The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves
|The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A superbly-written story which will grip you from the first page. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: April 2020|
|External links: Author's website|
When we meet Professor Frank Hobbs and his wife, Maggie, Frank is playing chess against his computer, although not very successfully. Maggie, on the other hand, has just taken some pills - eight of them, in fact - and before long she will collapse. When Frank rings the emergency services in Oxford he has a bit of a problem. He has to admit that he and Maggie haven't actually spoken for a while. How long? Well, it's about six months since he spoke to Maggie and he can't really say if it's likely that Maggie has tried to take her own life.
In Intensive Care, the full force of what has happened hits Frank. He cannot bear to lose Maggie. In fact, he really can't believe that he's been lucky enough to have her as his wife for forty years. He knows that his not speaking to Maggie has been entirely his fault, but he has a secret and he knows that if Maggie knew that secret then she would leave him. In his own mind, he decided that it was better to have Maggie with him, even if they didn't communicate, rather than not have her there at all. But it seems that the only way to try to bring Maggie back from her coma is to talk to her, so Frank decides that he must tell his story.
But Maggie has been hiding something too. She's never stopped loving Frank, and when they stopped talking she decided that she would give him six months and then she would take action. A week before the six months is up she starts to write her story because she can't believe that she's been lucky enough to have Frank all these years and she feels that she owes him an explanation for what she's done. We hear the two stories in tandem.
After fifteen years of marriage, Frank and Maggie had a baby. She was called Eleanor and Eleanor was where the problem began.
Sometimes you pick up a book and you're pulled into the story. Maggie's bright and bubbly and Frank - well, Frank's probably best described as 'hapless'. He's very clever but there's a distinct lack of self-confidence and he doesn't read people well. Not talking to someone you love for six months seems like an extreme way of dealing with a problem, but when you know Frank you can understand that in his mind it was completely logical. But what was Frank's secret, the secret that was so terrible that Maggie would leave him and why does Maggie feel that taking her own life is the best option?
The writing is superb: there's a clarity and a deceptive simplicity which hides great skill and the plotting is skillful. I really couldn't believe that there would be anything which could make two people act as they did but as you read you realise that this was the obvious way for a man and a woman who loved each other as much as Frank and Maggie.
If you take one thing from this book it will be the importance of communication, the need to leave nothing unsaid, to risk what might happen when you tell the truth. You will also know that you've encountered a superb writer and I really can't wait to see what Abbie Greaves writes next. I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag see a review copy.
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