Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Pub. Date: June 25th, 2013
Length: 8 hours, 57 minutes


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 listener from its opening lines and never lets go.

What Did I Think About the Story?

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this story, which makes it somewhat difficult to pinpoint how I feel about it overall. I think this ambivalence was made even worse by the fact that I listened to the story and the two narrators were very good at bringing their characters to life, for good and for bad. It's such a unique and odd story that I just can't stop thinking about it even while I'm not sure I really enjoyed my time spent with it.

Let's start with what I enjoyed about the story. The way the author set the book up - with the chapters alternating between "Her" (Jodi's perspective) and "Him" (Todd's perspective) and with the reader/listener knowing from the very beginning that Jodi would somehow be involved in Todd's death - was fascinating to me. This back and forth development had me continually wondering when the actions that would inevitably lead to Todd's death would actually occur, especially given the fact that Jodi seemed always ready to justify Todd's actions and forgive him any infraction (and he makes SO MANY!). The two narrators (Karen White and Donald Corren) were excellent at fleshing out these two very different and distinct characters and making you feel like you could see right into their heads and understand, as best anyone could,  their motivations for the actions they take down this dark path. This being said, the excellent work of the narrators actually further drove home what I disliked most about this story.

So my biggest problem with the story? The fact that every single characters was, for me, wholly unlikable. While this fact doesn't typically keep me from enjoying a book overall, they were just so unlikable that I began to not even care about how the story would end, especially given the fact that I absolutely hated Todd. Picture for a minute the most disgusting pig of a man - the kind that leers at every woman between 16 and 60 and reduces them to their good and bad body parts, the kind that cheats on his wife consistently but doesn't see anything wrong with it because he "loves her", the kind that justifies his cheating as an animal sort of need, searching for the perfect woman to breed with - and you've got Todd. I found myself getting completely grossed out by his chapters and honestly just didn't care that he was going to somehow end up dead...he was just so unpleasant and had no self-awareness beyond his selfish needs. Jodi, while not disgusting, wasn't a very sympathetic character either as she came across as an incredibly intelligent if cold woman so willing to forgive Todd for no real reason other than they had a comfortable life that she would like to continue. Her chapters had quite a bit of psychological jargon in it as well (she's a practicing psychologist) which only really served to make her seem even more removed and distant from what was happening to her. Some slowly released backstory about her family was revealed that might have made me feel sorry for her, however this came out towards the end of the book and by that time I just didn't care anymore.

The final discovery of what happened to Todd and the aftermath that followed fell flat for me as well. There just wasn't any tension and release or twistiness that I really like to see in a mystery such as this. When the audiobook ended I honestly wasn't really sure what the point of the story even was.

As you can see this wasn't a hit for me, however I can't call it a complete wash either given how interesting I found the overall set up of the novel and the excellent narrators. I think this one is a story that readers will either love or hate, based on their preferences, and while I can't necessarily "recommend" it I will say that anyone still interested in it based on the synopsis might want to give it a try and see if they like it better.     

What Did I Think About the Cover?

It's not for me. It's just so stark and kind of boring. Given what sounded like a beautiful setting and all the drama that ensues in the story I would think so much more could be done with it.

My Rating: 2.5/5.0

I borrowed a copy of The Silent Wife from my  library's Overdrive system. All opinions are my own. You can find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, on Goodreads.

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