Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was a quick read for me this past spring. I enjoyed it yet, Flynn’s magic lay not in writing a psychological mystery of amazing literary prowess, or even much thoughtfulness, but in making a book that rippled with suspense. Gone Girl was addictive. Gone Girl was a good book, but The Silent Wife is better. A.S.A Harrison wrote The Silent Wife last year but she died before she could see it published.
Jodi and Todd, married for more than twenty years, have survived because they were willing to see each others’ strengths and ignore their weaknesses. It is a rattling account of a familiar story, a stalwart woman and a cheating husband living in relative peace until something sets it off.
Todd’s most recent girlfriend tells him she’s pregnant. He leaves Jodi, even evicting her out of their condo. Because the two had never married, Jodi, the one with a low-income, finds out she has no claim on her home. Jodi feels threatened, and entitled to more after putting up with Todd and his infidelity for twenty years. Todd’s actions erode Jodi’s sanity, and she falls apart until she murders him.
The book’s strength is sheer interest in the characters. From the get go (first page) the reader knows Jodi will kill Todd, so the reader is interested in the set up, not the how. I particularly enjoyed the scenes where Jodi, a trained psychotherapist, recounts therapy she has attended in the past. Attending therapy was for her own professional development, but these flash backs revealed not only Jodi’s family history, but also theory about human behaviour. It ultimately shows the reader why Jodi, someone so sane and grounded, could murder her ex-husband. The book is heavy with description, particularly the scenes of Jodi slipping into depression, but the frill of the writing is how the reader becomes a type of therapist to Jodi.
Unfortunately, this will be A.S.A Harrison’s only fiction book as she passed away. You can read about the fascinating story of her life as an artist in Toronto in this article.