This is a very easy book to listen to, and the reader will easily be placed under its spell. When compared to “Gone Girl”, however, one could say that The Silent Wife is also about dysfunctional characters who seem to have no guilty conscience about the things they do, but the characters in this book are a bit less objectionable or diabolical, rather their efforts at evil are more straight forward and obvious.
Jodi and Todd meet after a fender bender. He is engaged in an angry outburst and she silently lets him rage. It was her fault, after all; she was distracted. After a few days, she receives a call from him. He asks her out on a date, and the rest is history; they click and proceed to happily live together for the better part of 20 years. Todd believes that Jodi has invigorated his life and given him a raison d’etre! He had been down in the dumps, his career was faltering, and he thought she would be his lucky charm, more or less. Their lives settled into a stable and routine existence which she recognized was missing the passion they once shared, but it still seemed agreeable to both of them.
Both Todd Gilbert and Jodi Brett live in a world of unreality that they have created. They walk around each other believing if it is not acknowledged, it didn’t happen. That is how Jodi’s family existed. Her mom ignored her dad’s infidelity, even though it was widely known in the small-town community, because breaking up the family would have hurt the children. Todd’s family was dysfunctional, too. His dad drank too much and was physically abusive to his mother. Todd longed for the dynamic of a strong family and the image of happiness and togetherness, the sharing of pleasantries and experiences. Jodi was determined never to marry because then infidelity would not be in question, but in that belief, she was sadly mistaken.
Jodi suspects that Todd cheats on her, but she feels that exposing that truth to the light of day will change their relationship, irreparably, while ignoring it will allow them both to go on as usual. She takes the path of least resistance to maintain the status quo. Todd believes that Jodi knows, but is a really understanding wife who understands he has needs he must fulfill. Todd is a restless soul and believes that whatever he does is justified for one reason or another. They have worked out this arrangement in which they do not speak of things that trouble them because that would give those things a life of their own and cause fractures in their relationship. Rather, they move on as if nothing untoward ever happens, that is, until Todd grows restless again, becoming depressed and unable to find satisfaction from his life. When, he meets Natasha, whom he believes can reinvigorate his desire and inspire him to achieve greatness, he strays beyond the pale.
Jodi, on the other hand, is not restless. She seems like a homebody who enjoys cooking, caring for her husband’s needs and working as a psychoanalyst from her home office. There are hidden secrets from her early life that even she is unaware of, until forced to remember and face them. She is very good at compartmentalizing her thoughts and memories, and while she is basically calm and considerate, she also finds herself able to do things that are reprehensible without feeling any real responsibility or remorse.
When Todd, who has been distant and perfunctory in his behavior, of late, announces his decision to leave her and marry another woman with whom he has been having an affair and who is pregnant with his child, she is completely blindsided. She is sure he will come to his senses and return to her, even after he begins living with his lover, who is the daughter of his best friend, Dean Kovacs. His cold and calculating treatment of her, his disingenuous excuses, under the guise of kindness and/or overwhelming outside pressures, take her completely by surprise, so sure was she that she could trust him and believe in his willingness to still protect and care for her.
Although it was an easy book to listen to, there were few characters that endeared themselves to me. Rather they made me angry that they had such a lack of concern for those they hurt. The lawyer is the stereotype of the cold-hearted lawyer; he is also the stereotype of the angry ex-husband who feels abused and overwhelmed with his responsibility to the family he may have betrayed or that betrayed him. There are friends who use Jodi to advance their own agendas. There are workplace acquaintances who pretend to offer help while really only considering their own needs. One character, Stephanie, Todd’s secretary, seems to be the rare character without rancor or bitterness and seems to possess humanity, rather than malice.
The ending has an almost obvious twist, but it is nevertheless handled very well, although I was disappointed with the number of hanging, unsolved, unknowns. There is no real justice, even at the end of the book, but rather there is an atmosphere of "acceptable injustice".