The Silent Wife by ASA Harrison is a difficult book to review. The author died before the novel was published, so it is her one and only work, and it’s received lots of plaudits in the book world. It’s frequently likened to Gone Girl (which I haven’t read) or Before I go to Sleep (which I thought was excellent, and reviewed for TV, even if my review was never used. sniff.)
The publicity campaign was excellent. The book came out in a prescription envelope. (No spoilers, you’ll need to read it.)
And despite all of this?
It left me cold.
I hate it when I don’t love a book that other people love. But I started The Silent Wife, then put it down, and it was weeks before I brought myself to pick it up again. It felt like hard work reading it – I was waiting and waiting for the something exciting or interesting to happen, and it happened, and I barely noticed. Partly because it didn’t really seem to fit with the style of writing – the characterisation and writing is excellent, I can see that. It’s just that I couldn’t bring myself to identify or care about the characters.
Maybe it’s the situation that grated for me. They just both seemed so entitled, that they felt they deserved everything they had without any work or effort, emotionally speaking. And as they weren’t invested, neither was I. The climax was anticlimactic in the least – I almost missed it, felt that perhaps I’d read the wrong end?
I know lots of people have raved about this. I’d be really grateful if you could explain to me why. What am I supposed to enjoy in a book about a relationship falling apart, where there seems little emotion on the part of the main characters about each other, and rather more about the apartment that they shared, and whether or not they can go on civilly having dinner parties? I just wanted them to get it over with. And the big secret as to what a woman is capable of seemed so unremarkable as to be something I almost missed. She seems a bit player in a drama that’s supposed to be about her, and he is a cardboard cut out of a serial cheat.
All that said, I think it’s a great shame that we won’t get to find out what ASA Harrison was capable of. Her writing is very nicely executed. I just felt that the characters were lacking, and the twist was implausible.
Have you read it? did you love it? Have I got it all horribly wrong?
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