The Silent Wife was a first novel for A.S.A. Harrison, who unfortunately died earlier this year. It has received many rave reviews with the Daily Mail rating it as “Dark as Hell and totally engrossing.” Library details are ISBN 978-1-4722-1684-7, Headline Publishing Group 2013.
The plot begins with an in depth look at the two characters about whom the book revolves, with Jodi (the wife) first and Todd (the husband) second. Jodi is a psychotherapist and you get the feeling that she is actually psychoanalyzing herself. Todd, a much less complex character, comes across as every man’s friend with his apparently easygoing character. Todd, however, is a serial womanizer. He is also unhappy in his marriage to Jodi, wondering, “When was it that his home life became a penance?”
Jodi is very much aligned to the various psychotherapy theories and has been through the personal examination carried out by her tutors, so has a much better concept of herself than most people. This she uses to remain in personal equilibrium in the marriage which is going topsy-turvy.
After the introductions, the chapters alternate between the two people, with Jodi going into denial and Todd attempting to run two households, while attempting to fool himself as to his motives. Each chapter is also written in both the first person and the third person, making the reader something of a voyeur.
As the novel moves on, the two people find themselves caught up in the emotional roller-coaster, one in denial, the other hopeful that ‘somehow’ things will be resolved in the morning and everything will be fine!
In any marital problems, the advent of the legal profession is guaranteed to kill any residual ardor and will produce a confrontational situation, and this is a tipping point in the relationship, which was, up till then, looking as if it could be retrieved.
There is also the time when each has to review not only their relationship, but also their understanding of themselves as individuals. These two chapters are very deep and “Dark as Hell” as the Daily Mail declared.
The pace picks up as the end of the book approaches and you are taken into a mental maelstrom as all the psychological trauma takes its toll.
The book finishes with “No need to stare reality in the face if there’s a kinder, gentler way.” That may be so, but author A.S.A. Harrison does not follow her own advice all the way through the book’s plot. You will meet some very unkind and far from gentle aspects of the human psyche, and people’s reactions to each other, tainted by their own appreciation of themselves, or lack of it.
At B. 360 it is a very inexpensive read. A true psychological thriller which will keep you Jung (sorry about that) and remembering your own previous problems, fighting your way through life, and what it throws up at you!
The author, Susan Harrison (died 14 April 2013) was a Canadian writer and artist who published under the name A. S. A. Harrison. Shortly before the novel’s publication, she died of cancer, aged 65.