Book review and synopsis for The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, a twisty psychological thriller.
In The Silent Patient, Alicia Berenson is a well-known painter who murdered her husband six years ago and hasn't spoken a word since. He was found bound to a chair with gunshot wounds to his face, and she was convicted soon thereafter.
Theo Faber is a psychotherapist who hopes to treat Alicia and uncover the mystery behind her motives for killing her husband. As they sit in silence, the main clue he has is a painting she completed. She titled it Alcestis, named after a heroine in Greek mythology who sacrifices her life to save her husband.
Part I introduces Alicia, a painter. Her husband was found tied up and shot dead. She has not spoken a word since, though she produced one last painting (entitled "Alcestis"). Alicia was found guilty and sent to a mental facility. Six years later, Theo takes her case over from another doctor, Christian. Theo learns about Alicia's prior trauma, stemming from her mother suicide attempt with a young Alicia in the car.
In Part II, Theo tries to treat Alicia by reducing her meds, allowing her to paint and talking to outside sources to learn more. (Theo finds out Alicia had once been assaulted by her brother in law, Max. And Jean owns the gallery Alicia's art was in, but she had been planning on switching galleries.) Alicia and her neighbor had also noticed a man (Alicia had suspected Max or Jean) hanging outside her house in the time prior to Gabriel's death. Theo also learns that "Alcestis" is the story of a Greek goddess who was sent to Hades (death) in the place of her husband. She was later saved, but never spoke again. Meanwhile, Theo discovers his wife Kathy is cheating on him.
In Part III, Theo follows Kathy and sees that her lover is also married.
Theo also learns that Christian (Alicia's doctor before Theo) had actually treated her even before Gabriel's death. Christian didn't tell anyone because it had been an unlicensed practice. This leads Theo to learn more about Alicia's prior trauma (after her mother's suicide, Alicia father wished Alicia had died instead). When Theo brings this up to Alicia, she finally begins to speak. Alicia tells him about the night of Gabriel's death. She says that man showed up, tied them up and shot Gabriel. Before he can follow up, the next day Alicia is found in a coma. Theo sees that she was injected by morphine, tells the others about Christian and Christian is arrested.
In Part IV, Theo goes to the house of Kathy's lover. It's Gabriel, and his wife Alicia is there, too. (This is the big reveal of the book. In other words, all the sections about Kathy, her cheating, and her lover were in the past. Theo is the mysterious man Alicia had seen hanging around the house and who showed up the night of Gabriel's death).
In Part V, we learn the real story from Alicia's diary. Theo went to Gabriel's house to show what a dirtbag Gabriel was. Theo tied Gabriel and Alicia up, exposed him as a cheater, and told Gabriel to choose which one of them he should kill. Gabriel chose Alicia, but instead Theo simply untied Alicia, and left. Then, Alicia shot Gabriel.
From Alicia's diary, we learn that Theo is the one who gave her the morphine. Theo knew from her story that she must have recognized him (she told an inaccurate story to test him). The night of Gabriel's death, Theo hadn't known about her traumatic history of feeling uncared for, and didn't know his stunt would result in her killing Gabriel. Later, Theo had taken for her case to genuinely try to treat her (he felt guilty about his involvement), but when Theo realized she recognized him, he had to kill her. The book ends with the police having found her diary and showing up at Theo's house (to ask him about it and presumably to arrest him).
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides shows you exactly what type of book it’s aiming to be from the very first sentence: “Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband.” No messing around here.
For people who like their thrillers-slash-mysteries to have twisty plots and straight-forward writing, this recent release is one to look at (but with some big caveats, so keep reading). Since its February 2019 release, it’s been climbing all over the bestseller charts and is being developed into a movie by heavy-hitters Annapurna and Plan B.
The Good Stuff
Let’s start with the good stuff. The premise of this book is fantastic. I was engaged right away. The ending is surprising, even if you guess the twist (I didn’t, but some might), and the way the crucial scene of the book plays out is well done. I was skeptical of whether the book would come together, and I pleasantly surprised that it ultimately does.
For most thrillers, I think, the ending is the make-it-or-break it aspect of the story, and this one is pretty solid. Michaelides’s debut novel is an easy, accessible and entertaining read, and it will undoubtedly make for a thrilling movie if and when that is released.
