Thursday, May 22, 2014

Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

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.

Each chapter is prefaced with the label Him or Her: allowing the reader to explore this couple's relationship and in a manner, become the bridge between their independent lives.  At first I was apathetic towards Jodi, finding her emotionally flat and socially void.  My sympathy leaned more towards Todd despite his behaviour.  The author seamlessly wove these characters into the story allowing it to unfold gently, without the extreme emotions and violence that one might expect in a tale of murder.  Unlike any other murder mystery I have read, the gentle progression of the characters enveloped my interest and transported me into their lives like the proverbial fly on the wall.  Having read the synopsis, I knew what was to come but the absence of overt conflict helped to create a strange lull towards Jodi's camp.  Around page 200 I found myself dreading her capture and wishing that she would get away with the crime.  Within the story, my moral code of right and wrong eroded in a way that what Jodi was about to do didn't seem that shocking, that out of the norm.

Other reviews I have read used the words unsettling and darkly funny.  I don't recall feeling unsettled or finding it humerous, darkly or otherwise.  What I found was a tale that was compelling and fully engrossing. It took two attempts for me to begin this book.  The first I chose not to open the book because I was expecting a dark, angst-filled emotional tragedy.  I am glad I made that second attempt because this book was nothing as I has expected.   Most characters have a feel of ebb and flow, highs and lows as they move thought the events in a novel.  In the Silent Wife, I felt rather the opposite - that it was the story that ebbed and flowed with Jodi and Todd remaining still and precise in their choices. None of their actions were surprising, trying yes, but not terribly shocking.    Despite the breakdown of their relationship and what I thought would be frustration with both the main characters behaviours, I found Harrison provided a surprisingly refreshing take on the cast of the dutiful wife, the cheater, and the dissolution of a 20-year marriage.

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