Thoughts after reading The Silent Patient

2021/07/09閱讀時間約 11 分鐘
I love reading exciting thriller or detective story when I was a bit younger. Probably because I didn’t have much experience about life, so I’d always like to seek for excitement, crime, and intricate story line, to show I’m smart enough to get the truth right.
As growing older, I prefer prose, short story or poetry that don’t necessarily have fast-paced and exciting plot but only slow move and reflective thoughts. So the read of The Silent Patient comes actually after a long gap of thriller in my reading life.
But the read is definitely an enjoyable experience. It is for sure a compelling and intriguing story that makes the reader unstoppable for continue reading.
Besides this general comment, I’d like to cover things I found particular and worth a discussion here.
The Timeline of the Events
I wrote the book review a few days earlier in Mandarin. At the time I have browsed over some reviews on Internet in my language, but none of them seem to mention this. So I thought I was the strange one to not get the timeline of two story lines.
Then I found another review on this book (written by Tahmina Khaleel; it is an interesting book review so give it a read!) saying pretty much the same thing. Kathy’s affair with Gabriel doesn’t seem to happen 6 years before, at least for me.
I also agree with Tahmina that the twist kind of nullifies the whole set-up, including others’ characters mysteries: Paul, Jean-Felix, Max, just to name a few. Seems that they have nothing to do with the story line, why building up their sophisticated relationship and stories with Alicia?
Probably to mislead readers and make the twist more astonishing. To be honest, I usually won’t be intrigued in all clues or incoherence in a detective story (and I wasn’t really bothered when I wrote this review in Mandarin a few days earlier). I guess I was just kinda triggered by readers’ comments and reviews, and felt wanting to be in the discussion too.
Hints in plot and Theo’s role characterization
While the chronological sequence appears to be a bit illogical, some hints in plot and Theo’s mental state characterization enable the story to be more consistent and relatable. We can see how Theo is like as a human being from his psychotic narrative, his memory of childhood, and how he feels when discover the affair of Kathy’s.
That being said, from the beginning til the end, Theo’s principle is always the same, and his behavior has always been based on that principle. He wants to help Alicia. He wants to help her realize the truth, help her speak out, and cure her. When she refuses to let him help, he finally decides to destroy her.
He uses the excuse to force Alicia to face the cruel truth that he himself never dare to confront. Thus he has been consistently hypocritical, and the ending makes sense.
There are some other clues in the story, for example in the beginning part, Yuri tells Theo to turn back to his wife and forget about Alicia, which hints the development of the plot. Another clue is in Alicia’s painting, which I will cover in next part.
Alicia as an artist
It turns out that Alicia is actually an intelligent artist, and I feel a lot details are hidden in her artworks. The most significant one is the Alcestis which resonates the Greek tragedy. I like the author’s new take on this Greek mythology, looking into Alcestis’s silence after coming back alive, which people rarely noticed this before.
The expression of that art, that she’s psychologically dead, is very much impressive. Another art of hers that I found fascinating is the one portraying Grove on fire and Theo carrying her; in the narrative of Theo’s, it’s unclear if he’s carrying her to or from the fire. A vivid reflection of Theo’s behavior in the story.
There are some other works from Alicia, like the one of Lidia Rose reclining on a bed, and another one of Gabriel on the cross. I didn’t have ideas for these paintings yet so I’ll just leave it here.
After writing this review, I read a few more comments everywhere. Some said they’ve been clear at the beginning that the stories are on two different time frame. The fact that Kathy sent message to Gabriel via email but not Snapshot or something hints at the time frame too.
Some said it’s intentional and it lets the twist hit harder. I’m more inclined to this but, like this poster on Reddit, I feel a bit annoyed at not being given any clues.
But that’s only my take on the book. Feel free to share yours!
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