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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What makes a marriage?.....
Ok, so I both loved and hated this book in equal measure. The story, that of a marriage disintegrating slowly but surely and told from the point of view of both of the partners, is compelling indeed. However the more I read on, the more I realised that I had no sympathy for either of them. Frankly they deserved each other! Sometimes though, having a book peppered with...
Published 14 months ago by Liz Wilkins

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78 of 84 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow, tedious and over-hyped
Well, the publisher's blurb describes this as `shocking and compelling' - I have to say that I was neither shocked nor compelled. The set-up is an interesting one: Jodi and Todd have been together for 20 years, they supposedly love each other but Todd is a serial philanderer and Jodi pretends not to notice. Then his latest affair with a girl young enough to be his...
Published 14 months ago by Roman Clodia


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78 of 84 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow, tedious and over-hyped, 26 July 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Silent Wife (Paperback)
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Well, the publisher's blurb describes this as `shocking and compelling' - I have to say that I was neither shocked nor compelled. The set-up is an interesting one: Jodi and Todd have been together for 20 years, they supposedly love each other but Todd is a serial philanderer and Jodi pretends not to notice. Then his latest affair with a girl young enough to be his daughter brings everything to a head.

The problem is very little actually happens. And what does is related in a very mannered and distancing style that grated with me. This is an extract from the first page: `At forty-five Jodi still sees herself as a young woman. She does not have her eye on the future but lives very much in the moment, keeping her focus on the everyday... she is deeply unaware that her life is now peaking, that her youthful resilience is reaching a final stage of disintegration'. The whole book is written in this style, drawing attention to an omniscient narrator who tells us everything that the characters are thinking and feeling, with hardly anything being dramatised or `shown' to us.

The writing is spare and elegant but it kept me at arm's distance from the characters - perhaps a good thing as they're both deeply unpleasant. Todd is portrayed as a leering, lecherous, Neanderthal, and Jodi is a psychotherapist who avoids treating genuinely ill or troubled people.

So I'm afraid I found this a slow, tedious and, ultimately, pointless read - 3-stars is generous but the technical aspects of the writing warrant it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ugh, 28 Jan 2014
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Silent Wife (Paperback)
Set in Chicago, Jodi and Todd have been common law partners for 20 years. Todd has been seeing women on the side on and off for many years but always remained by Jodi’s side – and Jodi’s known about it too. Then Todd goes too far and sleeps with his best friend’s 18 year old daughter Natasha and gets her pregnant. He decides to lose Jodi – and that’s when Jodi decides she’s not going to take it anymore.

I did not like this one at all. The characters were written in a way that I never really believed they were real people. Todd is cartoonishly portrayed at times while Jodi is simply a doormat until the plot requires her to be something else. Natasha is one-dimensional as the crazy woman going after Jodi. But more than that, I hated every single person in this book. A. S. A. Harrison’s unable to make anyone in this book interesting or likeable. Jodi is irritating as hell by being so passive and pathetic in accepting her partner’s indiscretions, content that he remains by her side, plying her with gifts while he fools around with younger women. Todd on the other hand is just a plain idiot, and the others, well, I couldn’t care less about them.

A big part of this problem is Harrison’s awkward writing style. The writing 101 rule “show, don’t tell” pertinently applies here as Harrison tells the reader about character qualities and story points without showing us. Everything about stoic, boring Jodi is told to us because she has no character. “Jodi is… Jodi was… She was…” and so on, while the narration is along the lines of “This is about to happen to her…”. It’s amateurish and embarrassing for a professional writer to put out such poorly written prose.

The book attempts to ham-fistedly explain the complications of common law partnerships in the wake of a break-up but all I could see was that Todd, the “bad guy” of the story, was well within his rights. He proposed to Jodi early on in their relationship but she kept turning him down so when they separated, she wasn’t entitled to half his stuff – which I thought was all well and good. He tried to marry her, giving her all the legal leverage she’d need to claim some of his assets in their breakup, but she said no, so it’s on her. Sure, morally Todd’s wrong, but he’s going to be with the mother of his child and, frankly, there wasn’t any love in his relationship with Jodi anyway – they were mired in routine and Todd seemed happy to be away from her.

