Alicia Berenson is found standing over her husband, having shot him five times in the face. Six year later, housed in a psychiatric unit, she has not spoken a word to anyone.
Theo Faber is a psychotherapist who has been interested in Alicia’s story for years. When an opportunity to work with Alicia arises, he jumps at the chance. Can he get her to speak again and tell her story?
Well, straight off the bat, WHAT A BOOK! I read it before I went to work in the morning, at lunch time, I even turned off the Liverpool match early (unheard of) so that I could keep going with it!
The story is told mainly from Theo’s point of view, interspersed with Alicia’s diary entries. It is an interesting technique that works well. Theo tells us about his work and the progress he is making in his new job, but we also get to know some of Theo’s past and personal life. It makes the book much more interesting than simply a log of his working life. It renders Theo into a very interesting character.
Alicia is another delight (not sure if that is the correct term) of a character. She conveys so much despite her lack of words. Her diary entries are written with a fierce honesty yet also a veil of paranoia. I didn’t know if I could believe what she had written or not. This was another great tool for Michaelides to use. It put the reader at a disadvantage as to whether she was trustworthy or not.
The other characters in the book play a big part; from the staff who work at the unit with Theo, to Theo and Alicia’s family members. Again, I didn’t know who to trust and I went back and forth a number of times on certain characters. Michaelides really is great at making you doubt your own judgement.
And of course, if you have read any other review, you will have heard about the twist. Obviously, I am not going to give anything away, but holy hell, what an ending. Usually, I’m pretty good at figuring out what is about to happen but I was way off and very happy to have been so. A spectacular end to a deeply unsettling, tragic and compelling story.
Alex Michaelides has delivered a superb psychological novel. It is available in hardback on the 7th February. Do yourself a favour, go get it and write the weekend off!
Thanks to @bookishchat who delivered this to my door. This was an honest review.