“The Silent Wife” is the most intriguing book I have read this year although some reviewers did not share my opinion. However, it appealed so much to actress Nicole Kidman that she is planning to produce the film and also star in it as the main character.
Porsche - Wikimedia
The novel tells the story of Jodi and Todd Brett who have lived together for twenty years without the benefit of a marriage license. Neither one is concerned about that, and so the years go by and it never becomes problematic. To the outside world, they seem to be a happy couple with everything they could possibly want. They live in a lovely condo in Chicago, overlooking Lake Michigan. He drives a Porsche; she drives an Audi. Todd is a real estate developer with a successful business; Jodi is a psychotherapist who sees two patients a day, leaving her time for hobbies, shopping, and lunch with friends. She loves to cook, and Todd relishes the wonderful meals that she makes for him, along with a ready-made cocktail to start off the evening.
The Silent Wife
There is one fly in the ointment. Todd is a philanderer, and has been all his life. Jodi, the silent wife, knows this about Todd but has never made an issue of it. She dislikes confrontation, and Todd is the happy recipient of her supposed acceptance.
The reader learns their secrets through a process used sparingly in novels. The first chapter is entitled HER, the second chapter is entitled HIM, and we hear alternately throughout the book what each one is saying and doing. It is here that we learn the honest truth, which their associates are not necessarily privy to.
An Unexpected Occurrence
An event occurs, however, which knocks the socks off of both Jodi and Todd. Todd’s latest conquest is a bit too young for a 46-year-old man. Her name is Natasha, and she is the 23-year-old daughter of one of Todd’s best friends, Dean Kovacs. This alone is off the wall, but Natasha is also pregnant which has far-reaching consequences which neither Todd, nor Jodi, had ever expected to face. The first step that Todd is forced to make is to get an apartment for him and Natasha, even though he has always liked the serenity of living with Jodi, who has never made great demands on him. Of course, Natasha starts planning their wedding, with guest lists, site visitations, her bridesmaids, and food and drink choices - all of the excitement that she has always looked forward to when thinking about getting married. Todd’s life has been turned upside down.
Wedding Cake - Wikimedia
Natasha’s father, Dean - Todd’s close friend - is furious at both Natasha and Todd, more so at Todd, for the stealth and audacity it took to put himself, and everyone concerned, in such a position. Natasha is still in college, and has not developed an adult outlook as yet. Of course, Dean has excused himself from paying for his daughter’s wedding, which falls to Todd to take on the burden. He has been planning to build a new high-end apartment complex, and this latest expense, which has been thrust upon him, will stretch him to the limit.
Todd Misses Jodi
On the surface, Jodi and Todd have remained friends even though Todd has left her. He really misses her. They talk on the phone at times, and Jodi tentatively invited him for dinner if he would care to come. He jumped at the chance to spend some time away from Natasha who is getting on his nerves. Jodi had his cocktail ready when he came to the door, and they had a lovely meal. Jodi purposely did not dress up as though it were a special occasion, sending the message that it might be a get-together which they could do often, with no fuss or bother. Of course, they landed in bed together, which did not change their current situation in the least.
Jodi is Evicted
Todd was unsure whether Natasha’s aggressive personality was a pregnancy symptom or was part of her nature, but she began to nag Todd about a number of things, one of them being that Jodi was still in their condo and Todd was paying for it. Todd asked his friend and lawyer, Harry LeGroot, to take care of the situation, but did not give him a time frame. Harry got on it right away and informed Jodi that she would have to leave their condo. Jodi was devastated. She had not expected this.
Alison was one of Jodi’s best friends, with whom she had lunch on a regular basis. Alison asked Jodi if she was still Todd’s beneficiary or if he had already changed his will to benefit Natasha. Of course, Jodi had no idea. It would seem plausible that Todd would wait until he and Natasha were man and wife. Offhandedly, Alison implied that if Todd were to die now, before he married, Jodi’s situation would be golden.
Jodi Sees a Lawyer
Jodi decided she had better consult a lawyer, a female lawyer suggested to her by one of her gal pals. The lawyer made it plain to Jodi that without a marriage license, she had no rights to their condo; it was actually Todd’s condo. For eight days, she stayed home, drinking too much, sleeping a lot, her eyes swollen, and her mood irritable. She made a phone call to Alison.
The ending of “The Silent Wife” had not only a twist; it had a double twist, which this reader never saw coming. What a fantastic imagination A. S. A. Harrison had! I have never been so bowled over about an ending before. Bravo!
Nicole Kidman - Wikimedia
The sad part of this story is that the author, A. S. A. Harrison, died shortly before “The Silent Wife” was published, and was never able to see the public reception it received, let alone the fact that it will soon become a motion picture. She and her husband, John Massey, lived in Toronto, Ontario and were married for 30 years.
I cannot wait for the film to be released. I hope it does justice to Harrison’s novel.