The Silent Wife

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"This summer's Gone Girl –  I gobbled it down in one sitting." – Anne Lamott, People
 
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 ...

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The Silent Wife

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Overview

"This summer's Gone Girl –  I gobbled it down in one sitting." – Anne Lamott, People
 
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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Canadian author Harrison’s first novel is a smart, nuanced portrait of a dying marriage. Psychotherapist Jodi Brett is content with her tidy, tranquil existence—cooking for her husband, Todd Gilbert; walking the dog; seeing a few clients out of their gorgeous Chicago condo—while headstrong Todd works as a professional renovator. As Jodi sees it, they complement each other, and she doesn’t mind pretending to disregard Todd’s indiscretions (which he clumsily attempts to cover up) in exchange. Accepting the peccadillos of her adulterous husband is one thing, but when Todd takes his infidelity to the next level and tells her that he’s leaving her, the existence she’s clung to so dearly is destroyed. And Jodi will do anything to take it back. And she does. Harrison (Zodicat Speaks and three other nonfiction titles) breathes life into Adlerian psychology, and weaves theory into a heart-pounding thriller that will keep you up at night. Agent: Samantha Haywood, Transatlantic Literary Agency (Canada). (July)
Kirkus Reviews
Harrison's first novel tells the story of a couple splitting apart, with alternating chapters featuring the viewpoints of the main characters. Jodi Brett and her longtime companion, Todd Gilbert, have been in a satisfying 20-year relationship. Jodi, a psychotherapist, works out of their expensive Chicago condominium, seeing two clients a day during the week and spending the remainder of her time taking classes in flower arranging, walking their golden retriever, Freud, and preparing gourmet meals. Todd, who worked his way up in independent development by flipping properties, had an unhappy childhood. Their comfortable life, marred only by his occasional straying eye, seems to suit them both, at least until he catches sight of Natasha. The daughter of an old friend, Natasha is no longer a pimply teenager with black nail polish and garishly dyed hair. Instead, she has turned into a curvaceous coed who becomes involved in a tempestuous relationship with Todd, the man Jodi thought would always be there for her. Now, Natasha is demanding that Todd leave Jodi and seems determined to make that happen, even if she has to resort to a few nasty tricks of her own. But Jodi isn't through with Todd, nor is she ready to roll over and play dead: In fact, if anything, she's prepared to make sure someone else meets that fate if that's what it takes to stop the events that threaten to disrupt her carefully ordered existence. Harrison, who in real life is also a psychotherapist, writes a neat atmospheric tale that examines life from both characters' points of view but sometimes works a bit too hard to cram extraneous detail into the story, particularly when it comes to psychotherapy and Jodi's present clients. While readers can probably get over a few mentions of Jodi's work, the Q-and-A style rendition of her own therapy and references to different schools of psychological thought may make readers' eyes glaze. Harrison pens a good, basic story stretched thin by unnecessary and distracting detail.
Library Journal
Jodi has led a quietly ordered and opulent life with her partner, Todd, for the past 20 years. She considers herself to be a flexible and understanding better half, who reacts to Todd's indiscretions by cooking him his favorite meal to remind him of their stable home life. A psychiatrist, she perceives an insurmountable difference between herself and her clients, whom she thinks would benefit from accepting the low points of their lives along with the high ones. But the events that Todd is about to set in motion will test Jodi's limits to a harrowing degree and cause a secret that she buried long ago to resurface. Told in the alternating voices of Jodi and Todd, Harrison's novel is the story of what happens when the life we've worked so hard to achieve is exposed as an illusion. VERDICT Reminiscent of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, Harrison's (Zodicat Speaks) fiction debut is at once coolly detached and heartbreakingly accurate. Sure to be a hit with psychological-thriller fans.—Caitlin Bronner, St. Joseph's Coll. Lib., Brooklyn, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143123231
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 6/25/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 27,969
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

A. S. A. Harrison was the author of four books of nonfiction. The Silent Wife is her debut novel and she was at work on a new psychological thriller when she died in 2013. She lived with her husband, visual artist John Massey, in Toronto, Canada.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

HER

It’s early September. Jodi Brett is in her kitchen, making dinner. Thanks to the open plan of the condo, she has an unobstructed view through the living room to its east-facing windows and beyond to a vista of lake and sky, cast by the evening light in a uniform blue. A thinly drawn line of a darker hue, the horizon, appears very near at hand, almost touchable. She likes this delineating arc, the feeling it gives her of being encircled. The sense of containment is what she loves most about living here, in her aerie on the twenty-seventh floor.