Overall, the story keeps your interest and is well-paced. It reads pretty much the way a thriller should read, with plenty of twists and intriguing bits of information doled out at a steady clip.
So, the flaws in this book are numerous, but they’re also pretty standard for the genre. The characterizations of characters are sort of silly or cartoonish (the motherly female doctor! the arrogant doctor who gets in the way! and so on). Michaelides throws in so many red herrings and false starts that the book begins to have an unintentionally campy feel. (Without giving anything away, when we find out why Theo gets knocked out, I actually rolled my eyes.)
As for the writing, it’s passable, but leaves a bit to be desired. It serves to move from one plot point to the next (sometimes rather clumsily), and that’s about it. And while I liked the ending, a lot of the minor plot “twists” are pretty uninspired — there’s a lot of “he said, she said” in the mushy middle of the book that more closely resembles a jumbled mess than an entertaining mystery. Most of those red herrings are left unresolved.
Finally, despite the steadily moving pace of the book, it takes a while to get into the meat of the book. There’s a range of characters to be introduced and decent chunk of background information to go over before the action starts to happen. As a result, it relies frequently on one of my least-favorite literary/mystery “tricks” to try to sustain the reader’s interest as it doles out background information — it throws out ominous-sounding narration to reassure you that things will get interesting later (I didn’t know then that it was doomed, I would later realize my mistake, etcetera and etcetera). Not a big deal, but I wish people wouldn’t do this.
Read it or Skip it?
The Silent Patient is a thriller that nails the ending, and for that reason alone I’m inclined to forgive a lot of its imperfections. I was perplexed by the main mystery in this book and felt that gratifying “oh man, I should have guessed this!” feeling when it was revealed. For me, this goes a long way.
As a fan of thrillers, I’m fairly forgiving of books in this genre that aren’t perfect. I found this book mildly entertaining, and I think there’s lots of people who will enjoy reading it, especially if you love smartly laid out plots.
That said, my main thought is that it will be much better as a movie. (And I wouldn’t be surprised if the potential to sell movie rights is why the publisher picked it up in the first place.) The basic frame of a really good plot is there, it just needs some retooling and a little more nuance. Given the fantastic reputation of the studios developing it, anyone who is not a fan of a genre should probably just watch to movie when it comes out.
That said, if you do like psychological thrillers and are not nit-picky about your books, this is a quick and fun read overall. If you liked The Wife Between Us, for example, you might like this book. Check out the Silent Patient on Amazon.
The Silent Patient is told with two intertwined timelines. The first is before the murder where Theo falls in love but gets cheated on. Theo then tracks down the “other man” (Gabriel), who turns out to be married to Alicia. Theo (wearing a ski mask on his head) ties them up, outs Gabriel as a cheater, and gets Gabriel to show what a jerk he is. (Theo asks Gabriel which one of the two of them — Gabriel or Alicia — he should shoot, and Gabriel chooses Alicia). Theo doesn’t actually shoot anybody, but Alicia is horrified enough by Gabriel’s answer that she shoots Gabriel.
The second timeline is what happens afterwards. Theo gets the job as Alicia therapist because he genuinely feels bad about what happened with her. However, Theo eventually figures out that Alicia does, in fact, recognize him as the masked man. He ends up killing her to protect himself, but not before she writes the truth in her diary. The book ends with the police coming to question him about the diary.
The big twist is when you realize that they are two different timelines (one before the murder, the other after) being told at once, and Theo was the “masked man” that prompted the murder (though Alicia is the one who actually did it).
What happens at the end of The Silent Patient
At the end of The Silent Patient, Theo goes to confront the guy that Kathy has been cheating on him with and we find out that it’s Gabriel. Gabriel’s wife is Alicia Berenson.
In other words, the entire book has been told jumping back and forth in time. The parts involving Kathy are all in the past. The entire book is happening because Kathy cheated on him (with Gabriel) and then it resulted in Theo showing up at Gabriel and Alicia’s house.
Theo tied up Gabriel and Alicia to scare them and to expose Gabriel as the slimeball he is. He forces Gabriel to admit that he’d be willing to let Alicia get shot to save himself. What Theo did not foresee was that Alicia would go ahead and shoot Gabriel.
