The Silent Wife, A.S.A. Harrison: Book Review

Harrison left her mark on the suspense genre.

the silent wife asa harrison book review
The Silent Wife Book Cover The Silent Wife
A.S.A. Harrison
Adult Fiction, Thriller, Suspense
Penguin Books
January 1, 2013
Paperback
326

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.

This review contains spoilers from the book

The very thing that attracted me to this book was the same thing that deceived me, if that makes any sense at all. Just being honest: The Silent Wife was not better than Gillian Flynn‘s Gone Girl, as one critic writes on the back of the book. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have the same appeal, however, I only wished there had been a more developed and more interesting murder plot than the one that was given to us.

A.S.A. Harrison’s antagonist, Todd, is a cheating asshole who gets what he deserves; surprisingly, he more intolerable than Gone Girl’s Nick Dunne. He is unlikable, entitled and pathetic; those qualities alone are what made all the more real. Harrison could not have created a more loathsome character, which is one of the very reasons why I enjoyed this book as much as I did.

Jodi, on the other hand, is a different story; she’s a bit of a let down character throughout the entire book. She has a few moments of triumph that fall flat when she opts to be passive in moments of opportunity and strength and, dare I say, vengeance? For whatever reason, they both are incredibly unbearable because of their shortcomings: Todd, because he’s a dick; Jodi, because she allows Todd to be a dick to her. Repeatedly.

I don’t know a woman who would accept her husband’s affair, let alone make excuses for his getting his mistress pregnant. I couldn’t help but feel really disappointed in Jodi; she doesn’t assume any assertive position in this marriage, even when it’s well within in her right to do so. She just stands on the sidelines, helplessly watching her own marriage crumble. That’s not to say it was worth saving in the first place; she tried to kill him after all.

Oh yeah, let’s talk about that, too! Can I just say how much of a copout this murder plot was? Really? When I first read about her trying to get Todd to overdose, I was, “Okay… but that’s still a sort of lame-ass way to take out your cheating husband. Can we get more creative, maybe?” Think about the situation this way, Jodi: Your husband stepped out of your marriage with his friend’s daughter; he then tells you about it in a very nonchalant way; and ultimately tries to drive you out of the home (which he did pay for, but don’t stop me, I’m on a roll!) in order to move his slutty underage girlfriend to take your place? And the best you do with all that anger is call a hit out on your husband? COME ONNNNNN! Really? Why not pull the trigger yourself, Jodi?! UGH!

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Even though Todd does get what he (really) deserved it doesn’t feel right that someone else does the job for her. It feels like she’s not really vindicated through all of this, and it’s disturbing to see a man try to justify putting his wife out after he was the one who stepped out on her in the first place? I really wished Harrison had made Jodi a more critical heroine in this story, but maybe she was never meant to be that person; maybe she didn’t have it in her? But you see, I hate saying that because women do have it in them! *cough* Gone Girl *cough* 

On second thought, I don’t think it would be such a horrible comparison to make after I’ve reevaluated a few things: Gone Girl and The Silent Wife, I mean. Both authors craft characters that are as unlikable as they are intolerable and annoying to read, but it’s a formula that’s virtually fool-proof in a genre like this.

Also, can I just bitch about Todd again? The most entitled jackass character I’ve ever read. This jerk practically shits on Nick Dunne of Gone Girl; Todd is the worst, and here are all the reasons why:

  • He cheats on his wife with his best friend’s daughter because he’s a pedophile.
  • He gets her preggo and is practically ensnared into marrying her or risks getting killed by his friend; forced to divorce Jodi and assume fatherhood. Oh, and he does all this with no regard of his current wife.
  • After being forced out of his house, he has the audacity to send Jodi an eviction notice for her to move out so they can move in. Yet, he musters up the audacity to still want to be friends and go on casual outings with Jodi. Like WTF, dude? You just cheated on your wife, got another bitch pregnant and now you’re threatening to evict her so you can move your new tramp in and you actually expect Jodi to come by and slob your knob?! This shit ain’t real…somebody bring me the knife, I’ll do the job.
  • Then he gloats over the fact that Jodi should be thanking him for providing for her during their marriage. THEIR MARRIAGE. See this is the sort of craziness I can’t understand; the only role Todd occupies in this book is that of the cheating, self-absorbed ass-hole.
  • Then Todd cancels Jodi’s credit cards and is practically doing these things behind her back, trying to snuff her out of house and home financially. But okay, I understand he’s trying to save his own ass too, but does he really have to be a pathetic pussy about EVERYTHING?! He does these things to Jodi indirectly, which is a punk’s move, if you ask me. It seems like Todd was just desperate because Jodi wanted nothing more to do with him — and why should she?
  • He then decides to rinse and repeat his adulterous affairs — this time with Ilona, the foreign bar waitress whom he meets during his drunken outings alone. That was the tip of the iceberg for me. But wait, there’s a silver lining, finally! When he finally dies, it’s almost sad and pathetic that there is no one around to grieve for him.
  • Ultimately, Todd learns absolutely nothing. His legacy would’ve still been ruined by the fact that he made horrible mistakes before he died, only to leave the world a pathetic asshole.

Overall, this is one sad-ass story, man. However, I would have really liked to have seen more twists in this book that I probably would not have expected.

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A lot of what goes on in Harrison’s troubled marriage plot is very predictable: Jodi is trysted, Jodi is avenged, Todd is suffering, and Todd gets what he deserves. But does anyone really get what they deserve in this book at all? Perhaps that’s the reason I couldn’t bring myself to give this a 5/5 rating; no one learns anything and the whatever trace of morals there are in this book vanished completely.

In October 2015, The Hollywood Reporter announced the book was optioned for film, and that actress Nicole Kidman would be eyed for the role of Jodi. For that reason, I’d gladly read this book again because I’d love to see it play out on-screen.

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No matter whatever gripes I had with reading this one, Harrison has left behind a masterpiece that has earned its place alongside the ranks of Gone Girl. However, it should be understood that The Silent Wife is nothing like its forerunner in the literary sense; I’d say they’re more like sisters than anything: unlike one another, but equally brilliant.


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Written by Paris Close

Paris Close

Editor-in-chief at Paperback Paris. Saving myself for Andy Cohen. Give me Gillian Flynn, or give me death.