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 assumes, without having thought about it, that things will go on indefinitely in their imperfect yet entirely acceptable way. In other words, she is deeply unaware that her life is now peaking, that her youthful resilience—which her twenty-year marriage to Todd Gilbert has been slowly eroding—is approaching a final stage of disintegration, that her notions about who she is and how she ought to conduct herself are far less stable than she supposes, given that a few short months are all it will take to make a killer out of her.

If you told her this she would not believe you. Murder is barely a word in her vocabulary, a concept without meaning, the subject of stories in the news having to do with people she doesn’t know and will never meet. Domestic violence she finds especially implausible, that everyday friction in a family setting could escalate to such a degree. There are reasons for this incomprehension, even aside from her own habit of self-control: She is no idealist, believes in taking the bad with the good, does not pick fights, and is not easily baited.

The dog, a golden retriever with a silky blond coat, sits at her feet as she works at the cutting board. Every now and then she throws him a slice of raw carrot, which he catches in his mouth and joyfully grinds up with his molars. This vegetable toss is a long-standing predinner ritual, one that she and the dog have enjoyed from the time she brought him home as a roly-poly pup to take Todd’s mind off his yearning for progeny, which sprang up, seemingly overnight, around the time he turned forty. She named the dog Freud in anticipation of the fun she could poke at his namesake, the misogynist whom she was forced to take seriously at university. Freud passing gas, Freud

eating garbage, Freud chasing his tail. The dog is endlessly good-natured and doesn’t mind in the least being an object of fun.

Trimming vegetables and chopping herbs, she throws herself bodily into the work. She likes the intensity of cooking—the readiness of the gas flame, the timer marking off the minutes, the immediacy of the result. She’s aware of the silence beyond the kitchen, everything rushing to the point in time when she’ll hear his key in the lock, an event that she anticipates with pleasure. She can still feel that making dinner for Todd is an occasion, can still marvel at the stroke of fate that brought him into her life, a matter of rank chance that did not seem to favor a further acquaintance, much less a future of appetizing meals, lovingly prepared.

It came to pass on a rainy morning in spring. Busy with her graduate studies in psychology, waiting tables at night, overworked, exhausted, she was moving house, driving north on State Street in a rental van loaded with her household goods. As she prepared to change lanes from right to left she might have looked over her shoulder or maybe not. She found the van awkward, didn’t have a feel for it, and on top of this her windows were fogged and she’d missed her turn at the last set of lights. Given these conditions she might have been distracted—a question that later came to be much discussed between them. When he clipped her driver’s-side door and spun her into oncoming tragic, there was a general honking of horns and squealing of brakes, and before she could pull herself together—before she fully realized that her van had come to a standstill and she was perfectly alright—he was screaming at her through her closed window.

“You crazy bitch. What in God’s name do you think you’re doing? Are you some kind of maniac? Where did you learn to drive? People like you should stay off the road. Are you going to get out of your car or are you just going to sit there like an imbecile?”

His tirade that day in the rain did not give a favorable impression, but a man who’s been in a car crash is going to be irate even if it’s his own fault, which in this instance it was not, so when he called a few days later to ask her to dinner, she graciously accepted.

He took her to Greektown, where they ate lamb souvlaki washed down with cold retsina. The restaurant was crowded, the tables close together, the lights bright. They found themselves shouting over the din and laughing at their failure to be heard. What conversation they could manage was pared down to succinct phrases like, “The food is good . . . I like it here . . . my windows were fogged . . . if it hadn’t happened I would never have met you.”

She didn’t go out on many bona fide dates. The men she knew from university took her for pizza and beer and counted out their money. They’d meet her at the restaurant scruffy and unshaven, still in the clothes they’d worn to class. Whereas Todd had put on a clean shirt, and he’d picked her up, and they’d driven to the restaurant together—and now he was looking after her, refilling her glass and checking on her comfort level. Sitting across from him, she was pleased with what she saw—the way he casually took up space and his air of being in charge. She liked the homey habit he had of wiping his knife on his bread and that he put down his credit card without looking at the bill.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 253 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 253 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2013

    L

    I really wish these plot spoilers would learn how to write a review. A review is simply a few lines telling if you liked the book or not. You do not have to write a book report on it, this is not high school or college, where you have to give away every detail including the ending. You plot spoilers ruin it for other readers. And before some smart aleck says dont read them....i dont. But when you have to scroll past miles of posts where they tell every detail, you will see something that gives away the story, thereby ruining it for you. Please plot spoikers, have the decency to think of other ppl and stop ruining books by telling the entire plot line. Please stop it. Bn, please ban these ppl, please?

    124 out of 176 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2013

    Plot spoilers

    I agree! Please just
    give us a review not a darn book report!!!!!

    29 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    A Great Read!

    I did read "Gone Girl" and it ended with me wanting more.
    This book was awesome. Couldn't put it down. Highly recommend it!!!

