The Silent Treatment, by Abbie Greaves is a heart-breaking story of love, life, parenthood and relationships. An exceptional debut.
Synopsis: Frank and Maggie have been in love and have been married for a long time. But, for the past six months they have lived in complete silence. Frank has suddenly withdrawn and hasn’t breathed a word to his wife in this time. Maggie doesn’t know why and the silence has been eating away at her. Six months of silence has passed until Frank finds his wife on the kitchen floor with an empty pack of sleeping pills by her side. The hospital place Maggie in a medically induced coma, but they don’t have high hopes for her. Can Frank find his voice again? Can he tell Maggie why he has lived in silence for so long before it is too late?
So, before I begin, this book is not what I expected. I was expecting to follow Maggie and Frank’s relationship as it slowly breaks down, and while that is what happens it is not what the story is necessarily about. It is a book about their relationship but more importantly their relationship with their daughter. I did not expect it to focus so much on parenthood and while I am not a parent I still found it to be utterly devastating, it was an emotional story and while I could not fully understand or connect with all the elements, I could feel symathy and empathy for their situation allowing me to feel more connected to the book.
THE NEXT PARAGRAPH CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS AS CONTENT WARNINGS HAVE BEEN GIVEN. PLEASE SKIP IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO READ THEM.
CW: (may contain spoilers so read at your own discretion) …………… : Attempted suicide/suicide, self harm, drug abuse (not detailed), miscarriage, rape (mentioned/referenced – not detailed), difficult parent-child relationship, ….. (relative spoiler) referenced/assumed Postnatal Depression/ Depression.
— Simple And Direct But Extremely Emotive And Powerful —
The Writing/Narrative. Abbie Greaves has a fantastic writing style. It is relatively simple and direct but extremely emotive and powerful. Her writing is easy to read, allowing you to race through the book, and very easily draws you in – it seamlessly creates an emotional atmosphere and empathy for the characters.
The book is told from the perspective of Frank as he recalls the story of his relationship with Maggie and builds up to what eventually led to his silence. We also get some insight into Maggie’s view of this story – interestingly done and incredibly effective. However, we predominantly see Frank’s perspective, his emotions and his motivations. This is restrictive as we don’t see what Maggie thinks (her view is also not until much later) but it works and is effective because it maintains some mystery in the novel, it keeps you reading. The slow build up and reveal works well with this perspective choice as you can feel Frank’s struggle with it.
Maggie’s perspective is a limited one, though I’ll refrain from saying how we see it. But it lends a deep and heart-breaking insight ito some of her own struggles and into Maggie herself. This was a wonderful inclusion that really bought emotion and devastation to the novel and sheds light on some incredible difficulties.
The perspective was effective and aided the story and its slow reveal very well, it was a good choice and didn’t grow stagnant at all, it worked well and allowed us to piece things together ourself.
— A Wonderful And Powerful Story —
The Story/Plot. The story is a character driven one since it focuses around the two main characters relationship and Frank’s hesitation to reveal why he has been silent, there is no ‘plot’ so to speak but the characters are strong enough to drive the story.
The story itself is definitely an interesting one but I did feel a little misled. The synopsis made it appear that the book was about a couple’s relationship breaking down. While that does kind of happen it isn’t really a story about that – it is a story about parenting and parent-child relationships. This doesn’t become apparent until a little way in and was a little shocking as it was unexpected.
However, it is still a wonderful and powerful story. The slow build and reveal worked incredibly well, the way Frank talks to his wife about the start of their relationship up to the point where he grew silent was brilliant. I loved the slow progression as it felt like Frank was sorting through his feelings, it felt right to have it move in that way. The parenting aspect is incredibly essential to the stroy and was interesting and devastating to read about. At times it was a little difficult to connect with, since I am not a parent myself, but overall I could still feel the emotion and impact the events of the book had or evoked.
All the elements created and explored tied into each other very well, the mystery was well thought out and did keep me hooked. My only concern was the end twist, the reason for Frank’s silence was not as suprising as it was likely intended. To clarify as the ending is double layered; One element that occurs regarding the ending is not suprising as I figured it out pretty early on, but Frank’s part – his solid reason for staying silent was a little more surprising. Not overly shocking but definitely understandable and heart-breaking.
The story itself deals with a lot of issues, I won’t list them here as they are spoilers. But, it deals with them well, in a raw and realistic way – this was effective and difficult, it definitely created a lot of emotion, empathy and sympathy throughout the story.
— Well Written, Raw And Realistic —
The Characters. So Frank Maggie and Eleanor and the three key players in this story, other characters are present and are interesting and well written but I will only be talking about Maggie and Frank as Eleanor is too central to the plot and I don’t want to post spoilers and the other characters are minor ones.
Frank, Maggie and Eleanor are extremely well written, raw and realistic and their relationships with each other are very natural and emotional.
Frank. Frank obviouly loves Maggie, he is utterly devoted to her (despite his silence) and will do anything for her. However, he is naive and doesn’t appear to think deeply about her views or how things may affect her, he has a tendency to take people and their emotions at face value. He is, however, sweet and kind just a little too reserved. He also adores his child, but has quite a different approach to Maggie in terms of parenting, but it does deeply affect him as he does care about them both.
Frank, when Maggie ends up in hospital, is devastated and is desperate to tell the story of his silence but struggles too and opts to start from the beginning. We see his past with Maggie and his love is obvious, but his devastation and guilt is eating him up and the story progressively gets harder to tell and more devastating. Frank is a brilliantly written character who really brings out the emotion of the story as he tells it and places a lot of blame on himself – it is realistic and poignant.
Maggie. Maggie is the opposite of Frank. She is fiery, impuslive and wild – she is incredibly lively and headstrong often taking matters into her own hands. However, Maggie feels things deeply, she is incredibly affect by her emotions but knows how to put on a brave face. Her love and adoration for Frank is equally as obvious, she is passionate and her love she is equally so but his silence is devastating to her.
She is equally devoted to her child. As we get to her perspective her emotions become clear and her distress of the situation is painful. Maggie is an incredibly strong person and her character is powerful you can’t help but feel for her.
Overall: Despite being misled, it is a powerful story that is heart-breaking, emotional and difficult. The characters are raw and realistic and the story progresses slowly but effectively. This is a book that I would recommend, it is a difficult story about love and parenting and is a brilliant read. Though I was not the right audience for such a book, it is one that was worth reading.
*I received an eARC of #TheSilentTreatment by #AbbieGreaves from #Netgalley #RandomHouseUKCornerstone(Century) in exchange for an honest review*