I really enjoyed The Silent Treatment ! The story draws you in practically right away: from the very first few pages a major event shatters the initial cosiness of the set-up and shakes the two main characters – Frank and Maggie – to the core.
From there, we are painstakingly piecing back together the jigsaw of their lives, piece by piece. We begin right at the beginning, when the young protagonists first meet and fall in love. We then continue the journey, along the ups and downs of a long marriage, up to the point where Frank stops talking to Maggie – for six months. And the huge question hanging over the whole narration is: why? And how can two people keep living together when one of them has refused to utter a single word for so long?
Abbie, the author, has this incredible ability to keep the reader guessing, hungry to turn the pages to find out a bit more. At quite a few points in the story I felt convinced that I had worked out where the plot was going, only to be proved completely wrong, over and over, as events unfolded. It’s such an emotional roller coaster – with an eye to the past, you’re reading a beautiful love story, while the events of the future keep you on tenterhooks to find out how it all went so wrong that Frank has felt the need to hide behind a wall of silence.
I think that structuring the book in two parts – one where Frank is recounting events from his point of view and the other where Maggie does the same – has been an excellent way to allow the readers to really connect with the two characters. We get to hear both sides of the story, told at the time when emotions are still so raw and without interference from an outside narrator adding or distorting the details of what took place.
This story shows how seeking refuge in silence makes healing all the more difficult and it highlights the importance of communicating, as talking about a situation can be a huge help when coming to terms with trauma. Words left unspoken can be just as painful and deafening as ones shouted in anger.
I won’t say any more, as I don’t want to give away too much information! This is a fantastic read, beautifully written, which tackles many difficult and emotional subjects in a very sensitive way.