    24 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2013

    Great Thriller Book!Having not read Gone Girl I really didn¿t ha

    Great Thriller Book!Having not read Gone Girl I really didn’t have anything to compare this book to. I always think that when a book is compared to another, it dilutes the experience for the reader because it becomes more of a comparative analysis-rather than just having an organic reading experience.

    I read this book pretty quick. While the subject matter is heavy, the storyline really didn’t dive deep into issues of infidelity, betrayal, anger, and guilt. Each chapter alternates with a “his” and “her” chapter, giving the reader an inside perspective to that person’s opinion. While it was interesting to read both points of view, both Jodi and Todd don’t ever really look at the ramifications of their actions and don’t take full responsibility for their decisions.

    On the whole, the book seemed a little surface to me-touching on topics, but not really exploring the in’s and out’s of a relationship on the brink of destruction. However, it would make for a great book to discuss with others-at a book club or just readers chatting about it, because the subject matter is prevalent and affairs happen quite often.

    While the author doesn’t spell out for the reader the why’s, it was quite interesting to read how easy it is for couple’s to come together through their own pain and personal issues, how childhood impacts adult relationships, and that in the end-everyone wants to be loved and respected.

    There was a lot of dialogue between Jodi and her therapist, who modeled this counseling approach to Adlerian. This was also the model Jodi used in her own private practice and how she approached her own relationship with Todd. While Jodi is quite focused with her clients and helps them to be aware of their situations, be empowered, and create the change they want, she is unable to do that in her own relationship. Rather, she diverts to modeling her relationship with Todd like that of her own parents. Whereas Todd feels entitled and feels that because he isn’t an alcoholic like his father, that he is that much better as a partner. Sadly, they both never work together to create their own rules and follow through with their own relationship expectations. Both seem to be cohabitating and living parallel lives.

    Overall, this was a great book! I was sad to read that A.S.A. Harrison passed away from cancer before her first novel-The Silent Wife, was published. I would have loved for her to have seen the success of her own book and wish her loved ones some healing and hope during this difficult time in their lives.

    20 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2013

    This is NOT, as some readers say, another Gone Girl. But it is p

    This is NOT, as some readers say, another Gone Girl. But it is pretty darned good. Not as much creepiness as Gone Girl; not as spine-shivering psychologically. But a good story with a bit of mystery and an ending that surprises even after you think you have it all figured out. It's not spoiling to say that I disliked the husband from the beginning and kept saying she had every right to kill him. It was surprising that her first attempt, such as it was, came so early in the book. And the story held on to me from there on out. The main character, Jodi, has many layers. It takes most of the book to see them all and understand why she handles things as she does. She's a psychologist and it's about psychology. Pretty interesting. Really worth the read.

    18 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2013

    Good, quick read

    The book is dramatic and mysterious with a few unexpected twists. I enjoyed reading it.

    18 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2013

    The Silent Wife marks A.S.A.Harrison's fiction debut. I love

    The Silent Wife marks A.S.A.Harrison's fiction debut.

    I love psychological thrillers and Harrison has written a doozy. (Don't you love that word!?)

    Jodi and Todd are one of 'those' couples. Successful, well to do and leading a seemingly perfect life together. Oh, there are a few little bumps, but this is the life Jodi has created and she likes things just so. And yes, Todd wanted children, but over their twenty year relationship, it's been accepted that there won't be any. Well, yes he might cheat once in a while, and Jodi is somewhat aware of it. Todd knows she knows, but it's not spoken of and life goes on.

    "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 assumes, without having thought about it, that things will go on indefinitely in their imperfect yet entirely acceptable way. In other words, she is deeply unaware that her life is now peaking, that her youthful resilience - which her twenty-year marriage to Todd Gilbert has been slowly eroding - is approaching a final stage of disintegration, that her notions about who she is and how she ought to conduct herself are far less stable that she supposes, give that a few short months are all it will take to make a killer out of her."

    That's the second paragraph in the book - and I was hooked. Harrison explores this marriage in alternating chapters - Her and Him.

    Harrison is a talented wordsmith who skilfully depicts the disintegration of not just a union, but of the individuals as well. Jodi's chapters are eerie and disturbing as she maintains a perfect, cool, calm exterior, keeping to her routines in her spotless home. Just as disturbing is the self centred, pleasure seeking Todd, who can explain away and justify any of his behaviors and actions.

    It is one of those actions that starts the beginning of the end......

    There is no overt gore or violence in The Silent Wife. Rather there is the slow, building journey to a conclusion I couldn't predict. Along the way, we learn more about Jodi and Todd's childhoods.The Silent Wife is a fascinating exploration of both a damaged relationship and its affected inhabitants. I really enjoyed the building tension as the chapters alternate and the layers and the civility are peeled away. Its impossible not to read just one more chapter...