The story is generally very slow and meandering with things just kind of ticking over for the most part. There’s too much psychotherapy nonsense in here that I didn’t care for – Harrison did some research and/or a psychology degree, here’s some stuff to prove it! It only becomes a “thriller” until the final act and even then I wasn’t that interested. And the “twist”? Pathetic. I could see that coming a mile off.

The Silent Wife is a boring, stodgy novel filled with unlikeable characters and a badly written story that barely interests. I wouldn’t bother.
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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What makes a marriage?....., 1 July 2013
By 
Liz Wilkins "Lizzy11268" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Silent Wife (Kindle Edition)
Ok, so I both loved and hated this book in equal measure. The story, that of a marriage disintegrating slowly but surely and told from the point of view of both of the partners, is compelling indeed. However the more I read on, the more I realised that I had no sympathy for either of them. Frankly they deserved each other! Sometimes though, having a book peppered with completely unlikeable characters works - and in this case it did. Instead of rooting for one or the other, I just found myself fascinated by the psyche of both...and actually getting quite cross with the pair of them. Jodie is a doormat. Yes she is. She runs the home with super efficiency, puts up with her husband's philandering and generally just enables him in his quest to do exactly what he likes. Todd doesnt know what he wants. He wants Jodie at home doing her thing, but he also wants to have the freedom to stray. And for some unfathomable reason, for a long time it works for both of them. Until Todd meets a woman who knows what SHE wants and from there this half life that both Jodie and Todd have been leading is going to come to a head....

The beauty of this book is that I didnt really know where it was going to end up. Both the major players have huge emotional issues and are seemingly unable to form coherent thoughts on what it is they think should be happening. The breadth of misunderstanding between the pair of them is amazing. And yet, it seems realistic. Hearing from first one then the other, seeing each different event from their individual points of view, works extremely well. Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive....that saying is oh so true here. Comparisons have been made to "Gone Girl". No. Sorry. Not sure where that came from, in my opinion it doesnt do either novel any good. The simple comparison yes - we hear from two players in an ongoing long term relationship - but other than that "The Silent Wife" is completely different.

Cleverly written, not needing to rely on too many twists and turns, I am saddened that we will not get more from this author who passed away this year - I think the reading world has lost something without ever knowing it had gained it in the first place. I would highly recommend you don't let this one pass you by. You may not LOVE it. But it will compel you to read to the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and addictive, 15 Dec 2013
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Silent Wife (Paperback)
Jodi Brett is a psychologist in her mid 40s. She has lived with Todd for 20 years, a happy relationship marred only by Todd's frequent infidelities, to which Jodi turns a blind eye. Everyone has faults, she reasons, and one must accept the things that one cannot change. However when Todd's latest fling turns serious, everything will start to unravel in Jodi's carefully curated world.

This is a very clever and highly readable book which alternates by chapter between Jodi and Todd's point of view. You won't like either of the characters particularly but that won't stop you from being riveted as their respective lives go off the rails. It takes a few pages to get into the swing of the writer's style and adjust to the omnipresent narration in the present tense, but quickly you'll be so hooked that you won't even notice it.

I had two complaints with this book. One is that the major plot point is given away on page 2. We are told that Jodi will be driven to become a killer, and while this does create a certain kind of suspense in terms of how she will get there and the specifics of what will happen, I felt it was massively to the detriment of the book as a whole. Instead of wondering what will happen you're wondering more how it will happen and what the outcome will be.

My other complaint is more subtle but it's about the name: The Silent Wife. A key part of the book is that Jodi and Todd have never married. They are "common law" spouses but the fact that they are not united by law is a critical element and somewhat makes a mockery of the book's title.

Nevertheless I really enjoyed this delicious story which is somewhat reminiscent of Gone Girl. It is a great shame that this author's debut novel is also her last one, as she passed away from cancer shortly before the book was published.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Put up a front, go through the motions, don't say a word, 25 May 2013
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Silent Wife (Paperback)
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This compelling book tells the story of two rather unpleasant people in a dysfunctional relationship. Jodi Brett and Todd Gilbert have been together for 20 years but (and here's the rub) they're not married. The reluctance to commit is all Jodi's, a decision she comes to regret when their relationship breaks down and she becomes "nothing more than an ex-girlfriend whose free ride is now over".