The way that it plays out in present day is that after many months of therapy, Alicia finally talks. When she speaks, she tells Theo what happened on the night of Gabriel’s death — but she changes the story slightly to test his response.
However, from that story, Theo realizes that Alicia does recognize him as the masked intruder who tied them up. As a result, he injects her with something to force her to overdose, and it puts her in a coma.
Unbeknownst to Theo, before Alicia blacks out from the drugs, she wrote down her story and revealed Theo as the masked intruder. Jean (Alicia’s friend/gallery owner) ends up finding it and turning it into the police. The book ends with the police inspector showing up to confront Theo about Alicia’s admission.
What was Theo’s motivation in The Silent Patient?
Why did Theo want to treat Alicia? Theo initially genuinely wants to help Alicia. He didn’t think she would recognize him, and a part of him felt guilty about triggering the chain of events which landed her in the asylum.
Why did Theo kill Alicia? He had been wearing a mask when he tied them up and didn’t think Alicia would recognize him. He didn’t think Alicia would shoot Gabriel, because he didn’t know her past mental instability. When he planned out the scene revealing Gabriel to be a cheater, he genuinely just wanted to out him. Later, Theo realizes that Alicia is stuck in an asylum and not coping, so he feels bad that he started all this and goes there to help her. However, when he realizes that she has figured out who he is, he has to kill her.
How did Theo end up with the gun?
So, I’m not sure this is fully explained in the book (someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).
Basically, Theo shows up to the house with a knife, but ends up with Alicia/Gabriel’s gun. (In her diary, Alicia mentions that they have a gun, and she moves it into their cupboard at one point.) It’s not clear how exactly he knows where it is or how to find it.
I figured that Theo had seen the gun while stalking them. After threatening Alicia with the knife and tying her up, Theo probably went and found it. Alternatively, perhaps Theo saw Alicia go hide it while he was stalking them.
I don’t think there’s a clear answer here, but that’s what I figured probably happened.
Have more questions? Drop a comment, and I’ll try to answer if I can!
Recommended Published February 7, 2019
Page Count 336 pages
Goodreads4.18 (out of 5)
From the Publisher
Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations―a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....
Thanks for the detailed review.
I was thinking about reading it, even so, I haven’t decided yet!
It seems that there are plenty of thrillers which are ‘technically’ passable, or even good, but not brilliant, and the red herrings, small and big twists are surprising, but often expected. It’s not easy for an author to write a ‘different’ thriller.
I started reading Only Daughter recently, and I was really intrigued at first, but it’s quickly (25% in) becoming one of those thrillers in which every single character is suddenly getting a little crazy and very nasty… I’m not sure what will happen now, but I’m worried that the expectation at the beginning might just fizzle out…
Thanks for your thoughts! Honestly, if you don’t mind thrillers that are sort of imperfect (like you know they could be better) and are able to just enjoy the things that they do well, I think you might enjoy the Silent Patient. :) I still enjoyed it, so I think it just depends what type of reader you are!
Thanks, I know what you mean.
I think you sort of recommended The Wife Between Us. I’m going to go with that one. This reminds me of the last US election — the lesser of two evils. This is a very good review.
haha hope you like it if you get a chance to read it — there are a LOT of twists in that one so watch out!
Nicely done review.
Thanks Martie! :)
Thanks for the lovely review! I have been very hesitant about picking up this one even as a potential read but now I kinda have an idea what to expect with this one. I might pick it up just to see how the good bits play out.
thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy it — it’s not a perfect book but it is a fun thriller I think! happy reading!
hmm it may have some things wrong with it but it still sounds interesting to me, I love thrillers and psychological thrillers! thanks for the review!
Happy reading! :) Thanks for dropping by!
It is frustrating when we’re duped into thinking it gets better, the build up of suspense has to match the revelation. Although, how much does the fact that there are so many thrillers that we become desensitised to the shocking reveal? I’m excited to see how it’ll play out on screen, and I think I’ll skip the book, so I can be fresh with suspense when I watch the film. Great review!
Hi Sophia, thank you! I’m hopeful the movie will be really good and gone girl-esque, though it might take a while for it to come out. I totally agree though, there’s so many great twists and endings that people are so used to at this point, writers/screenwriters are going to have a harder and harder time trying to surprise people. Thanks for dropping by!
