Reviewer Valerie Porter: Valerie is a freelance magazine writer and co-author of 5 books. She has also been a freelance book reviewer for a weekly Los Angeles newspaper and has written her own book blog.
She is an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction.
AUTHOR: A.S.A. Harrison
PUBLISHER: Penguin Books
The Silent Wife is a story of deception, denial and revenge. It’s a book of “if only” moments, the foremost one being if only main characters Jodi and Todd had realized how close they came to having it all. If only it had been enough for them.
Jodi Brett is a 45-year-old psychologist in a 20-year relationship with Todd Gilbert, who is in the building profession. They are so close and have shared a life in every way, and they are known as “Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert”. So much is right about their life together – they live in a beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, take walks with their dog Freud, sip martinis at the end of a workday. Todd has a thriving business. Jodi sees a handful of private clients in their home and gives them code names, which she discusses with Todd. There’s “the Judge”, “Miss Piggy”, “Bergman.” It’s just one more thing they share and enjoy.
In spite of this, Todd has had affairs throughout their “marriage.” Jodi has kept silent about it, willing to overlook his indiscretions because of the wonderful trappings of their life together.
Then one day, she begins to unravel. This time around, Todd has become involved with a young twenty-something named Natasha, who is the daughter of Todd’s close friend Dean Kovacs. Worse yet, it seems that Todd wants more from this new relationship than the typical fling he’s been content with before.
Jodi confides the full details of this affair with a close friend of hers, who has a startling suggestion on how to handle the situation. Even more startling is the fact that Jodi agrees to it.
A second storyline reveals insight into Jodi’s past, as we read of her sessions with her own psychologist, revealing troubling family matters since she was a child. This, too, is intriguing.
Author A.S.A. Harrison chose to tell the story in “Her” and “Him” chapters, focusing on each character separately. It’s very reminiscent of the highly popular novel Gone Girl. But in this reviewer’s opinion, the book is even better than Gone Girl – not quite so strange and every bit as thrilling and suspenseful, yet in a quiet way.
It’s a rare tale where it’s very tempting to flip to the book’s conclusion to end the suspense about what lies ahead. Harrison’s flair for this genre is masterful. It is hard to believe it’s a debut novel. As the last pages unfold, the reader may well exclaim, “Oh my God!” or just have a silent, jaw-dropping reaction, as revelations come about and the story hurtles to a fast-paced conclusion that will not be expected.
The real tragedy here – the biggest “if only” about the book – is that there will be no more books coming from A.S. A. Harrison. She passed away a few short months before the release of this novel. She would definitely have been an author to watch, with a bright and promising career ahead. It makes savoring The Silent Wife all the more poignantly rich and rewarding, just knowing that talent like this exists, if only for a few brief moments.