It could almost be described as the very definition of a psychological thriller. Jodi runs a psychology practice from their home, but seems to spend a lot of time giving her clients nicknames based on their particular mental quirks and relating the lurid details of their consultations to Todd. It's clear very early on in the book that their relationship is troubled, despite the shiny veneer they present to the outside world and the breakdown of their relationship and Jodi's efforts to salvage her comfortable lifestyle form the crux of the story. Todd is a serial philanderer (basically he's a total creep), but I found it hard to feel any sympathy for Jodi (can't go into too much detail without spoiling the plot). You won't like these people, but if your experience is anything like mine you'll feel compelled to keep following their self-destructive behaviour - the phrase `car crash TV' springs to mind.

The inevitable comparisons have been made with Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep - I actually preferred it to both of these books. It's also been compared to the Slap and I concur with this for the reasons mentioned above (dislikeable characters hell bent on self-destruction etc). It's not perfect - Jodi's friend Alison's rather extreme suggestion to help her out of her predicament, and Jody's willingness to go along with it, seemed a little far-fetched (in fact their friendship in general didn't really ring true) and Todd is a bit too much of a two-dimensional slimeball to be totally believable - but on the whole I was really impressed with this dark and disturbing novel and was very sad to hear that Susan Harrison died shortly before its publication.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PSYCHOLOGICAL PAGE TURNER, 31 July 2013
By 
Mrs. C. Swarfield - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Silent Wife (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is as chilling journey into the darker side in a marriage that will appeal
to all thoses that were hooked by Gone Girl. In fact I would go as far as to say
that this has the edge.

Jodi and Todd are an affluent Chicago couple whose relationship is fast unravelling
and falling apart big time. Whilst Todd is a dedicated cheater and committed to
deceiving his wife, Jodi is in absolute denial about this, and the tale is told in
alternating voices, this unsettling story of two people heading for a train crash
of catastrophic proportions is absolutely impossible to put down.

Tragically the author of this first class novel passed away before she had the chane
to see her debut novel published, it is a fantastic book - unputdownable.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hindsight may make me question only 3 stars., 26 Aug 2014
By 
Sue Ryan "Sue" (Newcastle upon Tyne) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Silent Wife (Kindle Edition)
This book had moments of looking as if it was going to become a 'gripping, can't put down' book but then it would change to 'wading through stodge'. In spite of that I had to finish it, and so it deserves its three stars. Jodi and Todd have together for 20 years, ever since she collided her car with his. He is a business man, involved in buying and selling buildings and she is a psycho-therapist who works from home. He finds it impossible to be monogamous and, for some reason, she continues as it nothing is happening. Their relationship has developed into a way of 'getting along'. The story is told by alternate chapters entitled, 'Her' and 'Him'. It written in the third person but the story is told by each of their thoughts and memories. She, herself, is in therapy and we are given some of those conversations. She is an Adlerian therapist, and perhaps, this explains why it is written the way it is. Todd is entrapped by the daughter of his best friend, with whom he is having an affair, and the story shows the disintegration of his and Jodi's 'marriage' as well as the disintegration of each of their emotional personalities. They are both entirely self-centred, each needing the other for support and emotional rewards. Parts of it reminded me of 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn but is not 'in you face' like that story telling. This is far more insiduous. There are few twists to the story.... it is quite relentless really.... but it offers a different sort of story line and has a bit of a surprise at the end to leave you with a little bit of a question.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Silent Wife, 20 July 2014
By 
Kat (Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Silent Wife (Paperback)
On my copy of The Silent Wife there are two back-cover comparisons to Gone Girl - and there are more on the inside covers, and even in the synopsis. And while The Silent Wife is a story about a marriage going completely wrong, I don’t think it’s really all that similar to Gone Girl - this is more a study of two characters, and their complete ability to avoid any and all confrontation until everything explodes.

Jodi is, to put it mildly, a cold fish. She’s controlled, has the ability to only see what she wants to see, and is obsessed with having what she feels is the perfect life. Todd is pretty much a dick - he’s a serial cheater, who seems to have very little moral compass, and almost no backbone. Which made him deliciously despicable - and every story like this needs a character to despise.