    Rea Sadly, A.S.A. Harrison passed away earlier this year in Toronto, Canada and did not live to see her book release last month.

    14 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Jodi and Todd, a psychologist and builder, seem like the proverb

    Jodi and Todd, a psychologist and builder, seem like the proverbial happily married couple.  Their lives are highly ordered and have no lack, except for the children Todd wants and Jodi cannot give him.  Still they stay together and really do love each other deeply.  This is the story of their unraveling marriage but not told in the stereotypical way so frequently found in other fiction.  The control Jodi and Todd exert in their lives harbors anxiety, denial, rage, and so many repressed memories that are about to surface!
    First we learn of Todd’s extra-marital activities which he sees as absolutely harmless.  But that’s about to change when he dates the daughter of a good friend and that young woman becomes pregnant.  That is what at first horrifies him and then serves as the impetus for his leaving Jodi and making plans to wed Natasha.  At first Jodi handles it with equanimity but little by little she starts remembering more of her own past therapy, her own family memories, her own repressed, ultra-state of denial.  Many more secrets lie in these pages, exposed like an onion being peeled and yielding a stinging, teary, piercing affect!
    Todd also begins remembering more, especially when he undergoes quite a fright over something he never deemed possible and Natasha’s tender love turns into nagging and harshness.  She even wants to be friends with Jodi, which is one of the most incredible moments in the novel. Todd seems to think he can stay friends with Jodi even though he has his lawyer give her thirty days to leave their former home.
    On and on it goes, a study in what really drives people to violence and revenge.  But it’s done with such graceful, gradual subtlety that the reader knows what’s coming and yet is crept forward toward the shocking end inch by inch by inch!  
    Jodi is about to become an amazing woman, in more ways than one for sure! The Silent Wife: A Novel is a superb crime or psychological thriller crafted by someone who truly knows her topic and can write a stunning plot as well! Superb writing and consequently reading!

    14 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2013

    Summer Must Read Page Turner

    I couldn't put the book down.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Interesting....

    Very intriguing

    8 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    You wont be disappointed

    This book had a good flow, although it was a bit wordy towards the end. Harrison provides good descriptions throughout, making the reader feel as if they're living the lives of the characters. The ending had a twist to it & was a bit abrupt, but i've recommended it to others.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    Not Gone Girl

    This was a good read. A quick, page-turner. But to compare it to the masterpiece that is "Gone Girl" is a bit of a stretch.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2013

    Not Gone Girl

    Someone said this is the next "Gone Girl", not even close! Was not surprised or even interested. The characters in this book are not all that interesting or deep for that matter. It was a challenge to finish, but I did hoping for that dramatic twist that never came to light.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    I enjoy psychological explorations into the mind. This is a fa



    I enjoy psychological explorations into the mind. This is a fascinating peek into a damaged union, an exciting crime and psychological thriller that reveals the value of silence and time. A good plot, a lot of insight by an author who quite possibly lived it to get the details so right on. The is a very interesting read that is worth heeding.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Mesmerizing

    The author uses a unique writing style and presentation of characters to paint a vivid canvas telling a familiar story of betrayal in a deeply personal and different way. A real page-turner through the end. Loved it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013

    A psychological point of view

    This book has been compared extensively to Gone Girl, but it is much more of a psychological thriller. Yes it involves mystery and suspense, but it is all about what psychologically leads to a murder. I have to admit, maybe I enjoyed it because I am a psychology student so I understood all the psychology facts and references. With this said, it may have seemed a bit slow otherwise. Overall it was interesting and I had a hard time putting it down, but unless you are interested in the psychological aspects of humans, it may not appeal to you.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2013

    Thanks for the spoilers!!!

    Well i was all set to read this, until i read the reviews. Please for the love of god, DON'T PUT SPOILERS IN YOUR REVIEW!!! Now I know what happens, stupid jackasses!!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2013

    A Good Read

    I liked Gone Girl and i liked the Silent Wife. Interesting twist to tell you the end of the book upfront. It was good to see how it unfolded.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Superb book. Simply told, but with an underlying intense emotio

    Superb book. Simply told, but with an underlying intense emotional depth for both Jodi and Todd, that develops quickly and extremely suspensefully. For the intelligent reader.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    "Silence is Golden"

    Whoever it was who coined that old adage would likely agree with me that in the case of THIS story's 'WIFE'... silence is not only golden, but is totally life redeeming! For all women who are partnered with a Todd-like character (and who of us, much to our dismay, wouldn't LOVE to be?) the author of this book (may she rest in peace) has provided a smart guide on how to triumph in the end by the not so simple act of keeping ones fears and evil thoughts from erupting through ones mouth!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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