top of page

Sixx Cool Moms Book Club Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The members of the Sixx Cool Moms Book Club vote on a book to read each month, and these ladies love some psychological thrillers! I am often amazed how resounding the voting leans toward murder mysteries or mind-twisting novels. Our read for February/March fell into this theme and did not disappoint. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was an instant #1 New York Times Best Seller with currently over 300,000 reviews. It is rumored to be in movie production as well.  Our book club discussion centered around how soon each of us figured out the “Who-dun-it” of this twisted plot that keeps you guessing right up until the end. It was a hit with our members!

This psychological thriller follows the story of Alicia Berenson, a renowned painter, who is found with her husband’s dead body. He was tied up and shot five times in the head. When she was found, her wrists were slit, and she would not speak. In fact she would go on without speaking for years, which resulted in her being sent to a mental institution called The Grove. There were no clues to what happened that day, but the last painting she had created was a self-portrait which was signed Alcestis. The reader is given glimpses into Alicia’s mind through the reading of her diary in portions, painting a picture of a happily married woman to her husband Gabriel. We also learn that she did suffer from depression, which Gabriel encouraged her to work through by writing in this diary.

The other main character of the book is introduced to us as the narrator of the story. Theo Faber is a forensic psychotherapist who is intrigued with Alicia’s story and comes to work at The Grove in an attempt to get through to Alicia and get her speaking about what happened that night. Upon his first visit with Alicia, he finds her heavily medicated by her primary therapist, Christian West. Theo requests that her dosage be dropped so he can more easily connect with her. Upon their next visit, she is more alert and attacks him. He sees this resulting anger as the reason for the therapists medicating her in the first place, but he doesn’t want her medicated, because he is trying to connect with her and get her to communicate.

The story follows Theo through his daily life where he becomes a sort of detective, reaching out to people who knew Alicia, to try to uncover why Alicia killed her husband and now won’t speak. He learns that she was sent to stay with her Aunt Lydia and cousin Paul when they were kids. From Paul he learns of her hatred toward her father, and particularly something she overheard him say when she was a child. This led to her depression and feelings of death. We meet other characters in Alicia’s life, including her gallery owner who was obsessed with her artwork, her brother-in-law who had made advances on her, and her neighbor, Barbie, who she had confided in on occasion. Theo also narrates about his past, where we learn that he has a lot in common with Alicia’s personality, including a difficult upbringing, resulting depression, and we hear the story of his meeting his wife Kathryn. Through this narration, we learn that he is convinced his wife is having an affair.

Through the interview process with Alicia, Theo requests that she be given some of her art supplies to try to encourage her to open up again. This results in her painting a picture which appears to be of Theo rescuing her from a burning Grove Institution, although it isn’t made clear to the reader whether Theo thinks he is rescuing her from the fire or throwing her out of the building. After she stabs a patient with a paintbrush handle, her original therapist insists on her medication being resumed and her being put in isolation. Theo is told he can no longer see her for therapy sessions. During his last visit to her, Alicia gives Theo her diary.

The role of the diary being read throughout the novel gives us brief glimpses into Alicia’s life during the weeks before Gabriel’s murder. Here Theo learns that she was seeing a therapist off-record, and it was Christian from The Grove. He also learned that Alicia believed she had a stalker. Theo confronts Christian, as well as her cousin Paul, who tells Theo the story about Alicia’s father betraying her. This leads Theo to understanding why Alicia saw herself as the legend of Alcestis, who valued another’s life over hers, and became silent. He pays Alicia a visit to confront her about what he read in her diary and the meaning of the Alcestis painting, and she slowly starts to speak. She reveals the truth about the night Gabriel was murdered.

The author keeps us guessing throughout the novel. Did Alicia indeed kill her husband? Why has she not spoken for all these years? Is there someone else she is trying to protect? We are kept wondering throughout the story, right up until the end when the answers are revealed. Just when you think you know what happened, you don’t. You will never believe how this one ends! To find out what happened, be sure to check out The Silent Patient from your local library or join Sixx Cool Moms Book Club. to see our discussion!

Author: Kristen Kelley is a homeschooling mama living in Alabama with her partner and their daughter, exploring nature and enjoying country living. Kristen is also the Market Director for Sixx Cool Moms of Southern Alabama and NWFL, Sixx Cool Moms of Children with Disabilities, and the Sixx Cool Moms Book Club.



bottom of page