This book is so hyped. If you said it would be better as movie, then I hope it will be filmed, because I’d like to see it rather then read it.
haha yeah, I think that’s probably the way to go for this one. thanks for reading the review and leaving your thoughts! :)
Great review. I appreciate your thoughts and will probably wait for the movie. My reading time is so limited. Thanks.
Thanks Rosie! If the movie ends up getting made, I bet it’ll be really good. Thanks for dropping by!
I guessed the ending but I still thought the book was great. Fantastic thorough review!
Thank you Krista, much appreciated!
Hi there, when I reached the twist, my immediate thought was omg, this is exactly like The Wife Between Us, but I liked this one better. I guessed the plot of The Wife Between Us but this book was a slap on my face lol . I totally agree with all your “not so great part” of this book. This book definitely could have been better 😀.
I felt so stupid for not guessing the ending after I’d already read The Wife Between Us! But I think that’s why I was impressed by the basic plot of this book, I think he did a good job of making things come together in a surprising way that’s well set-up…even if some of the other aspects of the book weren’t perfect. Thanks for reading!
Loved your review because it’s so thoughtful and intelligent. The “mushy middle” description made me smile–I’m a writer and the middle of a book is a b***h to write.
Thank you, Emma! Haha, I can believe that. I wanted to make the point that even despite whatever flaws, I still enjoyed the book. And it’s being doing really well sales-wise, so even an imperfect book can be enjoyable and sell well :)
Thanks! This was our book club selection and reading it will refresh parts i’ve forgotten before the meeting!
that’s good to hear! thanks for letting me know it was useful to you, I appreciate it!
Great review! Recently the title caught my eye. I hesitated to purchase the book as one has only so much time to read in any given day. I think your review managed to change my mind though. Thanks! :-)
That’s great to hear, thank you! And thanks for letting me know! Happy reading :)
Thanks for the review! I actually just picked up Little Fires Everywhere yesterday, so now I’m even more excited to get started. :)
Great review. It’s on my tbr list, but I may read a preview before I invest time in this one.
I still confused. It was said theo was wearing a mask when he tied alicia and gabriel. but later, alicia said in her last entry, that after theo pulled the trigger alicia noticed she’s still alive and “theo was still there-pointing the gun to the ceiling. he smiled. he put his finger to his lips, telling me to keep quiet” and then “he kissed me ever so gently”. does that means theo eventually showed off his face? or is it too dark for alicia to see…
I guess with some ski masks you can still see part of the person’s face? Yeah it’s a bit confusing…
I was a huge fan of this book. i am not much a reader and this book had my nose shoved in it for three days straight so i could finish it. Some parts of the book felt like they hit home to as well..It is great book for reminders as married couples, people battle depression or battling inner issues. I will be looking for more books by this author!! LOVED LOVED LOVED!!
I agree with a lot of what you say, but I am getting tired of reading books with a twist for twist sake. So much of what makes a good twist is the idea that most of everything that came before it could be interpreted differently when viewed after the twist. Everything with the art gallery owner / friend makes so little sense in retrospect.
Why did the detectives not see the chairs when they came? Did Alicia move them? And if so why?
What about the snow at the end? How the police man/investigator was reading him the entry from the diary, and then in the next paragraph is him feeling the snow on his hands. I know throughout the story people are like oh it’s going to snow tonight and it never did. Did the built-up snow represent his secret but now it’s finally coming down and is revealed?
Hi Kylie — I went and checked the book, it looks like when the officer is reading to him, he’s next to a window and opens it in order to reach out for a snowflake. Earlier in the book he talks about how he associates snow with “grasping at happiness” and how snow wipes everything clean, so I think it’s a way of saying that there’s some sense of relief at his secret being found out? Maybe it’s hinting that now that he’s caught, he’ll be able to get the psychiatric help he needs as well? I think it’s meant to be ambiguous, but seems to hint at a vaguely positive ending. That’s my take, anyway!
Thankyou for a marvellous review. I read this after finishing the book, coz as rightly pointed, there r several flaws that leave question marks… Your explanation of the symbolism with snow in the end of the story was a good closure for me as I was left craving for some sort of final confession/regret from Theo in the end. Thankyou again for helping me let go!
Hi! I am wondering about Theo’s reaction to being caught. It is relief? What is the significance of the snowflakes?
