The Silent Treatment
I don't often say this but I almost overlooked this book because of the cover. First, I wasn't sure whether it was fiction or a self-help tome! And then the blurb about a couple not speaking. That sounded full of angst. And the silhouettes of the couple facing away from each other - they looked as though they were in their 30s, even though the blurb said 'a lifetime together'.
But I read glowing praise on social media ahead of the official publication, and my proof copy was to hand, so I thought I'd give it a try.
And I'm very glad I did! An amazing, wonderful book. A very simple idea but brilliantly executed. Kept the reader guessing all along.
Frank discovers his wife of 40 years, Maggie is unconscious having taken an overdose. He sits by her bed in hospital not knowing whether she will pull through. A friendly nurse urges him to say all that needs to be said in case this is a goodbye. He's not sure where to start because for the past six months he hasn't spoken to Maggie at all.
Frank goes back to how they first met and, as he reminds Maggie about their relationship, so the reader learns about them too. The marriage, the early years, the struggle for a child, the joy and struggles of finally having a daughter, and then the 'event' six months earlier which caused this chasm of a lack of communication to come between them.
It's a poignant but delightful book. It's a powerful tale of love and friendship, commitment and loyalty, but also fear and disappointment, misunderstanding and miscommunication. Throughout, you're wondering what it is that caused such a strong couple to lose sight of each other. There's ultimately sadness and distress, but this is a book which also brings hope and consolation. It's beautiful, charming and life-affirming. Loved it!