Book Reviews / Books

Review: The Silent Wife – A. S. A. Harrison


Having spent the best part of two weeks reading the mammoth A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, I was keen for the next book I read to be significantly shorter. And thus I began The Silent Wife – a New York Times bestseller and the first novel by Toronto-based A. S. A. Harrison who had already penned four non-fiction books. It was released in June to critical acclaim both in the States and the UK but the author sadly died while on the cusp of certain literary success.

Having drawn comparisons with Gone Girl, one of last year’s best-selling books and one whose title is now synonymous with thrillers, The Silent Wife is a stylish and chilling read centred around the disintegrating relationship between protagonists Jodie and Todd.

Elegantly written in a dual narrative, the novel is the very definition of a psychological thriller. Despite having been together for over twenty years, Jodie and Todd remain unmarried and Todd – a frequent philanderer – lives a dual existence while Jodie lives in denial. It is clear from very early on in the novel that their relationship is troubled, but to the outside world Jodie and Todd put on a deceptively harmonious front until what begins as an innocent affair for Todd takes on a life of its own, causing a rift that can never be healed.

Not dissimilar to Gone Girl, the two central characters in The Silent Wife are both deeply unpleasant with huge emotional issues that neither is willing to admit. The prose is spare and elegant, the twist superbly constructed and the plot is cunning to the very end. That A. S. A. Harrison died in the midst of her second psychological thriller is a huge shame not only for those close to her, but to the legion of fans she seduced with her compelling debut.

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About The Silent Wife

A chilling psychological thriller about a marriage, a way of life, and how far one woman will go to keep what is rightfully hers:

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept. Expertly plotted and reminiscent of Gone Girl and These Things Hidden, The Silent Wife ensnares the reader from page one and does not let go.

About A. S. A Harrison

A. S. A (Susan) Harrison’s previous books include Orgasms (Coach House Press, 1974), Revelations, with Margaret Dragu (Nightwood Editions, 1987), and Zodicat Speaks (Viking Penguin, 1996). The Silent Wife is her debut novel and she was at work on a new psychological thriller when she died in 2013, aged 65. Harrison was married to the visual artist John Massey and lived in Toronto.

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