Why does Theo need to kill Alicia? If he never went to work there, she never would have had the chance to identify him.
Hi Cc08, Theo goes because he feels badly about what happened and genuinely wanted to help her. He didn’t realize she would recognize him. Cheers!
It was really interesting to find out why Alicia was not saying a word even if she was called as murderer.
The best part was the final reveal of the mystery.
Hello there, I do appreciate this option now a days. That we can do this. I do really like this book. I heard the audiobook on a roadtrip and loved it. Maybe because I couldn’t read it through like a book I missed this but I am confused when Allecia had the chance to hide the book in the painting. The audiobook made it seem she was in her own room. Seperate from her art gallery and it seemed she was dying quite quickly as she was writing these events. I am just curious. Did I miss something?
Thank you for the detailed review. I had just finished reading ‘The Silent Patient’ and was a bit confused so I was looking for some answers. I had actually thought the main character had DID (newer name for Multiple Personality Disorder) and all the people in the story were Alters (parts of the same person!); I thought the main person (or host) was Alicia. In other words, each time there was a traumatic event in her life an alter would be “born” and that’s how they all came to be …But then I thought Theo was the main character (or the host). I put off these inconsistencies as it just “appeared” that way depending which Alter was out at the time. So am very thankful for your in debt review!
glad to hear it was helpful! :)
How does theo knw where alicia keeps her fun or if she has one.. when he comes as a masked intrudee
What do you think about the weather. In the present story (treating alicia) its winter. And the murder was in the hot summer. But when he talk about kathy ( should be in the summer) it says she had coat and gloves.
hmmm very perceptive — I’ll need to go back and check it out but my initial thought is that the stuff with Kathy happens over a period of time so perhaps the coat+gloves stuff is the previous winter?
I’m glancing through this rather quickly and will look more closely at it. My reason for coming here is to understand the plot. I admit I’m pretty ADD and I could have missed something. I’m a little lost on the plot?
I felt like it was an odd twist. I felt like this affair was going on the whole time he was treating her. Then he followed the guy and wanted to kill him. Then he was going to help this woman that was getting cheated on…. but all this happened before he was treating her?
What did I miss?
Hi, I’ve updated the post to answer your question!
Why does Theo act surprised and tell the hospital that he suspects someone tried to kill Alicia?
he’s trying to frame the other doctor
At the end of the book, when he opens the window to put his hand out to catch a snowflake, and then put it on his tongue. It then says he stretches out again to catch some more…to me that suggested he had thrown himself out of the window in a suicide bid. Is that an accurate interpretation? It would follow the lines of Alicia’s attempt after she shot Gabriel…for both characters (Theo and Alicia) to meet a similar end seems apt.
Hey Abigail — I commmented about this previously, but I definitely think it’s open to interpretations. Here’s my previous thoughts about it:
When the officer is reading to him, he’s next to a window and opens it in order to reach out for a snowflake. Earlier in the book he talks about how he associates snow with “grasping at happiness” and how snow wipes everything clean, so I think it’s a way of saying that there’s some sense of relief at his secret being found out? Maybe it’s hinting that now that he’s caught, he’ll be able to get the psychiatric help he needs as well? I think it’s meant to be ambiguous, but seems to hint at a vaguely positive ending. That’s my take, anyway!
So at last when the inspector arrives at Theo’s place and reads Alicia’s diary for him as Theo is sitting beside his window catching snowflakes , ‘he smiles’ is what it ends with . So then Theo is caught by the police for injecting Alicia and putting her into coma??
What happened to KATHY?
What happenns with the inspector, did he arrest Theo
Thanks for this review! I’ve had this nagging question since reading this book that I can’t seem to come to a conclusion about: Why would Alicia give Theo her journal? In essence, she was giving away the only evidence she had. He could have destroyed it at any point, and she would be left with nothing. What do you think?
I’m a bit confused. The role of forensic psychotherapist doesn’t exist in the UK. Whay has no one picked up on thos fatal flaw. We are Forensic Psychologists.
Oh that’s interesting. I’m U.S.-based (and don’t really know anything about the field) but based on some other “facts” presented in the book, it’s pretty clear he wasn’t trying to be all that accurate on the medical side of things unfortunately :(
how did Thoe got to know where was the gun?why did he brought the knife he only wanted to confront her?