There’s not a huge amount of action in The Silent Wife - Todd and Jodi dance around each other for pretty much the whole book, Jodi is lost in her own idea of perfection and pretty much delusional, and Todd gets pulled from pillar to post due to his own spinelessness. All of which made it pretty engrossing - although it took a while for the actual climax of the plot, I was never bored or frustrated - rather I was completely intrigued by some very complex and difficult characters.

I know that some readers have to find something redeemable in the difficult characters, but there are few good characteristics in either Jodi or Todd, nor in any of the secondary characters. Both are rather closed off from the world, so there are only a handful of others to detract from their spotlights.

The Silent Wife is engagingly written - I could definitely feel the currents under the still waters of the characters, and it’s a story that’s incredibly easy to get lost in, and have that feeling of seeing an imminent crash - it’s hard to watch, but it’s harder to look away.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Better and different to what I was expecting., 21 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Silent Wife (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this once I got started on it.

Jodi and Todd have been together for over twenty years. As a couple they suit each other perfectly, are not without their problems, but seem to be one of those couples who can overlook each others faults and still work well together.

As the book goes on we find out that all is not as it seems in their relationship. Both come from troubled families, which have affected them in ways they don't admit to each other or even themselves. Todd has worked hard to build up his business and Jodi works as a counsellor helping people work through their own issues even as she keeps hers hidden.

But when a betrayal so big it cannot be ignored takes place, Todd and Jodi find they are fighting each other in ways they never dreamed possible.

I enjoyed the book, although occasionally I felt very frustrated at the characters, Todd in particular. One of his complaints about Jodi was her passivity, yet he seemed to drift along in his life avoiding decisions, doing as he was told, not speaking out about what he wanted to do or making a decision for himself and sticking to it. He seemed quite happy to float along being manipulated because it was easier than telling anybody what he really wanted or sticking to a decision.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superior Style., 6 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Silent Wife (Paperback)
The novel set in Chicago is told in alternate his/her chapters but not in the first person in either case. Jodi, the eponymous silent wife and Todd have been together for 20 years and Jodi has always chosen to turn a blind eye to Todd's countless infidelities in the interests of maintaining the status quo in their relationship. But then the unthinkable happens and Todd falls in love with a young student and not just any student, but his best friend's daughter, Natasha who is now pregnant with Todd's child. Todd plans to leave Jodi and marry his young pregnant lover and though initially taken aback at news of impending fatherhood, he quickly begins to anticipate the baby's arrival.

Jodi is a part-time psychiatrist while Todd is a self-made man, a property developer who enjoys "a bit on the side" believing his partner will be blissfully unaware of his dalliances and, even should she suspect he can always placate her with an expensive gift; Jodi is very cool and measured and loves her orderly, carefully planned daily routine and beautiful home. As the story unfolds we see Todd become torn between his love for his partner of twenty years and the needs of his young lover Natasha. He finds Natasha domineering, demanding and jealous now that he is living with her and realizes how much he valued Jodi's "great gift" - her silence. Jodi was never jealous or demanding and never created a scene. However, under increasing pressure from Natasha and ever mindful of her pregnancy, Todd realizes he has no choice but to evict Jodi from the home they shared for so many years.

Both Jodi and Todd have been damaged by their upbringing and difficult childhoods with less-than-ideal parents; this is probably why, although Todd proposed many times in the early years of their relationship, Jodi never wished to get married and the fact that the State of Illinois does not recognize common law partners leaves Jodi in a very precarious situation, something that Todd's lawyer regards as a gift and is willing to exploit.

The Silent Wife is a beautifully written book which builds slowly to its inevitable conclusion. While we are told at the outset that Jodi will commit murder, the journey to that murder is long and tortuous but never boring and there are still surprises in store for the reader. I found the crime itself doubly shocking because A.S.A. Harrison's prose is so restrained throughout this marvellous novel. There is also a slight ambiguity surrounding the crime and readers may draw their own conclusions.

This novel has been compared to Gone Girl but is, in my opinion, a superior book being more realistic and painting a quite chilling and far more plausible, picture of the disintegration of a long-term relationship or marriage.

If you enjoy fine story telling of itself and have no need of numerous murders, slasher-type antics and outlandish plots then this book is for you.
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The Silent Wife
The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison (Paperback - 21 Nov 2013)
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