It’s not uncommon for books to be drawn from a real event. Particularly in the crime and thriller genre, which made a lot of people ask: Is The Silent Patient a true story?
Written by Alex Michaelides, the book is about Alicia, a wife who murdered her husband and never speaking again after her action.
In this post, I discuss whether the event is based on a real case and other things that inspired the book.
If you already read the book and crave more stories like it, I’ve listed twelve books like The Silent Patient you may enjoy.
Is The Silent Patient a True Story?
Alex Michaelides’ The Silent Patient is not based on a true story. In some interviews, he mentioned several fiction inspirations for the book, including a Greek mythology story named Alcestis and Agatha Christie’s works. Michaelides said, “The Silent Patient was my attempt to replicate that first magical experience on the beach when I was a kid reading Agatha Christie’s books.”
Alcestis by Euripides
In the play Alcestis by Euripides, the oracle told king Admetus that he will die soon, but if someone close to him is willing to die in his place, Admetus can survive.
The only person who volunteers to die in his place is his wife Alcestis.
Hercules the demigod intervenes and rescues Alcestis from the underworld, allowing her to return to the land of the living and reunite with her husband.
Alcestis, however, is not quite the same as before. Ever since her return, she never says a word.
The Silent Patient mentions the play a few times and merges it with Alicia’s story.
Alicia names her painting “Alcestis” and she becomes silent like Alcestis after the night of her husband’s murder.
The author Alex Michaelides grew up in an ancient country Cyprus, where Aphrodite was born. He’s been taught about Greek myths since he was a kid.
One of the plays that he has always been fascinated with is Alcestis by Euripides. He thought there was something about her never speaking again after returning from death.
As a Greek myth enthusiast myself, it was exciting to find that element in the book.
I had never heard the story of Alcestis before reading the book. But now I’m planning to read the whole play which you can also read it here.
Agatha Christie’s Books
British author Agatha Christie is best known for her detective novels collections. Here are some of her most famous works:
- And Then There Were None
- Murder on the Orient Express
- Death on the Nile
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
- The ABC Murders
Inside those books, her most famous character detective Hercule Poirot investigates murder cases that usually end in a twist.
Agatha Christie’s novels have interesting characters and cleverly constructed plots. Several of them have been adapted into plays, television shows, and films.
Her legacy continues to be celebrated and inspired a lot of crime-thriller writers, such as Alex Michaelides.
He cited Agatha Christie as the one who made him into a reader and a writer. He loves whodunit stories that are normally structured in these three things: crime, investigation, and final twist.
That’s precisely what he has done in The Silent Patient, but with his own distinctiveness. Instead of having a detective in the story, he chose a psychotherapist named Theo Faber to inspect the murder.
Read more about his characters in my previous post: The Silent Patient Characters List & Descriptions.
I personally adore all the inspirations above and The Silent Patient itself because I thought it was thrilling and cleverly written.
For those who haven’t read the book, are you still going to read it even after finding out that is not based on a true story?
If you do, please make sure to check its age rating and trigger warnings for your own enjoyment (no spoiler!).