Because he is a psychopath
Why did Alicia kill her husband
When I saw the author is a screenwriter all I could think of was that he wrote the book to be easily adapted into a marketable movie. It was a page turner that I read really fast which is good since I’m busy and don’t have tons of time to read. The mushy timeline was kind of suspicious but I just assumed I missed something that explained it. I didn’t figure out the ending but the red herrings were obvious. Love this genre so it was worth reading but not as good as many others of its type.
I loved reading through your review. Having read the book myself, I agree to your critique. I have a question, why did Alicia paint her and Theo running out of the burning hospital? What does it signify?
I don’t get the ending, was Theo arrested when the police find out the diary and what does that line mean when Theo said in the last “and I went to catch another one” did he jump out of the window? Suicide? Or was he simply arrested?
What lesson do we get from silent patient book?
Does theo also kill the agent in the end, and end up silent at a facility? Since he mentions him watching outside of the window..
ooo I never considered that idea, but I kinda like that theory haha
What happened to theo in the end? Did inspector Allen suspect him?
Great review! Just finished this book and enjoyed it but I confess I’m here for an explanation of the ending!! I got a little confused and partially understood the twist but was left with an itch I couldn’t scratch. I’m fine now after reading your review and spoilers – thanks!
so glad to be able to help! and thanks for dropping by! :)
what happened with Cathy ..Theo’s wife within these 6 years.?
Awesome! I have read the novel. Just googled it to see how people are reacting to it. For me, I found it wonderful. I especially love the twist at the end. This book is highly recommended. Everyone must read it.
You say that Theo had to kill Alicia because he realized she recognized him as the man who entered her house wearing a mask. So what? He’s in no danger of being exposed. She is not a threat to him, and the police aren’t going to believe what a crazy woman says. Why would Theo kill Alicia?
That’s the way it’s explained in the book, but you can decide if you find that explanation satisfactory or not
I simply loved The Silent Patient!.
I also was so absorbed with the plot and narration that I didn’t see the end coming and yes,it literally blew me off!
I have a website too and I am also writing a review of The Silent Patient.
I really loved your way of writing and yet to fully visit your blog which I am sure would be amazing!.
So Did gabriel ever loved Alicia?
Why did Theo spend so much time talking to Jean-Felix, Paul, Max ect to try and solve the crime if he already knew what happened?
Because Theo knew that Alicia didn’t kill Gabriel just because she came to know that he had affair. The emotions Alicia had when she shot her husband were originated with events of the distant past , with abuse and mistreatment at a young age. So , Theo wanted to find out how her childhood had shaped her. Which he eventually found out(about her father saying Alicia would have died instead of her mother.He had killed Alicia , just like what happened with Alcestis). Gabriel was the second man to condemn Alicia to death, which was more than what she could bear—which is why she killed Gabriel.
I enjoyed your review a great deal. That said, it seems that what you believe to be the less successful parts of the book, and the emphasis you put on them, have scared people away from what, on the whole is a very good read.
What happened when police confront theo??
I doubt why did alicia spoke, like what forced her to do so?.. After so many years of silence what urged he??
Why did Theo tell everyone that Alicia didn’t overdose herself, instead murder was attempted on her?
Nice review! It helped clear up a lot of things after reading it. But I’m still left with a question(a quite dumb one, i feel), did Theo at the beginning of the book, knew everything from the start like what he did to Alicia, Gabriel, and all those things? Sorry, I just finished the book a while ago my brain is still in kind of a mush
This might be an irrelevant question, but I thought I’d ask in case you have any thoughts.
Why exactly was Alicia unable or unwilling to speak after what happened?
I understood the literary purposes for Alicia’s silence- namely:
(1) to parallel the novel’s heroine & events with those of the play Alcestis, and
(2) its purpose as a plot device to heighten the mystery and compel Theo to seek Alicia out
But considering Alicia’s silence strictly within the confines of the novel’s universe, I don’t understand it. I don’t think she refused to speak as a sort of performance-art-like tribute to Alcestis. I feel like there may be some 3rd (psycholigical?) reason that I’m not grasping.
Basically, do you have any ideas as to why did Alicia’s trauma manifested itself as muteness?